Portable hard drives are no longer just boxes that let you carry large amounts of data on the go. They now aim to be hubs around which your mobile life is centered, offering card ingestion and backup, device charging, wireless access, streaming, and more. Western Digital recently upgraded their My Passport Wireless line with an SSD version. Check out our review!
- Capacity: 250 GB - 2 TB SSD
- USB 3.0
- USB 2.0 host port for card readers and battery charging
- Built-in SD 3.0 card reader
- 6,700 mAh battery with up to 10 hours battery life
- Drop protection bumper
- LED lights for battery, Wi-Fi, and transfer status
- 802.11ac/n wireless (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz)
- Output: 12 W, 2.4 A
- Dimensions: 5.3" x 5.3" x 1.2"
- Weight: 1 lbs
- Warranty: 2 years
- SSD Speed: listed read speed of up to 390 MB/s
- SD reader speed: up to 65 MB/s
Appearance and Setup
The My Passport Wireless SSD is solid, and in between the rubber bumper and SSD internals (lending it greater durability), I have no doubt it can withstand a bump or two (WD rates it to drops of a meter). The drive itself is a light gray color and the dark gray and orange bumper accents it well. All ports and buttons are flush with the exterior, which helps to protect them. The drive also comes with a power adapter and 18-inch USB 3.0 cable.
Setup is exceedingly straightforward and can be done either via the app or at your computer. The drive comes with a sticker that shows its internal network name and the passkey (note: the Wi-Fi is passthrough, so if you connect to it, you can still browse the Internet). I simply connected to the drive's Wi-Fi network on my Mac, headed to the URL on the quick setup card, and landed on the administration dashboard.
Dashboard and App Interface
The web interface is straightforward and gives you a good overview of the drive's capacity and basic stats. Within the dashboard, you can configure Wi-Fi behavior, FTP access, security, battery usage optimization, the Plex server, card import behavior, and more. You can also update firmware or reset the device from this interface, which makes it very easy to configure the drive exactly as you please.
The mobile app has an equally straightforward interface. You can adjust almost all the same settings as the desktop version, and you can also have the drive automatically back up your phone's videos and photos should you so choose. What's particularly cool is the ability to preview raw files and edit them in a mobile raw editor such as Lightroom. So, if you're shooting a wedding and want to fire off a quick shot to social media between the ceremony and reception, you can access the files you've already backed up via the built-in card reader, edit the shot to taste, export, and post without ever touching a computer.
What makes the My Passport Wireless SSD so useful are all the extra features that make it an all-in-one hub for photographers/videographers on the go or simply someone who travels a lot. For example, I could load videos to watch on the drive, then use the VLC app to connect to it and watch anything on my iPhone or iPad. In practice, this worked flawlessly (the device will even stream 4K video) and was a great way to not take up precious space on my phone with bulky videos. If you want to really dig deep into media management, you can also set up a Plex server on the device. In practice, I had no problem doing without this, though; I simply copied whatever I wanted to watch or listen to to the drive and all my devices had no problem seeing the drive and playing media from it.
The device can also charge devices using its host USB port, and in practice, it still has plenty of power to spare. For example, I could charge my iPhone 7 Plus' 2,900 mAh battery from completely dead to fully charged and still have over 5.5 hours of battery life left in the device, which means you can really rely on it to top off devices when you need it and not lose the ability to work. For example, if you're a wedding photographer, you can pop in a card to back up on the way to the reception and top off your phone while in the process.
The drive also comes with security features as well, including a drive lock that prevents USB access in case you ever lose it or it's stolen. It can also act as a Wi-Fi hub for up to eight devices. If the drive is not connected over USB, any USB device you connect to the drive's host port is also shared automatically over its network. If the drive is connected over USB, it acts as a card reader for connected devices and cards (it can also do this with cards over Wi-Fi).
While the non-SSD version of the drive performed quite well, the big news here is of course the new SSD and the blazing speeds it brings along with it, which should make any photographer or videographer quite happy. Below are tests with the Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test app and various file transfers. To note: transferring via SD or a connected card reader is as easy as can be. I have my drive set to automatically ingest new files only as soon as a card or reader is connected, which keeps things running efficiently. The built-in LEDs show the status of the transfer (they can also show battery life).
USB 3.0 Computer Connection
In practice, this matched the speeds I experienced. When I attempted to write over about 3 GB of data in one pass, the drive would slow down by maybe 30 percent, but was still very fast. It makes for very quick work.
5 GHz Wi-Fi and Computer Connection
Built-in SD Card Reader (3.2 GB, 89 Raw Files)
Transfer from card to drive: 0:57 (56 MBps)
USB 2.0 Host Port Connected to Card Reader
Transfer from card to drive: 2:03 (26 MBps)
The hard drive comes with a 12 W (5.1 V at 2.4 A) power adapter, giving a recharge time of just under 3 hours. Western Digital rates battery life at about 10 hours, and in practice, that's about what I got out of it. This means it's easily possible to make it through a day of shooting, creating backups, charging my phone, and more.
What I Liked
- Easy setup
- High level of customization
- Easy, automatic backup
- Lightning fast compared to normal hard drives
- Can function as external battery, card reader, and Wi-Fi hub and create network shares
- Fast and reliable performance
What I Didn't
- Non-SD card backup is about half as fast due to USB 2.0 port
Conclusion and Purchase
The thing I appreciate about the Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD is that all the features are truly useful and not just gimmicks. For any photographer who travels or needs backup in the field (wedding, travel, and sports photographers would particularly appreciate this), the drive performs well enough to keep up and lasts all day. Add in the SSD and it becomes a very high performance drive when you're back in front of your computer. I definitely recommend it; it's one of my most used tools. You can purchase yours here.