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WD My Passport Slim review: An excellent portable storage device

WD's latest Slim portable drive is also the thinnest, and almost the fastest, in the company's line of My Passport storage. To find out more, check out the full review.

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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5 min read

The My Passport Slim is the next step up from WD's previous My Passport Ultra portable drive, which came out in March. The new external storage device is slightly thinner, and comes in a metal enclosure.

WDMyPassportSlim_(9).jpg
8.2

WD My Passport Slim

The Good

The compact <b>WD My Passport Slim</b> drive offers fast performance, comes in a metal casing, and is comparatively affordable.

The Bad

The drive could stand to be a little slimmer, especially the 2TB version.

The Bottom Line

The speedy My Passport Slim is an excellent mobile backup and storage expansion option. Its rugged, metal-casing design is a great extra, considering its affordable cost.

It also offers all the goodies found in the previous model, inlcuding WD SmartWare Pro data protection software, up to 2TB of storage space, and very good performance. Most importantly, the Slim is more affordable, with a suggested retail price of just $100 for 1TB, the same as that of the 500GB Ultra at launch. The 2TB version of the Slim will cost just $150 when it's available later this year. You can expect the street pricing of the drive to be even lower.

If you already have a USB 3.0 portable drive, there's no need to upgrade, but if you're looking for one, the My Passport Slim will make a great storage device for travelers looking to carry lots of data in a limited space, or perform backups on the go. In all, I recommend it. For more great portable storage device options, check out these alternatives.

Drive type 2.5-inch external USB hard drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 1GB, 2TB
Capacity of test unit 1TB
Dimensions (LWH) 4.33 inches by 3.14 inches by 0.48 inch (1TB) or 0.7 inch (2TB)
Weight 5.6 ounces (1TB)
OSes supported Windows 2000 or later, Mac OS 10.4 or later
Software included WD SmartWare Pro, WD Utility, WD Security

Design and features
Measuring 4.33 inches by 3.14 inches by 0.48 inches, the new 1TB My Passport Slim isn't exactly slim. In fact, it's just .02 inch thinner than the previous model of the same capacity and is about exactly the same size as the Toshiba Connect. And at 0.7 inch thick the 2TB version of the new drive is not slim at all.

Though not as slim as the name suggests, the new My Passport Slim is compact and handsome.
Though not as slim as the name suggests, the new My Passport Slim is compact and handsome. Dong Ngo/CNET

However, the new drive has an aluminum casing, instead of plastic, and feels very sturdy in the hand. The design is two-tone, with shiny white on top and the rest of the body painted in dark blue. It's one of the best-looking in WD's My Passport family of portable storage devices.

Like most USB 3.0 portable drives, the My Passport Slim has a Micro-USB 3.0 port on one side and comes with a short standard USB 3.0 cable. This is the only cable you need; it handles both power and data functions. Designed to work best with USB 3.0, the drive also works with USB 2.0 and in my tests it had no problem drawing power from any USB ports. The drive also comes with a small user-guide booklet and a nice traveling pouch.

Out of the box, the Slim is preformatted for Windows (NTFS) and works immediately when you plug it into a computer. On a Mac you read data from it but can't write to it until you reformat the drive into HFS+ or exFAT. You can do this using the Disk Utility built in to Mac OS X or use the WD Drive Utilities software preloaded on the drive itself.

The WD SmartWare Pro software makes a great backup solution for novice users.
The WD SmartWare Pro software makes a great backup solution for novice users. Dong Ngo/CNET

In addition to WD Drive Utilities (Windows and Mac), the Slim comes with the WD SmartWare backup program (Windows-only), as well as WD Security (Windows and Mac).

Though it doesn't have to be installed for the drive to work, the bundled software package is useful. WD Drive Utilities contains utilities that enable you to check on the drive's status, test its functionality, or reformat it. WD Security lets you secure the drive's content with a password using the drive's 256-bit hardware encryption. This is very strong encryption, so make sure you remember the password, or your data won't be accessible at all.

Backing up data is a very easy and intuitive job with WD SmartWare. You can choose to back up folders and files, or set it to automatically back up important data, which is very useful for those who aren't as computer-savvy. With the Ultra, WD SmartWare now supports backing up to Dropbox's online service (you do need to have a Dropbox account of your own). In all, the backup software works very well. One thing it doesn't do, however, is back up the entire system as an image for system recovery in case the hard drive fails, or when you want to upgrade your computer to a new internal drive.

WD Drive Utilities offers a handful of useful tools for managing your portable drive.
WD Drive Utilities offer a handful of useful tools for managing your portable drive. Dong Ngo/CNET

Performance
I tested the 1TB version of the My Passport Slim and while it wasn't the fastest USB portable drive, it was more than fast enough for most uses. And for now it's the champion when used with USB 2.0.

CNET Labs USB 2.0 external hard drive performance (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read
Write

With USB 3.0, which is recommended, the drive scored a sustained copy speed of 108MBps for both writing and reading, faster than most USB 3.0 drives, and among the top five on the charts. When used with USB 2.0, the drive did much better with 31MBps for writing and 40MBps for reading, topping the charts on both counts.

CNET Labs external hard drive USB 3.0 performance (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read
Write

WD My Passport Ultra
117.87
118.5

IoSafe Solo G3
110.98
109.1

WD My Password Slim
107.89
107.7

Canvio Connect
97.1
97.4

Toshiba Canvio Desk
103.74
88.9

LaCie Minimus
104.9
87.7

LaCie FastKey
115.5
87.1

The drive worked very quietly and remained cool even during heavy loads.

Conclusion
Though not as thin as the name suggests, the My Passport Slim is indeed one of the most compact portable drives on the market. That and its great performance, valuable bundled software, and friendly pricing make it an excellent buy for anyone needing a quick way to carry a lot of data or perform backups on the go.

WDMyPassportSlim_(9).jpg
8.2

WD My Passport Slim

Score Breakdown

Setup 8Features 8Performance 9Support 8
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