WD My Passport Ultra (Spring 2015) review: A compact, capacious and stylish portable drive

The Good The new and compact My Passport Ultra portable drive offers up to 3TB of storage space, delivers fast performance and comes in many color options. The drive works right out of the box, features hardware encryption and includes helpful backup software.

The Bad The WD Backup software can't backup the entire system as an image and won't backup based on changes in real time. The new drive's performance, though quite fast, was a bit slower than the previous version.

The Bottom Line The WD checks the boxes on everything you'd want in a portable storage drive, and with a stylish multiple color option, it's a easy recommendation.

8.3 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Support 8

The new WD My Passport Ultra is one of the most compact storage device that can give you up to 3TB, but that's not the only thing cool about it.

Available in black, white, berry and blue -- with an option for up to 20 mix-and-match colors via WD Grip Packs -- the drive can fit anybody's style. What's more, the new WD Backup software is one of the easiest to use to date and you will also be able to encrypt the drive to protect data without scarifying performance.

On the downside, the drive has a few minor shortcomings. Its performance, though fast, was a bit slower than its older brother which first came out two years ago, and its backup software also does away with the real-time backup option which takes place as changes are detected.

However, all things considered and at the suggested retail price of $80, $100, $130 and $200 for 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 3TB, respectively, the new My Passport Ultra is still one of the best portable drives on the market. (WD says that the street price will be lower and that pricing and availability for UK and Australia will be announced later.)

If you're looking for a compact storage device that offers a huge amount of storage space to carry data or backup on the go, the new WD My Passport Ultra is an excellent buy. The fact that it comes in a ton of colors and has the option to secure your data in case of loss or theft is an extra bonus.

For more options that might fit your budget better, however, check out this list of top portable drives on the market.

The new My Passport Ultra comes in four color choices. Josh Miller/CNET

Design and setup

Other than the different colors, the new My Passport Ultra looks very similar to the old version. Measuring4.34 by 3.21 by 0.5 inch (11 x 8.15 x 1.27 cm), the drive is compact enough to fit right inside your palm. And at just 5.4 ounces (153 gram), it's quite light and you can easily tuck it away in your jeans' pocket.

The drive's outer housing is made completely of plastic but still it feels sturdy. Similar to most portable drives, the new Ultra has a Micro-USB 3.0 port on one side which is used for both power and data connection. The drive includes a foot-long color-matching standard USB 3.0 cable. While this is all good, I wish it had a Type-C USB port instead. That would allow it to also work with the new MacBook, which doesn't have a regular USB port.

WD My Passport Ultra (spring 2015) specs

Drive type Bus-powered portable hard drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Available capacities 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB
Internal drive speed 5,400rpm
Capacity of review unit 2TB
Dimensions 4.34 x 3.21 x 0.5 inch (11 x 8.15 x 1.27 cm)
Weight 5.4 ounces (153 grams)
Software included WD Backup, WD Security, WD Utilities, WD Quick View
OSes supported Windows XP or later; Mac OS 10.4 or later
Warranty 3-year

Out of the box, the new Ultra is preformatted in the NTFS file system for Windows (NTFS). You can reformat it into other file system to work with other platform, such as Mac. The reformatting takes just a few seconds.

Note that WD also has a new My Passport For Mac that's essentially the same as the new Ultra. The Mac drive is reformatted in HFS+ and doesn't include the backup software. This is because for Mac you can use Time Machine as the backup solution. The Mac drive is also available in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB capacities that share the same pricing as the new Ultra.

The WD Backup software is simple, straightforward yet effective. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

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