For years, I have been using Western Digital My Passport drives. I never had a concrete reason to buy WD drives, it just so happens that I do. At the risk of jinxing the drives I own (I do this for you, the readers), I will say this, I have never had any of my WD My Passport drives fail on me. That is not to say that I haven’t experienced My Passport failures. I know of at least two people that have had WD My Passport failures. One of which I still have the external case at home.
Western Digital delivered to us its latest model of the My Passport Essential external drive. Unlike its previous My Passports, this latest model not only sports a smaller form factor but a 1TB capacity at that.
The piano finish of the MPE makes it glossy and pretty much a finger print magnet. The bottom holds four rubber feet which prevents the drive from freely moving which is dangerous especially while the drive is in use. This is a good move since the previous model that I had did not have the rubber feet and my heart would always skip a beat when I accidentally bushed my hand on the drive would start to spin.
The MPE performs as well as predecessors. I was getting an average of 24Mbps both ways with its USB 2.0 interface. Another difference with this latest My Passport Essential is that it now uses a micro-USB port instead of the mini-USB with previous generations. This means that I can’t use the same USB cable from my older Passports and unlike its predecessors, do not have any kind of cover for the port.
In terms of the included software, the WD SmartWare does as advertised in terms of letting you back up the contents of your computer’s hard drive. It also allows you to encrypt the drive for added security. On the other hand, unlike Hitachi’s LifeStation app, it does not allow you store your most important files into the cloud for additional protection.
One thing that Western Digital has done to the My Passport Essential is that they have made their software available though a virtual drive that is separate from the hard drive partition itself. This can be a positive or negative depending on your views on virtual drives. Personally, having a virtual drive keeps the MPE free from the clutter of having the installers on the drive’s partition. On the other hand, some might find having another drive pop up in addition to the hard drive partition annoying. Unfortunately, there is no way to remove the virtual drive although you can hide it if it really annoys you.
Overall, the smaller profile of the new Western Digital My Passport Essential makes it a better digital wallet than the older MPEs. Construction is also solid even with the plastic cover and the rubber feet helps reduce accidental movement which may lead to an unusable drive. It may collect scratches here and there in its lifetime but as long as you take relatively good care of the drive, you won’t regret the purchase.
Plus: small form factor; up to 1TB capacity
Minus: Not yet USB3.0; Micro-USB port makes it incompatible with previous My Passport Essential mini-USB cables
Bottomline: I would have given it a higher rating if it was USB3.0 but as it is, the My Passport Essential external drive is a great drive for any road warrior.