Western Digital Passport USB Portable Drive review: Western Digital Passport USB Portable Drive

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MSRP: $250.00

The Good Compact; bus-powered; quick at reading and writing; includes sync and encryption software; comes with a zippered, hard carrying case.

The Bad Sync software works with only Windows XP and 2000; phone support may eventually become expensive.

The Bottom Line Western Digital's Passport Portable External Hard Drive lets you take a lot of data on the road for a low price.

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7.0 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Support 6

The latest version of the Western Digital Passport Portable External Hard Drive lives up to its name: it's about the same size as a passport. We were surprised at its light weight, too, given its solid design, but we expect as much from a portable drive. Setting up the Passport was a no-brainer. The drive comes with a single standard mini USB cable for both data and power, as the drive is bus-powered, a nice touch for portable drive. (Still we prefer the integrated design of the Apricorn Aegis Mini.) All we had to do is plug in the drive to our PC, and we were up and running.

Western Digital preloads some software on the drive, including Google's desktop software, WD Sync synchronization-and-encryption software, and an electronic version of the included quick-start guide. Unfortunately, the sync-and-encrypt software works with only Windows 2000 and XP operating systems, so Mac users will have to find and install their own software. The drive also comes with a zippered, hard case that's just roomy enough for the drive and the cable, convenient for anyone on the go.

  • Drive type: Portable hard drive
  • Capacities: 60GB, 80GB, 100GB, 120GB (5,400rpm)
  • Capacity of test unit: 120GB
  • Cache: 2MB
  • Dimension: 5.68 inches by 3.5 inches by 0.83 in inch (LWH); 0.6 pound
  • Notable design features: None
  • Connection options: USB 2.0
  • OSs supported: Windows 98 SE/Me/2000/XP; Mac OS 9.2.2 or Mac OS X 10.1.5+
  • Software included (on drive): WD Sync synchronization-and-encryption software
  • Any additional features: Zippered, hard carrying case
  • Service/support: One-year warranty; phone support: free for 30 days from first call, $14.95 per incident after 30 days, toll-free, available Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., CT; Web site has knowledge base, downloads, and an e-mail support form.

On CNET Labs' test bench, the Passport didn't disappoint us with its speeds. The Passport took about 20 minutes to write our 10GB test folder to its disks. This is comparable to other portable hard drives, such as the Apricorn Aegis Mini (19.2 minutes). The reading test yielded even better results. The drive needed only 8.7 minutes to copy the 10GB folder back to our test machine. This is about as good as it gets for a USB 2.0 external hard drive.

Overall, the Western Digital Passport is a great little drive to carry with you. It's small enough to fit anywhere in your luggage, yet roomy enough to hold all of your documents plus maybe even all of your music collection. And at $200 for the 120GB unit, it won't break the bank, either.

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