by Kevin OBrien

2TB Western Digital My Passport Portable Hard Drive Review

Last week WD announced the latest generation of their popular My Passport portable hard drives. The newly redesigned enclosures surround a 2.5" 15mm Western Digital hard drive that uses four platters to offer capacities up to 2TB, making it the highest capacity drive available in this form factor. The My Passport also picks up USB 3.0, making it idea for not just toting files, but for completing high-speed local backups of your PC as well.

Western Digital offers the redesigned My Passport USB 3.0 drives in a variety of capacities including 500GB, 750GB, 1TB, and 2TB with MSRPs of $129.99, $149.99, $179.99 and $249.99 respectively. WD also offers several color options that vary by capacity. 

WD My Passport Specs

  • Capacity and color combinations:
    • 2TB
      • Black (WDBY8L0020BBK)
    • 1TB
      • Black (WDBBEP0010BBK)
      • Blue (WDBBEP0010BBL)
      • Red (WDBBEP0010BRD)
      • Silver (WDBBEP0010BSL)
    • 750GB
      • Black (WDBBEP7500ABK)
      • Blue (WDBBEP7500ABL)
      • Red (WDBBEP7500ARD)
      • Silver (WDBBEP7500ASL)
    • 500GB
      • Black (WDBKXH5000ABK)
      • Blue (WDBKXH5000ABL)
      • Red (WDBKXH5000ARD)
      • White (WDBKXH5000AWT)
      • Silver (WDBKXH5000ASL)
  • USB 3.0
  • Dimensions -  0.82" x 4.4" x 3.2"
  • Weight - 0.51 Pounds
  • Temperature - Operating 5° C to 40° C, Non-operating -20° C to 65° C

Design and Build

The new My Passport design picks up on many of the same elements seen in the My Passport for Mac and the My Passport Studio, but those two drives topped out at 1TB, using more standard height 12mm 2.5" hard drives. The design of the 2TB My Passport is black on black, with a sturdy plastic body protecting the large 2TB drive inside.

The back of the drive contains one USB 3.0 port and an LED activity light. The USB port is actually a Micro-USB connection on the drive, a nice touch since most users have done away with dated mini-USB cords. It's a small thing for sure, but we still see new drives released with old interface designs.

The bottom of the drive is all-black, with black rubber feet and a product information label which includes important information such as the model number and serial number.

The My Passport isn't exactly the easiest case to take apart, with two plastic case halves which snap together very securely. With a little effort from a fingernail and an old credit card, we were able to split the case open without damaging it, exposing custom hard drive within.

The drive is similar to the 1TB WD10TPVT found in the My Passport Studio, although this one integrates the USB 3.0 controller with the circuit board of the drive, allowing for fewer internal components and circuitry. It also prevents us from popping the drive outside of this enclosure and using it inside another device as a SATA notebook hard drive.

Performance

The 2TB My Passport includes a USB 3.0 interface, which offers compatibility with close to every computer on the market and good performance for most users. While not as fast as eSATA, it still provides good speeds for a 5400RPM notebook hard drive. With most users buying this drive to store photos in a second location or move large files between computers, the USB 3.0 connection is more than adequate. In our tests we measured transfer speeds of 109MB/s read and 109MB/s write through our consumer testing rig using IOMeter.

Software

WD includes two simple software packages with the 2TB My Passport. WD Drive Utilities handles diagnostics and other drive management duties. Users can run three drive tests ranging for a simple check of SMART data to a more robust full mediascan that checks for bad sectors on the drive. 

Users can also manage the sleep settings for the drive, from never to 10, 15, 30 and 45 minutes. WD includes a drive erase function and a simple product registration form with three form fields to complete. 

The other included application is WD Security, which lets users specify a password required to access the data on the drive; this is especially handy for portable drives. Also handy is the bright red warning from WD, "WD cannot retrieve your password. If you forget your password, you will permanently lose access to your data." 

Once you accept the warning with the check box and remember to specify a hint, you can also enable auto unlock for the drive to prevent having to enter the password every time the drive is connected.

Conclusion

The Western Digital My Passport portable hard drive provides up to 2TB of storage in a well-designed body. WD offers a suite of software tools to manage the drive as well, and a modern USB 3.0 connection that lets the drive operate at its full potential, which in this case is about 110 MB/s read and write. Perhaps the best feature though is since the My Passport uses a 2.5" hard drive, the unit is Bus-powered, so no external power source is required. Comparable options that reach the 2TB capacity point are either based on much larger 3.5" hard drives that need supplemental power or are comprised of two smaller portable hard drives used in tandem. While this particular external drive has no intention of breaking any speed records, it does offer a near perfect solution for travelers on the go who need to transport lots of data in a small device.

Pros

  • Massive 2TB of storage from a single 2.5-inch hard drive
  • USB 3.0 interface for transfer speeds averaging 110MB/s
  • Helpful and intuitive supplied software

Cons

  • Metal-alloy case would have been preferred

Bottom Line

In a market with most external storage solutions still topping off at 1TB, Western Digital was able to raise the height of the bar two-fold with a 2TB storage solution designed around a single portable 2.5-inch hard drive.

WD My Passport at Amazon.com

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