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Western Digital My Passport Essential USB 3.0 review: Western Digital My Passport Essential USB 3.0

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Western Digital's My Passport Essential is a pretty standard external USB 3.0 drive, which comes with a substandard two-year warranty. Compare this to Seagate's three-year warranty, and the maxim that all hard drives fail equally, then the Essential has quite a hill to climb at the start.

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7.5

Western Digital My Passport Essential USB 3.0

The Good

It comes with USB 3.0. Multiple colours.

The Bad

USB 3.0 performance isn't great.

The Bottom Line

Usually external hard drives are much of a muchness, but if you want USB 3.0 speed and a better warranty, then in this case we'd go with Seagate instead.

Western Digital has bundled the drive with SmartWare, its backup software that can sync files across hard drives to make things easier, and categorises them into sections like movies, pictures, documents and music. You can also set a password on your drive for security, which should work on both Windows and OS X.

We had two drives to test — a 500GB, which sells for around AU$79, and a 1TB drive that goes for around AU$119.

Sequential data (MBps)

  • Sequential read
  • Sequential write
  • 9393
    Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra Portable USB 3.0 (1.5TB)
  • 8582
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (1.0TB)
  • 6867
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (500GB)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

512K random data (MBps)

  • 512K random read
  • 512K random write
  • 2945
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (500GB)
  • 3350
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (1TB)
  • 4021
    Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra Portable USB 3.0 (1.5TB)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

4K random data (MBps)

  • ">4K random read
  • 4K random write
  • 0.460.95
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (500GB)
  • 0.490.99
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (1TB)
  • 0.550.28
    Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra Portable USB 3.0 (1.5TB)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

4K random data, queue depth 32 (MBps)

  • 4K random read
  • 4K random write
  • 0.531.06
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (500GB)
  • 0.500.99
    Western Digital My Passport Essential (1TB)
  • 0.540.28
    Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra Portable USB 3.0 (1.5TB)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


It's clear that assuming the same rotational speed, the bigger your capacity, the better sequential speeds the drive is capable of attaining. What's more interesting is that Western Digital appears to have done something magical with random writes, somehow bucking years of trends of reads being the dominant force.

Ultimately, external drives are much of a muchness, as we tend to treat them as devices that fail equally — with that in mind, Seagate's three-year warranty over Western Digital's two makes more sense to us. If you can think of an application where random write speeds are more important to you, though, and can't afford an SSD, perhaps the Essential line will pique your interest.