Western Digital’s My Passport range has a long history as a reliable portable storage medium. The latest drive is smaller, lighter and faster than any My Passport that has come before.
Solid State Drives (SSD) have revolutionised the storage market. Capacities might be smaller and cost more than traditional optical drives, but they’re far faster and more robust.
Physical drive sizes have dropped considerably, with the casing of the My Passport SSD being almost half the size of a traditional My Passport. The new drive measures just 90 x 45 x 10mm (LxWxH) compared with 110 x 81 x 16.3mm of the older design.
The drive comes in three different capacities: 256, 512 and 1TB, with the prices escalating to reflect.
As this drive uses the latest technology, it also features the USB-C connection; this ensures the fastest possible transfer rates of up to 515mb/s.
If like me, you’re lagging behind slightly with the latest technology, WD also includes a neat adapter plug so that the drive will fit standard USB 2.0 through to USB 3.1.
Being SSD, the drive has no moving parts so it’s far more robust than a traditional optical drive. This means that to some extent it is drop proof (photographer proof) and has an operating environment range of between 5 and 35º.
The drive comes formatted as ExFat but can be easily re-formatted to a more sensible file structure such as HFS for Mac or NTFS for PC.
A couple of handy applications are supplied on the drive; WD Drive Utilities and WD Security.
WD Drive Utilities enables you to check the integrity and health of the drive with a status check and two levels of drive testing. It also allows you to reformat the drive into your prefered file format quickly.
WD Security enables you to lock a drive with a password. WD Security can be useful if you’re working on a shoot that involves an NDA, and it’s a legal obligation to keep the images or video safe and secure.
Build quality and handling
The overall design and finish of the drive is nice enough. Maybe a little overdesigned when you look at the two-tone, two textured finish, but that’s personal preference.
The outer, unlike the Samsung T5, is plastic, and while the black top section feels of a good quality, I worry that the textured silver bottom section, will, over time wear and look tatty. Especially taking into consideration that this is designed as a portable drive.
The My Passport SSD is compact, far smaller than a laptop SSD that is commonly found within many older portable drives. Its shape is also ideal for slipping neatly into a pocket in a camera bag. You just have to make sure there’s enough room for the USB cable as well.
The recent swap to the USB-C is a very welcome update for storage devices all round. I was far from happy with the USB 3.0 design that seemed better at destroying drives than transferring data.
The USB-C cable that WD provides in the box is of high quality and decent length. This sounds picky, but does it need to be the size and length that it is, remembering that this is a portable, not desktop drive and when the drive is so small do you need a cable that is practically the same size?
The drive comes pre-formated in the ExFat file format. This format enables the drive to be used between Mac and PC’s, but ideally, you should reformat to the correct file format before use.
Before you reformat, it’s worth copying the files the come preloaded onto the drive off so that you can install the Drive Utilities and Security applications. Although both can be downloaded from the wdc.com website.
Once the drive is formatted it can then be used as with any other external drive, simply plug it in, and you’re ready to start working.
I tested the drive as a working drive in use with Final Cut Pro X, Audition and Photoshop. I found it able to keep up with the workflow well. Saving files down and opening them was as quick as using the MacPro’s internal SSD.
Having the USB 2.0-3.1 adapter in the box was a small but good addition, enabling the transfer of the drive between new and old machines without fuss.
After a couple of hours of continual use, the drive does heat up and becomes warm to the touch, but not burning hot as with some other drives.
The performance that you get out of an SSD is undoubtedly far better than a traditional optical drive. They’re also far more robust.
This proved to be the case with the My Passport SSD, read and write times we’re quick when in use editing video through a USB 3.0 connection.
As ever with any piece of kit the design divides opinion. I must admit I’m not to keen on the two-tone approach, but then I find the metal case of the Samsung T5 a little dull and the Sandisk Extreme is slightly quirky and only available in USB 3.0 at the moment.
Recently Ange reviewed the Samsung T5 and was impressed by the overall build quality. She’s also taken a look at the My Passport SSD and commented:
“The T5 has a nice curved aluminium shell, which gives it a high-quality feel, the Sandisk My Passport SSD in comparison feels rather flimsy and plastic.”
There is no doubt that the Samsung does look and feel like a higher quality piece of kit, but when it comes to performance and price both they are evenly matched.
The My Passport SSD is a decent addition to the WD range of My Passport products, and if you have already invested in the WD My Passport Duo or one of the WD EX boxes, then the familiar software and management will appeal.
The My Passport SSD is a superb portable drive and despite some concerns over the quality of plastic and design, it proved to be a solid performer.