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WD My Passport 2019 Review: The Bread and Butter of Portable Storage

The new 5TB WD My Passport 2019 portable drive. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

If you search for a portable drive, chances are you’ll run into a WD My Passport from Western Digital. For years, this brand has been a popular and safe choice of storage on the go. The latest 2019 version ups the storage space to 5TB with the suggested retail price of $149.99. I took it for a spin and found it worth the currently high cost.

In all, the new WD My Passport is still far from perfect. But for general consumers, it serves its purpose and has more to offer than the storage vendor’s more expensive all-new P10 Game Drive.

WD My Passport Portable External Hard Drive

8.4

Performance

8.0/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Fast and reliable performance
  • Compact yet capacious
  • Useful backup and security software

Cons

  • No USB-C
  • A bit pricey
  • No color options for certain capacities

WD My Passport 2019: The same drive that’s different

The new WD My Passport looks a bit different from its predecessor with a more compact design. It’s slightly thinner and narrower on all sides. The new portable drive uses a not-for-resale internal hard drive designed specifically for mobile applications.

For example, the 5TB version uses a hard drive model WD50NDZW-11MR8S1. It’s a 15mm-thick, 1TB per platter, 5400 RPM drive with 128MB cache that uses USB 3.0 interface. So, you can’t remove it from the new My Passport shell to use with other standard purposes, like inside a laptop.

From the user’s perspective, the new My Passport is still quite similar, however. It has a regular micro-USB 3.2 Gen 1 (formerly USB 3.0) port — it has no USB-C support — and comes included with a standard USB cable. The drive is bus-powered and doesn’t require a separate power adapter. It also works with USB 2.0 port.

The drive has one little white indicator light near the USB port that flashes during operation. You can turn this light off using a software tool, however.

The three colors of the new WD My Passport 2019 portable drives. WD

The new My Passport is available in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB capacities. The 1TB and 5TB versions are available only in black while you can find the others also in blue and red.

Valuable software bundle

Out of the box, the new drive is formatted in the NTFS file system to work immediately with Windows. You can use it with Mac, but you’ll need to reformat it. The drive comes with the installer of the WD Discovery software suite for both Windows and Mac.

The suite includes three applications including WD Backup, WD Drive Utilities, and WD Security. Keep in mind that you need to have a live Internet connection to install the apps. I tried them all out and found them valuable.

WD Backup: An enhanced File History

The WD Backup is a backup solution for Windows which works similarly to Windows’ built-in File History. There’s no system imaging function, but you can choose which files or folders you’d like to backup. The software will then automatically keep many versions of the data for you on a schedule, as often as every hour. You won’t need to do anything else.

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There’s one thing WD Backup is better than File History: The latest version of data is kept identical to the original. As a result, you can quickly browse the backup and copy your files back using Windows Explorer, without having to use the backup software for recovery. You can’t do that with File History since it automatically suffixes individual files with the date and time information.

On the downside, using third party software means you’ll have to sacrifice the system’s resources. And in my trial WD Backup did uses more system memory and CPU power than File History, during a backup job.

WD Drive Utilities: Userful tools

The WD Drive Utilities application includes a few handy tools that you can use to manage the drive. These include checking the drive’s condition, testing for bad sectors, reformating, adjusting sleep time, and so on.

You don’t need these tools, but it’s always nice to be able to know what’s going on with your drive.

WD Security: Keeping your data safe

If you intend to use the new My Passport to store important data, the WD Security will come in handy. This software tool works with the drive’s 256-bit AES hardware encryption feature to protect your information from prying eyes.

Once turned on, only those with the password can access the drive — if you lose the password, there’s no way to recover the data, by the way.

WD Security worked very well in my testing. Once a drive is protected, it includes a built-in software opener, allowing you to type in the password even on computers that don’t have WD Security installed.

Online service data import

Other than the useful applications above, WD Discovery also includes data importing tools to backup your data from online services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook, Instagram. I tried this out with Facebook and Instagram, and both worked. Keep in mind, though, that if you have multiple pages with Facebook, the tool will automatically pick one (or your main profile) for the import and currently. For now, there’s no way for you to change that.

The 5TB My Passport 2019 portable drive (right) vs. a 4TB predecessor. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

WD My Passport 2019: Fast performance

Having a 5400 RPM hard drive on the inside, the new WD My Passport doesn’t intend to break any record. But it performed well in my testing nonetheless. I tested the 5TB version, and it has sustained copy speeds of around 120 MB/s for both writing and reading when used with a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port.

When plugged to a USB 2.0 port, the WD My Passport worked well, too, with around 40 MB/s. I the drive for more than a week and had no issues with it. The drive remained cool even during prolonged backup tasks. Its internal drive made very little noise and produced a minimum amount of vibrations.

Conclusion

With up to 5TB storage space, useful software bundle, and fast performance, the new WD My Passport 2019 is an excellent choice. It’s suitable for both general extra/backup storage space as well as a secure drive to carry essential data on the go.

As a new product, however, the drive is currently quite expensive compared to other of the same capacities. That said, it’s a good idea to wait for the street prices to come down before getting yours.

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About the Author: Dong Ngo

Before Dong Knows Tech, I spent some 18 years testing and reviewing gadgets at CNET.com. Technology is my passion and I do know it. | Follow me on Twitter, or Facebook!

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