Huge capacity; great speed; full-featured software package
Backup software is not reliable or good for advanced users; cant make backup images
At 2TB, WD’s My Passport is the largest-capacity USB hard drive we’ve ever tested, and its four chunky 500GB platters rotate at 5,400rpm. In the palm it feels about as thick as a huge English muffin with a piece of ham in the middle, or a water-logged deck of cards; it’s the thickest drive in this roundup, but only by a tiny margin over the 1.5TB Toshiba. Though this drive is pudgier than the rest at 0.8-inch thick, it’s noticeably shorter than the other two drives at just 4.2 inches long. It comes in a variety of pleasingly subtle, matte color finishes (red, blue, black, gray, white) and is available in sizes ranging from 500GB to 2TB.
Hello, sexy. We’re talking about its capacity, not its looks.
The software package included with the My Passport is well-rounded, and includes backup software, an encryption utility, and a diagnostic tool. It should be noted that software for both Mac and PC are included, though obviously we’re only testing the PC version. The backup software is called WD Smartware and is based on Memeo Backup —it backs up everything instantly without any user intervention, so you just tell it to keep an eye on “Documents,” for example, and it automatically copies any files it sees that are documents. We learned the hard way, though, that “Documents” means .doc files, and not just any files placed into the Documents folder, which was confusing. Adding to the confusion was a lack of information about whether a backup had taken place once new files had been added to a monitored directory. You also can’t create a backup image of your entire drive, which is another flaw. We rarely use bundled software, so this isn’t that big of a deal for us, but it’s a strike against WD nevertheless. The software does include a file-retrieval service in case you lose data, and it works well, letting you put files back into their original location or just dump them into a predetermined folder. Other bundled software includes a password-protection utility that requires a password to access the drive, and a drive-health monitor, which is useful.
To test the drive’s mettle we copied 30GB of media files to it from our desktop PC running a Samsung 830 SSD boot drive, and it took top honors by taking just eight minutes, 46 seconds to complete the job. This was the fastest speed in our roundup of these drives, even though all the drives have roughly the same specs, so kudos to WD for the victory. Its time was almost three minutes faster than the Adata drive and two minutes faster than the Toshiba, so the performance difference is significant.
Overall, there’s a lot to like about the WD drive, but we’re dinging it pretty hard for having flaky backup software. The password-protection function is nice, but our favorite two things about it are that it’s the biggest USB drive available, and of these three, it’s also the fastest.