WD My Passport Ultra

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I am a long time fan of WD products and the 1TB WD My Passport Ultra is no exception. There is a reason this is rated a #1 Best Seller on Amazon.com. For the money, it’s hard to find another drive to match it.

The Basics

The format of this unit is somewhat different than most portable hard drives in that it is more square. This makes it easier to transport and also takes up less room on my desk. This particular model is what’s being called the “older model” which is only slightly bigger than the newer version and this model has the perforated top and bottom cover rather than the newer smooth surface. While that may be important to some, it is really only a matter of taste and to the extent that this older version may be selling for a few dollars less, you would be well served to take advantage of the bargain pricing. The newer version does now offer a 3TB model while this older version stops at 2TB. If you want/need the higher capacity, look for the newer version. Otherwise the old and new are almost identical. In addition, this unit is USB 3.0 and is backward compatible with USB 2.0. That works well for me as I am using it as my Time Machine drive for an older MacBook Pro which only has USB 2.0. But it’s nice to know this drive is ready for the future when I eventually upgrade my computer which will undoubtedly have USB 3.0.

I am using this drive exclusively as the Time Machine drive for my MacBook Pro so like most drives, it needed to be reformatted to the default Mac HFS+ (Journaled) format which takes only a minute using Disk Utility. Once reformatted, the drive was immediately recognized by Time Machine and the back-up process started.

The drive is super quiet and with the exception of the single white LED indicator that blinks rapidly when the drive is active, you probably won’t even know it is running. Other than un-mounting the drive, there is no way to make the LED stop blinking (slowly) when the drive is at rest. That would be a nice feature but certainly not a reason to pass up the purchase of the drive.

If there is anything to detract from this drive it is the included Mac software. As a general comment, it is tough to think of why you need the software at all and I rarely even bother installing software that comes with external hard drives but since I now have a couple of active WD drives working I thought I would give it a try. It was not a good experience.

The primary function of the software seems to be to test the health (S.M.A.R.T.) of the drive, to register the unit for warranty purposes and to set up a sleep timer. Product registration is easily handled on the WD web site. The drive seems to put itself into sleep mode when sitting idle for a while and Disk Utility in OS X can verify the health of an external drive although not through the S.M.A.R.T. function. That said, I did install it to test it out. Upon opening the software it immediately notified my that an update was available which I completed. That’s when the trouble began. The drive immediately unmounted itself from the desktop and wouldn’t stay mounted for more than 15 – 30 seconds when I plugged it back in to the computer. I ultimately did have to uninstall the software to correct the issue and that put the drive back into proper working order. Fortunately, this did not cause any damage to the drive or loss of data.  My advise is to stick with OS X to manage the drive’s functions and leave the included software to the Windows users.

Also see:  Apple Media Event Highlights

The Bottom Line

This is a great hard drive at a very attractive price and we rate it a great buy.

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