by Josh Linden

WD 1TB My Passport Slim Review (WDBGMT0010BAL)

WD has today announced its new My Passport Slim USB 3.0 external hard drive, available in 1TB (WDBGMT0010BAL) with a 2TB model (WDBPDZ0020BAL) expected later this year. My Passport Slim features connectivity and an initial NTFS format intended for Windows PCs, but also features the type of aluminum enclosure which we usually only see with WD’s offerings for Mac. The drive is designed to maximize its utility and competitiveness as portable storage for consumers, offering 256-bit hardware encryption, WD SmartWare Pro local backup functionality, and integration with the Dropbox cloud backup service.

StorageReview has been working with a 1TB My Passport Slim review unit in advance of the launch. As with the My Passport Ultra which we recently reviewed, the Slim builds in additional value by incorporating bundled software which increases the utility of the drive for consumers. WD SmartWare Pro automatic backup software supports continuous and scheduled approaches; continuous backup runs in the background and backs up every change to protected files, whereas scheduled makes a compete backup on a regular interval. WD Utilities provides diagnostics, configuration for the amount of time before the drive enters sleep, and other drive tools. WD Security implements password protection for the contents of the drive.

WD My Passport Slim 1TB Specifications

  • Data transfer rate: USB 3.0, up to 5 Gb/s (max)
  • Operating temperature: 5°C to 35°C
  • Non-op. temperature: –20°C to 65°C
  • Limited warranty: 3 years Worldwide
  • Height: 4.33 in. (110 mm)
  • Depth: 0.48 in. (12.3 mm)
  • Width: 3.14 in. (80 mm)
  • Weight: 0.30 lb (0.134 kg)

Design and Build

The design of the My Passport Slim is one of its distinguishing characteristics. In the past, WD has segmented their external hard drive chassis designs between the Mac and Windows PC platforms, with Windows receiving plastic chassis designs. The Slim, while intended for use with Windows, features a more sturdy aluminum enclosure like the enclosures we normally find in WD’s Mac lineup.

The 1TB My Passport Slim measures only 4.33 x 3.14 x 0.48-inches. The 2TB model will measure 4.33 x 3.14 x 0.7-inches.

The My Passport Slim does not require external power, drawing its supply from the USB port.

Setup and Usability

The My Passsport Slim shares much of its bundled software and other functionality with the My Passport Ultra, and the bundled software is discussed with more detail in that review. The drive comes preformatted for Windows use, and incorporates a setup client for WD Utilities, WD SmartWare Pro and WD Security. The SmartWare Pro license can be activated online for use with up to 3 computers via an installation process that follows familiar software installation conventions and is accessible for users with general proficiency installing and operating new software.

WD Utilities offers drive diagnostics, including SMART status, a self-test, and a full media scan to detect bad sectors. WD Utilities can also configure how much idle time to allow before the drive goes into a reduced-power sleep mode and provides a drive erase function. WD Security password-protects the drive and allows the use of an automatic unlock feature for a specified user account. WD offers a Windows 8 app to access the drive which provides enhanced display and organization for the contents of the drive.

WD SmartWare Pro provides detailed instructions for the user on how to perform its various backup functions. The SmartWare Pro home screen allows users to select a backup target drive or select to backup to a Dropbox account. The user can choose between “category” and “file” backup modes. Category backs up the system drive by categories such as movies or music. File backup mode enables users to select individual folders. SmartWare Pro also allows the user to select how frequently backups will be performed. There is an icon allowing users to set how frequently backups are to be performed. One feature that is missing from the file backup mode is the ability to select file extensions to back up or exclude (such as .mp3 or .doc).

Performance

Using our Consumer Testing Platform, we measured transfer speeds from the My Passport Slim 1TB over USB 3.0 with IOMeter. The Slim 1TB posted 107.60MB/s for 2mb sequential read and for 107.11MB/s sequential write. For random 2mb operations we measured 75.88MB/s for reads and 77.45MB/s for writes. This performances improves on the WD My Passport Ultra 1TB which we recently reviewed as well as the Toshiba Canvio Connect 750GB. The G-Technology G-DRIVE mini 1TB comparable outperforms the My Passport Slim on sequential operations, but falls behind on the random benchmarks.

The Toshiba Canvio Connect posts sequential read and write speeds at 101.5MB/s and 101.2MB/s respectively, with random large-block transfers of 47.7MB/s read and 37.9MB/s write. The G-Technology G-DRIVE mini tested at sequential read and write speeds at 127.6MB/s and 121.2MB/s respectively, and random large-block transfers at 55.1MB/s read and 55.9MB/s write. The WD My Passport Ultra 1TB posts 100.69MB/s for sequential read and for 101.49MB/s sequential write. For large-block transfers, it measured 71.95MB/s for reads and 73.97MB/s for writes.

Conclusion

The WD My Passport Slim represents a change in WD's approach to consumer external storage. Rather than using a plastic enclosure as with previous drives intended for Windows PCs, the Slim adopts an aluminum enclosure, bundles several useful software tools, and performs near the top of its class in our synthetic benchmarks.

My Passport Slim is intended to serve as portable storage, not just external, and its combination of sturdy case, small form factor, and performance make it an appealing choice. The consumer market for external and portable storage has been well developed and offers a lot of options to the customer. This drive's combination of functionality, design, and the WD brand should help distinguish it from the competition.

Pros

  • Aluminum enclosure for improved strength and heat dissipation
  • Strong performance across our benchmarks when compared to similar drives
  • No external power source required

Cons

  • Only available in 1TB and 2TB capacities

Bottom Line

The WD My Passport Slim is a versatile and refined choice for portable consumer storage.

Pricing and Availability

The WD My Passport Slim 1TB is now available and priced at $99.99. The 2TB model is expected next quarter and will be priced at $149.99.

WD 1TB My Passport Slim at Amazon.com

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