Fstoppers Reviews the 2017 Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro Hard Drive

Fstoppers Reviews the 2017 Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro Hard Drive

The Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro Hard Drive is one of the best options for photographers looking to back up and access their files on the go. Western Digital updated the line in 2017 with new firmware features and capacities. Check out our review to see how the new version fares!

Specs

  • Capacity: 1-4 TB
  • Cache memory: 256 MB
  • USB 3.0 
  • USB 2.0 host port
  • Built-in SD 3.0 card reader 
  • 6,400 mAh battery with up to 10 hours battery life
  • LED lights for battery, Wi-Fi, and transfer status
  • Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 0.9" 
  • 802.11ac/n wireless
  • Weight: 1 lb / 0.45 kg
  • Warranty: 2 years

New Improvements

  • 4 TB capacity option
  • Improved reliability when importing from SD reader and USB (cameras, flash drives, card readers, etc.), including better compatibility with GoPro HERO4 and HERO5
  • Improved Wi-Fi stability (5 GHz 802.11ac and 2.4 GHz 802.11n)
  • Automatically generate thumbnail previews for use in the app
  • Updated Plex implementation

Appearance and Setup

The drive is hefty (though not unwieldy) and solid. It has a slick, black finish that looks modern and elegant, and the blue LEDs complement the finish well. All ports and buttons are flush with the exterior, which I always appreciate. The drive also comes with an optional zipper case that is well padded and offers additional protection from impacts and liquids. The case also has slots for numerous SD cards. While the drive is solid and I have no doubts it'll survive a few knocks, the ports are uncovered, so it's not a bad idea to have a case. Along with the drive comes a power adapter and an 18-inch USB 3.0 cable.

Setup is just as easy as before. The drive comes with a sticker that indicates you need to connect to its internal Wi-Fi network and enter the listed passkey. It can be set up either via the mobile app or on your computer. I simply connected to the drive's Wi-Fi network on my Mac, typed in the URL on the card, and was taken to the setup page. From there, the drive asked me for my preferred network, and it connected in about ten seconds. Next, the interface prompted me to set up basic options such as auto import and updates, and I was off and running. 

Interface

The web interface provides a helpful overview of the drive's usage and other vitals. The tabs across the top allow you to customize and change just about anything you wish, including security, power saving, automatic import behavior, the Plex server, and more. Particularly helpful is the option to remove files from a memory card after importing them to the drive, allowing you to get back up and shooting without stopping at your computer if you're out in the field and you run out of space. 

The mobile app was equally easy to navigate and access the drive from. It offers most of the settings that the web interface does and also gives you the option to back up photos and videos from your phone automatically, which you should find helpful if you travel a lot and want to keep your phone backed up without paying for extra storage on a service like iCloud. Browsing and viewing files in the app is snappy and performance was generally quite good; I certainly have no complaints on that front. 

Miscellaneous Features

The My Passport Wireless Pro has a lot of thoughtful features that make it a really useful travel companion. In addition to the Plex server, you can use the drive's host USB port to charge USB devices. Considering it can charge my iPhone 7 Plus a little over twice, I frequently back up cards while I'm out and keep my phone topped off after using it as the display for the remote control on my Phantom 4 Pro. 

It also comes with a drive lock that prevents USB access to it in the event it's stolen, which when coupled with the Wi-Fi password provides a level of security. It can also function as a Wi-Fi hub for up to eight devices, which I found worked flawlessly in my tests. Similarly, USB devices connected to the drive's host port automatically become network shares if connected to Wi-Fi. If the drive is connected via USB, it essentially acts as a card reader, which is useful for reducing desk clutter, particularly since it will probably live there when it's not in your bag anyway. The drive also integrates with most popular cloud services, including Adobe Creative Cloud, meaning you can move files from the drive to the cloud easily, as well as open and edit them on the go. 

