WD My Passport Portable Hard Drive Review: Slim, Spacious and Secure

WD’s My Passport is a high capacity portable HDD boasting top-notch security

WD My Passport Portable Hard Drive
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

WD’s My Passport is slimmer than ever and affordably priced. With a 3-year warranty and hardware encryption, it’s a well-backed and secure option for those looking for dense portable storage


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    Competitively priced

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    AES 256-bit hardware encryption

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    Solid software suite

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    3-year warranty


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    Dated Micro USB connection

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    Slides around on your desk

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If you’re on the hunt for a new external hard drive, WD’s My Passport is a well-rounded choice. With a solid track record, password protection, and capacities of up to 5TB, it’s prepared to store a lot -- if not all -- of your data and keep it safe.

WD’s My Passport is a popular seller and for good reason. It’s priced competitively and offers up a pretty good value if you are looking for a lot of portable storage on the cheap compared to SSDs. These portable hard disk drives (HDDs) aren’t the flashiest or fastest of storage devices, but having had quite a few pass through my hands over the years for various backup or data migration purposes, they always get the job done.


The new My Passport has been slimmed down a bit compared to its predecessors, but packs some decent density. WD’s My Passport comes in capacities of 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB. All are backed by a 3-year limited warranty and priced to move. Our 5TB review unit sold for $127 on Amazon and Newegg when we wrote this. The company doesn’t provide performance ratings on these portable HDDs, but performance can hit upwards of 120-140 MBps, depending on the capacity.

Out of the box, the drive comes formatted as NTFS for use in Windows. There is a Mac model that comes preformatted for Macs, too. Plus, WD’s My Passport comes secured with AES 256-bit hardware encryption to keep your data from slipping into the wrong hands if it ever leaves yours.

On the go, WD’s My Passport is rated to operate in temperatures of 5-35 degrees Celsius (41-95 degrees Fahrenheit). And unlike SSDs, it isn’t rated to well for shocks. The company even warns end-users to not drop or jolt the drive, nor move the drive during any activity.

That, aside from slower speeds, is the main downside of opting for a hard drive over an SSD. If you drop it, particularly while it’s running, and the read/write head doesn’t have a chance to safely park first, you could damage the drive and lose your data. So be extra careful with your backup drive if it’s an HDD rather than an SSD.

Software and Accessories

WD’s My Passport comes with an 18-inch USB A to Micro USB B cable, which is about the perfect length -- not too short, nor too long. Additionally, the company provides users with WD Discovery software, which enables you to manage almost everything about your drive.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

With WD Discovery, you can enable the My Passport’s AES 256-bit hardware encryption-based password protection via WD security software. The software also provides download links for WD’s Drive Utilities to configure and check up on your drive’s health, as well as WD’s Backup software. The backup software lets you quickly and conveniently schedule automatic backups. WD Discovery software even lets you backup media from social media and cloud services like Facebook, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

A Closer Look

Encased within its plastic enclosure, WD opted to utilize a Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR, a technology that overlaps data tracks to increase density)-based 2.5” HDD, model: WD50NDZW-11MR8S1 on our 5TB sample. It comes with a 128MB DRAM cache and has the USB bridge and connector built-in rather than using a standard SATA connection. Of course, it is a SED or self-encrypting drive, as it comes with AES 256-bit hardware encryption.

WD’s My Passport comes in two sizes depending on the capacity you get. The 1TB and 2TB models measure 4.22 x 2.95 x 0.44 inches and weigh 120 grams (4.2 ounces). Due to the increased number of platters that WD’s My Passport needs to reach 4TB and 5TB, the larger capacities are bit bulkier. Rather than your standard 7mm SSD or 9.5mm HDD, the HDD in this models measures 15mm thick, which also adds to the weight. The 4TB and 5TB models measure in at 4.22 x 2.95 x 0.75 inches and 210g/7.4 ounces.

Along with a redesign to slim down a bit, the My Passport is also available in three colors: black, red, and blue. It features a small white power indicator light that only appears visible when the device is powered on.


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Sean Webster
Storage Reviewer

Sean is a Contributing Editor at Tom’s Hardware US, covering storage hardware.