With an alluring aluminum design, the Western Digital My Passport Slim USB 3.0 portable hard drive is less than an inch thick, but packs a 1TB hard drive and security features such as password protection. Read on to see whether that's enough to set this $99 device apart.
WD's My Passport Slim comes in a sleek, chic two-piece aluminum enclosure, giving it a premium look and feel not found in most external drives. The top of the drive is a shiny silver, which sits in a cobalt casing that wraps around its sides. The included soft satchel helps keep the drive looking pristine.
Measuring 4.3 x 3.2 x 0.49 inches and weighing 5.7 ounces, the Slim is mighty thin and light. The WD My Passport Ultra is a lighter 5.5 ounces but it's a much chunkier 5.4 x 3.4 x 0.9 inches. The $99 1TB LaCie Rikiki USB 3.0 comes in at 2.9 x 4.6 x 0.7 inches and 7.1 ounces, while the 500GB Seagate Slim ($79.99) measures 3 x 4.5 x 0.4 inches and weighs 5.3 ounces.
MORE: Best Laptops 2013
Like the company's My Passport Ultra, the Slim is a simple plug-and-play affair. We plugged the drive into a MacBook Air, and it was instantly recognized. However, if you want to use the included security and utility features, you'll have to install them from the drive, a process that takes no more than a few minutes.
The My Passport Slim comes with WD Drive Utilities and WD Security. Available in both Mac and Windows versions, these apps allow you to protect your drive and make sure it's running smoothly. The installation process is rather simple -- just launch the installers from the drive itself.
WD Drive Utilities allows users to run diagnostic tests on the My Passport Slim, and S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) Status attempts to predict potential drive failures. Quick and Complete Drive Tests check for disk errors; the first test takes a few minutes, but the latter could take hours on a drive of this size, WD warns.
A Sleep Timer allows you to set when the My Passport Slim enters a low-power state after idling for a given period of time. Drive Erase is rather straightforward, but you're better off going with the Mac or Windows-based disk management tools, which offer more options for formatting the drive.
MORE: Best Gaming Laptop 2013
WD Security allows you to set a password to lock your drive, but also has an auto-unlock feature for preferred user accounts on a given machine. Setting this password also automatically enables 256-bit hardware encryption for added peace of mind. However, WD has no way of recovering this password should you forget it, thus forcing you to wipe the drive.
The My Passport Slim is also compatible with WD SmartWare Pro, the company's Dropbox-powered cloud backup utility, though it costs an additional $19.95.
Copying a 4.97GB folder of multimedia files from our testbed to the My Passport Slim took 1:37, a write speed of 52.5 MBps. That rate is also far below the 80 MBps average-- which includes some SSDs -- but still soundly beats WD's own My Passport Ultra (20.4 MBps).
Sending the same folder back to our testbed took 1 minute and 23 seconds for a read speed of 61.3 MBps, less than the 81 MBps average. Still, that showing beats the WD My Passport Ultra's 29.8 MBps read speed when tested on the same system.
The My Passport Slim performed much better with large individual files. Copying a 3.49GB ISO file from the drive to our testbed took a swift 34 seconds, a 149.7 MBps read speed. Sending that same file back to the My Passport Slim was also quick: 36 seconds for a 141.4 MBps write speed.
On the synthetic disk performance benchmark CrystalDiskMark, the My Passport Slim was more evenly matched with the Ultra. When transferring a single 1000MB sequentially, the Slim registered read and write speeds of 34.7 and 27.5 MBps, respectively. The My Passport Ultra did the same task at a 34.7 MBps sequential read speed and a slightly faster 28.5 MBps write speed.
We also tested the Slim's random read and write speeds at two levels. When transferring 512K blocks of data, this drive returned a read speed of 23 MBps and a 26.7 MBps write speed. This beats the Ultra's 22.7 and 26.6 MBps read and write speeds, respectively, but not by much. When copying 4K blocks of data, both drives returned 0.5 MBps read and 1.5 MBps write speeds.
Configurations and Warranty
If 1TB of space isn't enough for you, WD offers a 2TB option with all the same features for $150. That's a fine price for twice the storage in this form factor, though the 2TB option is thicker, at 0.70 inches, and heavier at 7.7 ounces. Each My Passport Slim comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
For $99, the 1TB WD My Passport Slim packs a ton of storage into a highly portable design. Plus, Western Digital includes some helpful utilities to keep your files secure. While we wish its performance were better, the My Passport Slim is well suited for those who want to carry their files easily and inexpensively.