The smallest, lightest – and most elegant – portable backup device we’ve reviewed to date.It may not be the cheapest 320GB portable HDD around, but the new Western Digital (WD) My Passport Elite drive is the smallest and most elegant drive we’ve reviewed. On a cost/gigabyte basis, it’s also excellent value for money. Available in either bronze or titanium (gunmetal grey), it has a ‘soft touch’ finish that is very comfortable to hold and resistant to finger-marking.
The smallest, lightest – and most elegant – portable backup device we’ve reviewed to date.It may not be the cheapest 320GB portable HDD around, but the new Western Digital (WD) My Passport Elite drive is the smallest and most elegant drive we’ve reviewed. On a cost/gigabyte basis, it’s also excellent value for money. Available in either bronze or titanium (gunmetal grey), it has a ‘soft touch’ finish that is very comfortable to hold and resistant to finger-marking. . . [more]
It may not be the cheapest 320GB portable HDD around, but the new Western Digital (WD) My Passport Elite drive is the smallest and most elegant drive we’ve reviewed. On a cost/gigabyte basis, it’s also excellent value for money. Available in either bronze or titanium (gunmetal grey), it has a ‘soft touch’ finish that is very comfortable to hold and resistant to finger-marking.
The casing looks like a closed book (hence the ‘passport’ designation). But where you would expect to see pages, instead there’s a shiny black band. A single USB 2.0 port is located at one end of this band, protected by a sliding cover. Beside it is a strip of four white status LEDs that light up from left to right as files are transferred to the drive. (They also double as a capacity indicator for the drive, each light representing 25% of drive capacity.)
The titanium verison of the My Passport Elite drive, showing its compact size and stylish appearance.
Like similar products from other manufacturers, the My Passport Elite drive is powered via the supplied USB 2.0 cable and does not require an AC adaptor. Compatible with both Windows and Macintosh PCs, it comes with a small and difficult-to-read printed Quick Install Guide, which is even more lacking in helpful information than the printed guides provided with other drives we’ve reviewed. Fortunately, a more comprehensive 10-page user manual is pre-loaded in a wide variety of languages on the drive, along with an excellent software bundle. Together they occupy 1GB of the disk space.
As well as software tools folders for Windows and Mac, the software bundle includes WD Anywhere Backup, a backup and recovery application that offers automatic backup to multiple destinations and synchronisation of working files. It must be installed on the computer before it can be used, but provides an easy wizard-based user interface that lets users backup both the hard drive’s contents and the contents of a connected local drive.
Installation is wizard-based with an attractive user interface.
Copy Application Software is also provided to enable you to backup the software provided on the My Passport Elite drive. Another bundled application is WD Synch, which provides data synchronisation between different computers and allows Windows users to protect stored data with 128-bit encryption. WD Sync can run straight from the My Passport Elite hard drive without requiring installation on a host computer.
An interesting bundled application is WD MioNet, which allows users to retrieve files remotely via the Internet. You simply connect My Passport to any PC and run MioNet Key Software to access the required files. You can read email, view digital image files and read and/or edit documents. Ideal for travellers who use the drive with a notebook PC, WD MioNet requires both computers to be online. This application is free for the life of the My Passport drive. But it has a few limitations because it will restrict access to certain music and video file formats and may prevent users from sharing such files with other users.
Other bundled applications for Windows users include Google software (Desktop, Toolbar and Picasa). You may already have some of these applications installed, in which case the installer will update the programs, if required. However, even if you don’t have them already, the installation GUI gives you the option of choosing which programs you wish to add to your computer.
Installing the software on our Windows PC took just over five minutes. The installer is wizard-based and very straightforward, with an attractive graphic interface as shown in the illustrations below.
The installer lets you choose which applications you wish to install.
You can track the installation process.
WD Synch is easy to customise to your requirements.
You can decide where backup files will be located and set up a dedicated folder in WD Anywhere Backup.
Files are talleyed as they are backed up and you can view the tally process or have the backup run i nthe background while you use your computer for other purposes.
The My Passport Elite drive also offers plug-and-play capability with certain gaming consoles, allowing users to play music and view photos and video files on a TV. Western Digital also offers a very generous five-year limited warranty on its drives, covering manufacturing and mechanical faults.
In our performance tests it took six minutes and 31 seconds to backup a 1.64GB folder of mixed files on a fairly slow Windows PC with a Pentium D 3.00GHz chip with 3.25GB of RAM. We then moved the folder back to a 4GB SanDisk Extreme IV CF card, using the USB 2.0 Lexar Professional UDMA CF/SD card reader. Transfer time was four minutes and 38.5 seconds, which makes it slightly faster than Verbatim’s SmartDisk 120GB drive.
You can set WD Anywhere Backup to run in the background, when the computer is idle, and leave it to track changes and back up files that have been edited. However, this setting is not recommended for the initial backup involving copying files and folders to the drive, which should take place as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, with our slow Windows PC, running WD Anywhere Backup in the background was glacially slow. We found it took approximately three hours to backup 238GB of documents and pictures in this mode, even though the computer was idle for most of the time. Once installed, however, WD Anywhere Backup proved capable of meeting its ‘set it and forget it’ claims, although it tended to slow normal operations somewhat.
Type: Compact, portable hard disk drive
Rotational speed: 5400 RPM
Interface: One USB 2.0 Mini-B port
Data transfer rate: Up to 480Mbits/second (USB 2.0)
Power supply: via USB cable
Dimensions: 126.15 x 79.5 x 15 mm
Weight: 105 grams
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Cost per gigabyte: $0.87
Rating (out of 10):
- Build: 9
- Ease of use: 9
- Software: 8.5
- OVERALL: 9