Sleek new WD My Passport SSD offers 2 TB of storage, blazing-fast speeds [Review]

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WD My Passport SSD review
Western Digital’s redesigned mobile SSD is an ideal companion for MacBook or iPad.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Even in a world where everything can be stored in the cloud, there’s still a role for an external drive. Especially if it’s high-performance, and can go anywhere. Western Digital’s new solid state drive is slim and light, but also rugged. And the WD My Passport SSD holds up to 2 TB of data, and is far faster than a traditional hard drive.

Here’s how this newly-released peripheral stands up to real-world use with a range of computers.

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WD My Passport SSD review

External drives are useful for anyone with a new computer or an old one. The WD My Passport SSD is easily portable, so it’s ready for you to back up your Mac or PC any time.

And if your laptop no longer has room for all the files you’d like to carry around, then the drive can easily add terabytes of capacity.

Plus, it offers wide compatibility. It’s an easy way to transfer large files between computers. Or share a collection of files with multiple people.

True, all of these tasks can be done with cloud storage, but the My Passport SSD offers faster access. And greater security — no one can access files on this drive without physically touching it.

Hardware

My Passport SSD is 3.9 inches tall, 2.2 inches wide and 0.4 inches thick, making it quite pocketable. And there’s not a sharp corner or edge to be seen. It comes in gray, blue, red or gold. And a raised pattern breaks up the blandness, and also makes the drive easier to hold.

But if this accessory does slip out of your hand, Western Digital built in drop resistance up to 6.5 feet (1.98m). And it includes shock and vibration resistance, too. Just what you’d expect from an SSD.

Don’t confuse this redesigned 2020 model with the earlier version. That one is much blockier. And it offers slower performance, too.

The latest My Passport SSD uses USB-C, with the port on the bottom edge. But this drive can also connect via USB-A, so it can be used with most computers made it the last decade. A 3.5-inch cable connects the drive to your device. And an optional USB-A adapter clips on the end.

Unfortunately, there’s no LED built into this accessory to indicate when it’s receiving power, or doing a read/write.

WD My Passport SSD is missing a status LED.
The USB-C port on the My Passport SSD makes it compatible with a wide variety of electronics.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

WD My Passport SSD performance

No software drivers are needed for basic functionality of the drive. It’s plug and play. Tests confirmed this with an iPad Pro, an iPhone with USB-A adapter, an Android phone and a Microsoft Surface running Windows 10. Even a wireless router with USB file sharing.

The My Passport SSD uses USB 3.2 Gen-2 and NVMe technology to offer read speeds of up to 1050 MBps and write speeds of up to 1000 MBps. That’s twice as fast as the previous version of this drive.

In real-world testing, copying a 1.05 GB video file from an iPad Pro to the external drive took 10 seconds. Copying the same file from the drive to the tablet took 5 seconds. Working with larger files sometimes changes the results in surprising ways, but not this time. Copying a 10.74 GB file from the iPad to the SSD took 106 seconds, while copying the same file from the drive to the tablet took 53 seconds. Multiple tests runs got almost exactly the same results.

Theoretically, the transfer should have been much faster, but that’s the difference between real-world and performance and theoretical performance.

These results are using the cable that Western Digital supplied with this product. All USB-C cables aren’t created equal, however. For comparison, copying the 1.05 GB file from the iPad Pro to the My Passport SSD with an off-the-self retractable USB-C cable took 35 seconds. Moving it back took 34 seconds.

Heavy use causes this drive to grow warm, but not hot.

Backups and Security

Western Digital pre-loads onto the drive its WD Discovery software for macOS and Windows. This offers backups, but the utility is designed around scheduling these on a regular basis, which assumes the drive will be constantly attached to your computer. That’s not ideal for a mobile drive like the My Passport SSD.

The drive offers optional 256-bit AES hardware encryption, but a Mac or Windows utility is necessary to password protect the contents of the SSD. It’s required to lock and unlock it, too. This means the My Passport SSD can’t be used with an iPad or iPhone if it’s been locked, as there’s no iOS/iPadOS version of the unlocking app.

WD My Passport SSD has a 1980’s esthetic.
Sleek. Slim. Svelte. Pick your adjective — they all describe the My Passport SSD.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

WD My Passport SSD final thoughts

iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive… they all have their place. But so do traditional external hard drives like the WD My Passport SSD. It’s ideal for people who’ve outgrown the storage built into their MacBook or other laptop because it’s much faster than cloud storage. And more secure.

Western Digital could make some improvements to the software it bundles with this drive, though.

Pricing

The suggested retail price for the 2 TB version of the 2020 WD My Passport SSD is $359.99. The 1 TB version is $189.99, and the 500 GB one is $119.99.

Currently, Amazon offers $20 off the regular cost of the 1 TB or the 2 TB version.

Buy from: Amazon

Comparable products

The Samsung T7 is a direct competitor. Cult of Mac testing shows the two SSDs are about the same size, and offer the same functionality. Pricing is similar, too.

The previous model of Western Digital’s My Passport SSD is still available at considerable savings. The 2 TB version is $284.99, for example. Just remember that this older one promises half the data transfer speeds of the 2020 version.

Western Digital provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.