Western Digital My Passport Elite Review

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$169
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Compatible with Mac OS X, Windows 2000, XP, Vista; Attractive design; MioNet and Google Desktop software; Long five-year limited warranty

The Cons

Windows-only encryption software; Slow write speed

Verdict

This attractive portable hard drive isn't the fastest on the block, but it packs plenty of storage and security.

When traveling abroad, your passport is one thing you can never leave home without. Western Digital hopes its My Passport Elite will be just as indispensable during your journeys. This sturdy external hard drive won't identify you to the authorities, but it will provide security for your files and functionality that you wouldn't normally expect from a typical portable storage device.

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Passport Elite Design

Measuring 5.0 x 3.1 x 0.6 inches and weighing 6.4 ounces, the Passport Elite sports a soft-touch finish, which adds some sophistication over your typical external hard drive, as well as a sliding door that protects the USB port when the My Passport Elite isn't in use. The external drive comes in either a 250GB ($169) or 320GB ($199) capacity and a variety of colors (Gray, Bronze, Cherry, and Westminster Blue), so you can choose one that best suits your style.

Easy Backup, Shutterfly Connectivity

Backing up data is a snap. We simply plugged the drive into a notebook (we tested it successfully on both Mac OS X- and Windows-based systems), completed a brief three-step setup, and the My Passport Elite began an initial backup; the drive took about one hour to duplicate all of the content (37GB) on our MacBook. We also liked that we could select where to place recovered files: desktop, folder, or original location. One of the coolest features of the My Passport Elite is its ability to automatically back up photos to Shutterfly. Subjecting relatives to endless vacation shots has never been easier.

Sweet Windows-Only Features

Windows 2000, XP, and Vista users are treated to several Windows-exclusive features such as WD Sync, MioNet remote access, and a number of Google tools. With WD Sync, we were able to synchronize Microsoft Outlook Express, Microsoft Office, media files, browser favorites (Firefox and Internet Explorer), and even desktop wallpapers when we plugged the drive into another PC. MioNet let us plug the drive into a notebook and use the software to access the content of another PC also running the MioNet software remotely. With Google Desktop, we were able to scour our local desktop for files. In addition, the Passport Elite features 128-bit AES encryption.

Uneven Performance

The Passport Elite's performance was mixed. We were able to transfer 2GB of photos, music, and documents to the drive in 3 minutes and 1 second, at a rate of 11.3 MBps. That's significantly slower than theIomega eGo Portable Hard Drive's19.3 MBps. However, when we ran an HD Tach test (software that measures read speeds), the Passport Elite read speed of 55.6 MBps, which trumped the Iomega drive by a whopping 24.1 MBps.

Verdict

All in all, the Western Digital My Passport Elite (which the company backs with a five-year limited warranty) is a solid portable hard drive for road warriors who frequently tote sensitive data, as well as consumers who like their gear to sport a dash of style. The write speed may be a little too slow for those who wish to transfer or backup large quantities of data at once, but the more advanced Windows features make this device a compelling travel companion.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Capacity 250GB, 320GB
Rotational Speed 5,400 rpm
Read/Write Speed 55.6 MBps/11.3 MBps
Ports USB
Size 5.0 x 3.1 x 0.6 inches
Weight 6.4 ounces
Company Website http://www.westerndigital.com