If you’re on the search for a well-built, compact and reliable storage device for your media, the Western Digital My Passport Ultra could be your answer. A follow up of the ‘My Passport Edge’, this external drive offers top of the range performance with extra software features like Dropbox & WD’s SmartWare backup facility that help to keep your media safe.
As with most external drives, the aesthetics of the My Passport Ultra aren’t really anything to shout about. Even so, it’s small, light and subtle; so whether it’ll be sitting next to your laptop or tucked in to your bag when you’re on the road, it definitely won’t be getting in the way. The design itself hasn’t changed much from the My Passport Edge, but that doesn’t take away from it’s simple, yet good looks.
If you feel particular about colours, this drive comes in a choice of red, blue, titanium and black (which is what I opted for).
First and foremost, since the My Passport Ultra is a USB 3.0 device you’ll be getting superior read/write speeds in comparison to your conventional portable drives. You’ll find the impacts on performance further down this review.
WD DRIVE UTILITIES
Western Digital’s Drive Utilities software allows you to perform routine diagnostic tasks on your external drive, as well as allocate a ‘Sleep Timer‘ which gives you the ability to set a time for your drive to go in to sleep mode. This feature is really handy because, since external drives use your computer as a power source, placing them in sleep mode is both power-efficient and puts less strain on your computer too. The Utilities also allow you to completely erase your drive, although if you’re a Mac user Disk Utility will be a much better app to use for that purpose.
WD’s included Security software is a very useful feature too, because it allows you to allocate a dedicated password for your drive. To make it even more user friendly, WD even include an option to give you direct access when you log on to your computer’s username; just so you don’t have to continuously enter your password when using the drive on your own computer.
Whether it’s for damage limitation in the unfortunate event of theft, or something simpler like trying to keep your private stuff inaccessible from a nosey family member; this security feature gets two thumbs up.
SMARTWARE & DROPBOX BACKUP
PC users will definitely benefit from the WD SmartWare backup functionality included with the My Passport Ultra. The software can be set up in an efficient way so that it automatically backs up files when you add or change them, so that it doesn’t need to do a complete scan every time. Either way, you can also allocate a time for a scheduled backup too, including time, day and frequency of the backups.
For Mac users though, Time Machine actually performs the same task and is already embedded in to the operating system, so there’s little point in having additional software cluttering your computer.
What’s also really handy if you happen to work in the cloud, is the ability to backup to Dropbox too. For twice the amount of protection, you could even go as far as backing up files to Dropbox to the My Passport Ultra.
WINDOWS 8 APP
If you have already made the upgrade to Windows 8, Western Digital has a dedicated app that makes it easy to access all of your media from your drive in one unified place.
My Passport Ultra’s Performance
My Passport Ultra delivers speeds of approximately 118mbps (megabytes per second) read and write speeds, putting it way ahead of rival external drives. That level of performance means spending less time waiting for files to load and transfer from one place to another, and more time actually getting stuff done.
When connected to a USB 2.0 port though, which is likely for most people who haven’t updated their computers over the last few years, the speeds were nowhere near the USB 3.0 stats; which was to be expected. Even so, it reached approximately 34mbps read and 28mbps write speeds; still above average performance stats for external drives.
My Passport Ultra: The Bottom Line
Although to truly benefit from the performance users will need USB 3.0 ports on their computers, at around £70 this is an external drive that’ll still provide high levels of performance and value. Power users who are adamant about data speeds will enjoy the read/write specs (especially when connected to USB 3.0), and even for average users, the My Passport Ultra will make keeping your media safe an easy task with its additional software.