WD makes a range of portable storage devices under the My Passport brand. GadgetGuy reviewed the My Passport Ultra 4TB and the My Passport SSD.

Portable storage seems to be a battle between capacity and speed. SSD provides speed and capacity to 1TB. Ultra uses a spinning hard disk and capacity up to 4TB.

In a few years’ time, SSD will be at cost parity per GB with hard disks – there will be no more need to compromise.

Review WD My Passport SSD (Global website  here)

This is a diminutive sized SSD at 90 x 45 x 10mm x 39g (without cable). It is USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 capable which means data transfer speeds of up to 10Gb/s or 1250MB/s. Of course, to achieve to achieve that you need a computer with a similar UBS-C spec or Thunderbolt 3.

My Passport

Brief specs

  • Mac (requires reformatting) and Windows capable
  • Backward compatible with USB 2.0 (maximum 480MB/s)
  • Will withstand a drop of 1.98m (important for portable devices).
  • WD Backup software will back to a hard drive or Dropbox cloud service account.
  • Compatible with Apple Time Machine (requires reformatting). It has a three-year warranty.
  • WD Discovery software provided
  • Can use password protection
  • 256-bit AES Hardware Encryption with WD Security software

The test unit capacity was 512GB, and we used a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Cable connection was via a USB-A 3.0 to USB-C adaptor (supplied). We would expect faster results on a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 device. If possible, we will update these figures with a Thunderbolt 3 device.

Crystal Disk Info identified it as SanDisk SATA 600 with 477GB usable space.

The figures below are very respectable for a portable device. Interestingly reads from the disk are usually faster than writes to it.

My Passport

My PassportWe compared it to a 1TB Samsung T3 SATA 600 (now superseded by the T5). This is the fastest (and most expensive) portable SSD. While the Samsung figures blow the WD out of the water for raw speed remember that you are using this as a backup device and speed needs only to be respectable for typical use. If you were backing up large GB files, then speed becomes important.

 

Pro

  • Far better than a USB Flash drive
  • Comes with USB-C cable and USB-A adaptor
  • Nice looks
  • Light and small
  • Fit for purpose
  • Lots of WD software

Con

  • Slower than a Samsung T3
  • No IP rating – keep away from pool and toilets

GadgetGuy’s take – My Passport SSD it a great portable

A great little backup device with capacities up to 1TB.

Price

From Officeworks

  • 256GB – $196
  • 512GB – $229
  • 1TB – $624

Look online for bargains. There is no issue buying a parallel import of this product.

Review WD My Passport Ultra (Global website here)

Note this is the new model with a ‘wave’ design case.

My Passport

Let’s assume that it does almost everything the SSD does and has similar software. Just don’t drop it as there is a spinning disk inside.

It is also larger at 110 x 81.5 x 21.5mm x  241g.

The test unit was a 4TB – capacities range from 1TB

Crystal Disk Info says it is a WD SATA 600, 5400RPM hard disk. It comes with a USB-A 3.0 to USB 3.0 micro-B 10 pin connector (it has a micro-USB beside a power connector).

No matter how fast the USB 3.0 interface is, it will be limited by the read/write speeds of the hard disk.

Speeds

While Crystal Disk Mark shows a reasonable (to be expected from a hard disk) internal read and write speed the aging USB-A to micro-B interface really lets it down for large file transfers giving speeds from .5MB/s to 1MB/s.

GadgetGuy’s take. My Passport Ultra – slow but fine for external backup

99% of review don’t bother to run data transfer tests like Crystal DiskMark. While no test is a perfect recreation of real world use, it is at least a benchmark.

Looking at the test results for larger files prompted me to test an older My Passport Ultra 2TB. It also used the micro-B connector. The test results were similar. Fine read/write speeds but lousy for larger files. Still I have been using it for years and found it perfectly good for backup.

So, we have answered the conundrum. SSD for speed/durability and hard disk for capacity.

Pro

  • Nice design
  • Lots of useful WD software
  • Great for bulk storage – cost effective

Con

  • Still a hard disk so not as forgiving as an SSD
  • Slow

Price

Officeworks

  • 1TB – $99
  • 2TB – $153
  • 4TB – $239