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Get a 500GB portable hard drive for $50

Western Digital's supercute, supercompact drive comes with automated backup software that works while you do. And did I mention it's supercute?

Notable for its compact design and adorable robot mascot, the WD My Passport Essential offers half a terabyte of storage for 50 bucks.
Notable for its compact design and adorable robot mascot, the WD My Passport Essential offers half a terabyte of storage for 50 bucks.

As regular readers know, I'm always on the lookout for supercheap hard drives. But most of the time I focus on desktop drives (mostly external, occasionally internal), because that's typically where you get the best bang for the buck.

However, there's much to be said for portable hard drives, which are compact enough to slip into a pocket (admittedly, a roomy pocket) and don't require external power supplies. You pay a premium for the smaller size, but for on-the-go users, it's worth it.

Amazon has the Western Digital My Passport Essential 500GB portable hard drive for $49.99 shipped. That's about the lowest price I've seen on a portable drive with this much storage.

Update: Sold out! But check the reader comments below for links to some equally good hard-drive deals.

The My Passport measures just 4.3 inches by 3.2 inches by 0.6 inch and weighs a scant 0.7 ounce. It's powered by your USB port, so you don't have to worry about bulky AC adapters. It's also cute, with spiffy "robot edition" graphics painted on the top.

Western Digital's bundled SmartWare utility provides automatic, continuous backup for those who want it. It also offers password protection and 256-bit hardware-based encryption.

My one complaint is with the USB cable: it's not the "stowaway" variety like on some other portable drives I've seen. It's a separate, standalone cable, meaning it's one more thing to bring along, one more thing to worry about misplacing.

But that's a minor gripe. Ultimately, this is a great deal on a cute, compact, capacious portable drive. I'm not sure how long Amazon will be offering this price, so if you want one, don't wait.

Bonus deal: Like games? Check out the Humble Indie Bundle No. 2. It comes with five of them, including such popular indie hits as Braid and Machinarium. The price? Whatever you want to pay. Even better, you can contribute some or all of your payment to charity. I love these kinds of bundles--which is why I've got something special queued up for Monday. Stay tuned!