Western Digital My Passport Ultra Review

by Reads (31,589)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 7
      • Features
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Durability
      • 8
      • Total Score:
      • 7.75
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Good value
    • Plenty of storage and performance
    • Useful included software
    • Included carry case
  • Cons

    • Short cable included
    • Thicker than a “slim” drive

Western Digital has several different portable storage offerings under the My Passport name. The Ultra model we’re reviewing today is the middle tier sitting between the less expensive Elements Portable and the pricier Slim. Compared to the Elements, the Ultra adds WD’s backup software, cloud backup, password protection, and hardware encryption. All of the current My Passport models support SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and are available in capacities up to 2 TB.

The model reviewed in this article is the My Passport Ultra 2TB in the titanium finish.

P1280186Build and Design

The Ultra’s rectangular exterior is made from plastic thick enough to feel solid. It’s built around a 2.5-inch notebook hard drive measuring 3.2 x 4.3 x 0.5 inches. The Ultra is slightly thicker than a standard portable hard drive because it houses a larger hard drive (12.5 mm height vs. the standard 9.5 mm); slimmer drives are available with the same capacity such as WD’s own My Passport Slim, but they cost more.

The overall design is more or less nondescript; there’s only so much that can be done with a rectangular box. This drive is available in one of five colors including the titanium color of our review unit. WD offers a higher-priced version of the Ultra with a metal enclosure if looks are important. The Ultra’s surfaces are smooth plastic; initially we’d likely have said it should have a rubberized finish but after using it, realize that would make taking the drive in and out of its included case more difficult. Rounding out the exterior features, the bottom of the drive has four small rubber feet to help keep it in place.

During our 6-month test, the Ultra survived everyday usage including trips to the office, some airline travel, and backups on a daily basis. The photos you see of the drive are after the 6-month evaluation. We kept it inside the included soft carry case most of the time, which is probably why it’s nearly scratch-free.

WDSmartWareFeatures

The Ultra comes with several additional features besides the drive itself; one of them is the included WD SmartWare backup software. This is useful if you’re new to backing up data or don’t have any existing software to do so. It’s relatively easy to select source and target folders. Backups can be scheduled on any basis or continuous; in order for the former to work, the drive obviously has to be connected continuously. Retrieving files using the software is relatively intuitive as well. We should note the WD SmartWare software is integrated with Dropbox for cloud backup and can send your data to a remote Dropbox folder if desired.

WD also provides an included WD Security app for password protection. This is a good idea if you frequently take the drive with you, especially if you keep sensitive data on it. The password protection works even without WD’s software (such as if you connect the drive to another computer). On your personal computer, you can use the auto-unlock feature to automatically unlock the drive once you log on with your account.

The Ultra includes a basic soft cloth case; we kept our review unit inside this drive at almost all times. The USB cable can remain connected while the drive is inside. The case has a drawstring close and is overall quite basic; it doesn’t offer much protection from bumps or drops. It will however keep the drive’s finish free from most scratches as it proved during our 6-month evaluation.

TransferPerformance and Operation

If your computer has a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port, backups will be much faster compared to a standard USB 2.0 drive. We achieved up to 70MB/s during our backups; USB 2.0 by comparison tops out at 30MB/s or just 42% of what we saw with USB 3.0.

The Ultra has a silent operation for all intents and purposes; the case does a good job of insulating any sound made by the hard drive inside. Temperature-wise the Ultra can get lukewarm during extended usage, but nothing we’d consider worrying about.

P1280181Other Notes

If you’re transitioning from USB 2.0 drives to this USB 3.0 drive, then one thing to note about this drive is its USB connector; the end that goes into your computer is standard USB of course but the end that connects to the Ultra’s enclosure is the new “Micro-B” USB 3.0 connector. You won’t be able to use old USB 2.0 cables – a bit depressing because the included cable is only 18 inches long – but you can purchase longer micro USB 3.0 cables online.

Conclusion

The Western Digital My Passport Ultra provides a convenient and dependable way to backup and safeguard your data on the go. We like its solid construction, performance and quiet operation. Consumers will like the fact it comes in five different colors and includes backup software and a soft carry case. We had no issues to report during our 6-month review. Our only qualm with the drive was the fact it uses a short USB 3.0 cable.

The 2TB Ultra we reviewed, the highest capacity model, retails for $129.99 as of writing, but we found it in WD’s own store for $119.99, just $10 more than the Elements model which doesn’t include the software.

We can overall recommend the WD My Passport Ultra to consumers looking for a high-capacity portable backup solution.

P1280189Pros:

  • Good value
  • Plenty of storage and performance
  • Useful included software
  • Included carry case

Cons:

  • Short cable included
  • Thicker than a “slim” drive



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