Review: WD 2TB My Passport w/USB3.0

Portable hard drives have been around for years now, so what makes this one worthy of my time and your attention? To be honest, it’s a number of features...

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Portable hard drives have been around for years now, so what makes this one worthy of my time and your attention? To be honest, it’s a number of features that add up to an overall impressive offering.

Hardware

The first thing you’ll notice about the external design is its size. I have purchased drives of this capacity before and historically they were the size of two books pressed together. As platter density increased the size halved and the WD backup drives became the size of single 3.5” drive plus the surrounds of the external case. Moving to 2012 and the size is now barely bigger than a smartphone.

This small size makes it great for travelling as it will fit easily in a laptop bag, meaning that even road warriors can be backed-up. On a holiday for work or pleasure, we can often spend 2-3 weeks away from our main environment which often means we’re also not backing up during that time. Whether its precious photos or work documents, the pocket-sized drive should be with you.

The 2TB Hard Drive capacity means that its perfect for backups of smaller laptop drives. Obviously if you have a 2TB drive in your desktop PC, you’re probably looking to a NAS rather than this drive.

Now we get to the design of of the product. Externally this matt black casing is tricked out with a gridded pattern of glossy black circles. While certainly not the most important aspect of this functional tech product, having a decent design certainly doesn’t hurt. If black isn’t your favourite, the drive also comes in blue, red, white or grey.

Now to the main feature of this drive – USB3.0. We’re all becoming digital hoarders these days and transferring files will be a frequent task. When transferring many gigabytes or potentially more than 1TB of data, you want that to take place as fast as possible.

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Speed
The speed difference between USB2.0 and USB3.0 is substantial, around 3 times substantial. During testing we used typical real-life copy scenarios, lots of smaller files, a few larger files. The result was essentially the same. Transfer rates for the drive on USB2.0 was around 30MB/s. On USB3.0 these speeds were improved to over 110MB/s. The copy tended to start of slowly and ramp up to full speed after a couple of seconds.

Essentially the almost 2GB of data being transferred was completed in around a minute instead of almost 10.

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Software

The WD 2TB USB3.0 My Passport comes with a software suite included to manage the drive and regular operations. Some users may not even be aware of the backup features built into the later versions of Windows, so WD backup software is included. There’s also drive locking capability, this secures your data behind a password. Given some of the files contained in your backup may be sensitive, this is a useful feature. Its worth noting that this can also avoid accidental removal of files from unknowing family members.

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Price and Availability

An external 2TB drive with USB3.0 doesn’t come cheap right now. This drive will set you back around $280, but there is also a 1TB versions available for around $150. These drives are available from major electronic retailers like Office Works, JB Hi-Fi etc, but be sure to check online for the best price. If you don’t already do this, you’re paying too much.

It is worth pointing out that you are paying a premium for the small form factor of this drive. The larger 3TB WD Elements drive is on special for $165 at JB at the time of writing. This is the kind of drive designed to sit next to your PC for backups and not move, an important differentiation.

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Overall

Ultimately when you’re packing for travel, you want the least amount of items and the smaller and lighter the better. The performance of this drive is really its killer feature closely followed by its small stature and nice design. It’s a well made product that serves a need we all have until online backups become a reality.

Right now this is a pricey drive and with transfer speeds well over 100MB/s it sure is impressive. The question with technology, particularly storage technology is when does the value for money equation tip in your favour. That time will be different for everyone, but right now those early adopters with USB3.0 laptops can stop your search, this is an early adopter backup drive to suit your needs.

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