Western Digital recently announced the newest addition to their range of external hard drives, the My Passport Slim. Available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, this drive is a follow up to the My Passport Ultra that we recently reviewed, and now comes in an aluminium topped enclosure with 256-bit hardware-based encryption.
It’s definitely one of Western Digital’s better looking external drives, and brings an included software bundle that makes backup and security quick and easy for anyone to use.
Since this model has been released a short time after the My Passport Ultra, it’ll be interesting to see what extra value it brings to the table.
Design & Build Quality
The more noticeable change from the previous model is the 4.33 (w) x 3.14 (d) x 0.48 inch (h) aluminium-topped enclosure. It makes a welcome change from the more common all-plastic builds you’ll find on other external hard drives, even though it covers only one of the surfaces.
This change gives the My Passport Slim a more clean and elegant look along with a more protective and sturdy feel too. It would have been nice to see the aluminium cover more of the drive, but maybe we’ll see that in future releases.
I was quite surprised to find that the drive wasn’t as slim as the name suggests. It turns out that the 1TB model only measures at 3mm (0.13 inches) slimmer than the My Passport Ultra, which really isn’t much of a difference. If you opt for the 2TB model instead you’re looking at an even bigger 0.7 inch-high enclosure, so when you take in to consideration that WD’s My Passport Air (for Mac) is packed in to an impressive 0.43 inch-high build, you may find yourself struggling to admire the dimensions of the My Passport ‘Slim’.
You can expect this drive to come out of the box packed with WD software like WD Smartware, WD Security, WD Drive Utilities, Dropbox integration and a dedicated Windows 8 app. It’s a bundle that Western Digital included in the Ultra by default as well, and I found it was really handy in helping novice users to back up & protect important data easily.
For Windows users in particular, WD Drive Utilities simplifies the task of maintaining & formatting your hard drive whilst WD Smartware & Dropbox integration make it easy to back up & sync your data to the cloud – giving you another backup location automatically. On the flipside Mac users won’t find much value in these two features because the pre-installed software on OS X (Disk Utility and Time Machine) deal with disk maintenance and backups by default.
Something that’s useful for all users is WD’s Security feature. It’s so secure that you’ll want to make sure you remember the password you give the My Passport Slim, because if you happen to forget it the 256-bit encryption will make it near impossible for even you to retrieve the data. For a portable hard drive that kind of security is welcome though, especially in worst-case scenarios where you might lose the drive or in the unfortunate event of theft.
On our tests, the My Passport Slim produced Write speeds of 29 MB/s and Read speeds of 34 MB/s when connected to a USB 2.0 port. All in all, it sits in the top tier of performance for external hard drives but doesn’t offer much more than the My Passport Ultra.
When connected to USB 3.0 ports, the My Passport Slim still performed well reaching 118MB/s Write speeds and 91MB/s Read speeds. These stats are inferior to the Ultra’s 118MB/s Read/Write speeds, although the difference isn’t something noticeable in day to day tasks.
My Passport Slim: The Bottom Line
In terms of form factor and design, the My Passport Slim offers a trimmed down, good looking enclosure that’ll appeal to the design-conscious consumer. The thing is, this change in build is probably the most noteworthy aspect of the Slim and with a £119.99 price tag, you may not feel the need to upgrade if you already own a USB 3.0 drive. Also, when you consider that the older Ultra is retailing for around £89.95 with similar performance specs (and only 3mm taller), it may be worth the compromise on design to save yourself £30.
The software features that WD includes are intuitive & useful, but when it comes to performance there’s very little added value to shout about when using USB 3.0 ports, as the Slim came up short against the older Ultra. Having said that, when tested on USB 2.0 ports (which is what older computers will have) – it had performance that rivals many top of the range external drives, making it a fantastic upgrade for anybody currently using a USB 2.0 external hard drive.
The bottom line is, if you don’t yet own a USB 3.0 external drive and want something that’ll make backups & security easy, this will definitely be a worthwhile purchase.