Fstoppers Reviews the Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD Portable Hard Drive

Fstoppers Reviews the Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD Portable Hard Drive

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!

Specs

  • 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.

Miscellaneous Features

Watching Fstoppers tutorials on my phone

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).

Performance

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)

Battery Life

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

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10 Comments

Robert Nurse's picture

The drive looks interesting. Adding a CF card interface would have been nice.

Cameron Reynolds's picture

While this is not an editing solution, which would you prefer based on your experience, this WD My Passport Wireless SSD or the Gnarbox? I have the non-SSD version of the My Passport Wireless and have really liked having it. Just wasn't able to see RAW files on the drive through the phone app. It is an older android so a newer phone may fair better, my work around has been shooting RAW & Jpeg on non-wedding shoots and for now that works.

Alex Cooke's picture

I've never used the Gnarbox, so I can't comment, but I love my WD.

Alex Armitage's picture

Out of curiosity, how does it handle automatically ingesting files from an SD card.

For example, if I'm shooting on Card 1, and switch to Card 2 in my camera during a break. I want to backup Card 1 with this device. I insert it and it backs up. What happens if I use Card 1 again that day and put it in to backup. How does the drive/software handle files it already has on it? Is it name/time based?

For me it has done differential backups. I’ve had this thing for about 16 months and I am very happy with it as a backup solution while traveling. Allows me to leave my computer at home. It has more features than the Gnarbox that was getting a ton of promo last year, and it’s cheaper too.

Uwe Neugebauer's picture

I have "version 1" (non ssd version using the same app) and can confirm Steve. It does differential backups which means that every time you plug in your card it only transfers new files stored since the last backup!

Justin Berrington's picture

Can you cast to a chromecast using vlc or would plex be necessary for casting?

Alex Cooke's picture

Not sure about a Chromecast, but VLC works fine on my iPad.

I also have the wireless pro hard drive - and it's working very well. There's one comment i have to make though - and it's nothing i like to write about it. In Europe there's an adapter included to switch between UK, EU - and that connector is a lot weaker than on the old harddrive 12V adapters (i don't understand why they didn't use the same safe approach). In fact i do nearly want to call it dangerous. When the small plastic clips holding the adapter together break (and they broke after the first time i used the adapter - i am gentle to my IT and camera-tools) - so i'm going to have to talk to WD and to the security instances that gave this a safety label (one could very easy get a new haircut - because the 230V contacts are easy to be touched this way).
I do hope to get things fixed by WD - probably one could make it safer by glueing the parts together - but this may break warranty, so i'm waiting for WD's comments before doing this.