Western Digital My Passport 2TB Portable Hard Drive Review

Review posted 04/04/2012

Quick Take
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Pros
  • Small, sleek form factor for a drive with a massive capacity of 2TB.
  • Transfer speed over USB 3.0 absolutely fantastic!
  • USB powered, no A/C adapter required.
  • Quiet drive, stays cool.
  • Included software is helpful for people new to the backup process. 
  • Drive can be password protected to secure data from unauthorized users.
Cons
  • The 2TB model is only offered in black. Red, blue and silver options are only available in 1TB sizes and lower.
Bottom Line
Priced around $200 at most major retailers, the My Passport 2TB hard drive from Western Digital offers great performance in an extremely small package. It's an excellent solution for professional photographers seeking more portable storage or simply anyone looking for a way to transfer large amounts of data extremely quickly. 
For a professional photographer on the go, portable storage space can often be an issue when transporting a large collection of RAW images to another location. Even simply moving a variety of video files recorded in 1080p resolution from one computer to another can be a time-consuming task without the proper hardware. 

Western Digital has released one of the first 2.5" portable hard drives with a 2TB capacity within the company's My Passport line of hard drives. The drive is also available in other sizes including 320GB, 500GB, 750GB, 1TB and 1.5TB as well as more colors. Representatives from Western Digital were kind enough to send us the 2TB version to test and put USB 3.0 transfer speeds to the test. 

Body Design

Housed inside a firm, black plastic shell, the top of the casing displays the Western Digital logo and the My Passport branding. While the plastic casing can be removed by unsnapping the plastic latch underneath the USB 3.0 port, the case feels sturdy in my hand and would have no problem surviving when being transport within a laptop bag. 

In the future, a metal alloy casing may be an interesting option for a special edition drive, but the black plastic case works perfectly and keeps the weight of the device down to half a pound. Compared to an iPhone 4S, the drive is thicker and wider, but slightly shorter (5 inches by 3.3 inches by 0.7 inch). It can easily fit in a pants pocket if needed.

On the bottom of the case, the user will find four small, black rubber feet to keep the drive from slipping off a table or desk. The model and serial number is on the bottom of the drive as well. There's only one port on the drive, a Micro-USB 3.0 port that can be used with the 1.5-foot USB cable included with the device. 

Power for the device is provided through USB and data can be transferred via USB 2.0 speeds as well if the port on the computer isn't USB 3.0 capable yet. When the drive is connected to the computer, the user will notice a LED activity light shine when the device is active.

Software and Performance

Western Digital includes a few software packages with the drive including WD Security, WD Drive Utilities and WD SmartWare backup software. WD Security allows the user to specify a password that will lock out unauthorized users from accessing the drive. This is particularly helpful if the drive has been stolen or the drive was simply misplaced in a public area. However, setting the password does lock out the user from accessing the data if the password is forgotten. The user can setup a password hint, but Western Digital cannot recover user data is the password cannot be remembered.

WD Drive Utilities includes diagnostic tools to determine if the drive is faulty and can scan the drive for bad sectors. The software package also allows the user to reformat the drive as well as register the drive with Western Digital to take advantage of the two-year limited warranty for service and support.

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WD SmartWare is a helpful tool for computer novices and can automate the data backup process for users. Using the category backup method, the software automatically seeks out files in categories such as pictures, videos, documents and music. There's also a file backup method where users can specifically select directories that should be backed up on a regular basis. After the data is backed up for the first time, the user can simply leave the drive plugged into the computer and the backup process kicks in when data is changed on the computer. However, this action occurs when the computer shifts into idle. The software also offers a retrieval process to access older versions of files.

Regarding performance, we tested the 2TB drive with a HP Envy 15 using a 7200 RPM internal hard drive. While we didn't specifically measure transfer speeds, the difference between using USB 2.0 speeds with an older portable hard drive and the new Western Digital drive was night and day. For instance, the amount of time to transfer a directory filled with high definition video files was easily cut in half by using the new My Passport drive. This drive would be extremely useful when on a remote photography shoot and you need to transfer a collection of RAW photographs to another computer for digital post-processing.

Conclusion

The 2TB Western Digital My Passport portable hard drive is an excellent storage solution for photographers working in remote locations, business users looking to protect data or basically anyone that wants to regularly backup data on a home laptop or desktop computer. While the MSRP of the drive is currently $249.99, the drive can be found for $199 on Amazon in addition to other major retailers like Best Buy.

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