Performance

USB 3.0 and Computer Connection (200 Raw Files (4.76 GB), Average of 3 Trials)

  • Transfer from computer to drive: 1:24 (56 MBps) 
  • Transfer from drive to computer: 1:04 (74 MBps)

5 GHz Wi-Fi and Computer Connection (50 Raw Files (1.19 GB), Average of 3 Trials)

  • Transfer from computer to drive: 3:05 (6.4 MBps)
  • Transfer from drive to computer: 5:10 (3.8 MBps)

Built-in SD Card Reader (57 Raw Files (1.51 GB), Average of 3 Trials)

  • Transfer from card to drive: 0:28 (58 MBps)

USB 2.0 Host Port Connected to Card Reader (57 Raw Files (1.51 GB), Average of 3 Trials)

  • Transfer from card to drive: 1:08 (22 MBps)

Overall performance was quite acceptable for normal work, and backing up from the built-in reader sped along at a nice enough clip to get my memory cards back in the camera by the time I got to the next location. The only drawback is that the host port is USB 2.0, which limits file transfer speeds when using a card reader. 

Battery Life

The unit comes with a 12 W power adapter (5.1 V at 2.4 A), which translates to a recharging time of about 2 hours and 40 minutes. Battery life was indeed good: I normally got about 9 hours out of the device, which meant I could leave the charger at home and just pop the drive into my bag. More importantly, as mentioned above, I was easily able to make it through a day of shooting, ingesting cards, topping off my phone, and coming home to transfer all the files with ease, and really, the convenience of being able to have a portable workflow without worrying about battery life is what the device is all about, and it delivers. 

What I Liked

  • Straightforward setup
  • Good management software on both mobile and desktop
  • Excellent battery life
  • Charges connected devices
  • Treats connected devices as network shares and acts as a card reader
  • Automatic memory card backup is a breeze
  • Good overall performance

What I Didn't

  • Uncovered ports
  • USB 2.0 host port limits transfer speed of files from non-SD cards

Summary and Purchase

Altogether, the My Passport Wireless Pro is an excellent do-it-all option, particularly for traveling photographers or those who need to back up their files in the field (wedding photographers, I'm looking at you). It comes with a wide range of features, and Western Digital has done an excellent job creating a polished interface that brings them all together. With the expanded capacity options and improved performance, I'm happy to recommend it as a professional option. At $149 for the 1 TB version and $219 for the 4 TB option, it's also reasonably priced for what it offers in my opinion. You can purchase the drive and case at the following links:

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14 Comments

Alex, have they updated the software to enable reading raw files from my cloud software? This is the only thing that dissapointed me.

Yes, it now supports RAW. I recently took one and an iPad to Bali instead of a laptop.

Sorry I should have explained myself a bit. I meant the solftware called mycloud that comes with the drive. It does not allow you to see the raw files as image icons.

So happy!! As of yesterday, Jan 10/18, WD has updated firmware and app, to now read and show preview thumbnails of RAW files. Wish granted.

Jeff Goe's picture

I wish they had a unit that had raid capability or at least a easy way to use two of these units and setup a redundant backup, any chance of that??

Alex Cooke's picture

I think your best bet would be to buy a normal drive and use some sort of management software.

Jeff Goe's picture

Or just go with the LaCie Rugged RAID portable drive and forget the wireless, no device is worth it without redundancy

You can plug another portable drive into the My Passport Wireless Pro, via the USB 2.0 port, and then use the My Cloud app to copy everything over to that secondary drive. This would give you a redundant backup without the need for a PC in the field.

Campbell Sinclair's picture

Wow they used USB 2 ????

USB 3 for charging and transferring from a computer. The USB 2 is to plug in other storage.

My only hope is that they release an SSD version somewhat soon. My worry when I travel with hard drives is the constant banging around of bags with old school spinning drives. I bought one of these, for an overseas trip but ended up returning it because of that thought.

Andy Ruiz's picture

They do not support raw from 5dm4 and m5
I have a ticket open with WD and hope they Support soon. But their support is not that fast. I have the latest FW 1.03.04 installed

This is the message I got back from them back on April 11, 2017.
Yes, unfortunately the WD My Cloud Application does not support Camera Raw Images.

I have passed your feedback to the correct department in order to improve the application. I cannot promise you that a version update will be released soon, but I will make sure to expose your case.

If you have any further questions, please reply to this email and we will be happy to assist you further.

Sincerely,
Yara
Western Digital Service and Support
http://support.wdc.com

As of yesterday, Jan 10/18, WD has updated firmware and app, to now read and show preview thumbnails of RAW files. Wish granted.