Typically, Mac users are forced to reformat their external hard drives before they can use them to back up data on a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Western Digital removes that hurdle with the MyPassport for Mac ($149), a lightweight, pocketable, USB-powered HDD that features HFS+ Journaled formatting, making the device compatible with Apple notebooks out of the box.
Measuring 4.9 x 3.1 x 0.5 inches and weighing just 6.4 ounces, the 500GB Western Digital My Passport for Mac (also available in a 320GB capacity for $129) is thin and light enough to slide into a bag with ease. The unit we tested sports a simple but attractive black and silver design (with the WD logo subtly branded into the lower-right corner) that visually matches the revamped MacBook line. The back of the drive features four rubber feet that help keep it from sliding around on a desk. One of the advantages of this 500GB unit is that you don't need to plug in an additional power supply.
The Western Digital My Passport for Mac proved to be a fairly strong performer. It was able to read our 4.97GB folder of mixed media in 3 minutes and 48 seconds--a rate of 22.3 MBps, slightly slower than the 22.5 MBps pocket hard drive average, but not as fast as the Toshiba Portable External Drive (26.2 MBps). The drive wrote the same folder in a better-than-average 4 minutes and 15 seconds, or 19.9 MBps, also beating the Toshiba (15.8 MBps) and Hammer (12.5 MBps) drives.
Software and Warranty
As the My Passport for Mac is designed for use with Apple notebooks, it doesn't feature any backup software; OS X Leopard's Time Machine utility will automatically backup your photos, music, video, and other data. When we plugged the drive into a Mac via USB, we were prompted to use it for Time Machine backups, and after a few short clicks we were up and running. However, some users may lament the lack of bundled encryption software for locking down folders and files. Western Digital covers the drive with a three-year limited warranty.
Overall, the Western Digital My Passport for Mac is one of the better portable hard drives we've tested. For $149, you get a backup solution that offers style, very good write performance, and simple integration with Apple's Time Machine.