Western Digital's My Passport for Mac

Review: Western Digital’s My Passport for Mac hard drive

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using the new generation of My Passport for Mac, the line of external HDDs from Western Digital designed especially for users of Apple computers. At first, the obvious question arises: what would be the difference of this model to other “common” – and cheaper – HDDs available in bulk on the market? These and many others will be answered in the following paragraphs.

At first glance, the design of My Passport for Mac is understated, yet beautiful. The way you look clean blends perfectly with Apple’s aesthetic language; the bottom is very similar to the aluminum used in the construction of the most modern Macs, despite being made of plastic. Apart from the make and model inscriptions (on the top cover) and the technical details (hidden on the bottom) – in addition to a usage indicator LED next to the USB 3.0 port -, there are no other obstructive elements in the unit, forming a set approved minimalist.

Western Digital's My Passport for Mac

The 2TB model (which is what I tested) is fatter, about 2cm thick, while the 1TB version is noticeably thinner, measuring just over 1cm. Either way, both versions are compact and easily transportable. The included USB 3.0 cable is approximately 30cm long, which is suitable for any type of Mac sold today – including the Mac Pro – but it can be a source of annoyance if you need to connect your HDD to a tower desktop.

Connecting the HDD to my MacBook Pro, the first impression I got was that it was not a specific product for Macs. The disk was absolutely empty, without any type of utility or installer for that purpose; there was only the empty space, ready to be filled with files, like a giant flash drive. Just for comparison, My Passport Ultra, from the same manufacturer (but without the special dedication to Apple) and which is the external HDD that I use on a daily basis, came with a series of utility programs – for Windows, but you got my point.

As a positive point, I highlight the fact that My Passport for Mac was already formatted in OS X Expanded, the most appropriate partition type for use on Macs. The only problem with this is that if you plan to use the HDD on a Windows machine as well, you will have to reformat it to a type of partition that the Microsoft system recognizes, such as exFAT.

Western Digital's My Passport for Mac

By accessing the Western Digital website, as indicated in the brochure included in the box, I was able to download the appropriate applications. There are two: WD Drive Utilities its main functions are to check the status of the unit, to prevent potential failures; erase all your files and program a hibernation state for the HDD after a specified time. In a brief test, the three functions worked satisfactorily, although the feature of diagnosing problems on the disk seems to me somewhat incomplete: once a problem is detected, there is no option to solve it by the utility; the user remains to hunt for possible solutions on the internet, contact WD or sit and cry.

Western Digital's My Passport for Mac

The other software available, the WD Security, allows you to configure a password to access the contents of the disk and trusted machines, where the password is not required. The data is encrypted on 256-bit AES hardware, an interesting feature that does not affect the performance of the drive, unlike encryption solutions through software – for those concerned with the confidentiality and security of their files, it is a resource essential. The external HDD also worked without problems with Time Machine, the native backup feature of OS X – which is not really a differentiator, since the feature works with any type of external storage.

Speaking of performance, My Passport for Mac didn’t leave anything to be desired, but it didn’t do better than its Windows brother. Part of the blame for this is that we are talking about a 5,400RPM HDD – WD missed the opportunity here to differentiate its product with a higher speed disk. In my tests, both HDDs scored speeds in the range of 110MB / s for both reading and writing, which is an acceptable rate for drives connected via USB 3.0 in 2016. Other, stronger models support much higher transfer speeds, but for a much higher price.

Western Digital's My Passport for Mac

According to WD, the suggested price for the 1TB version is R $ 350, while the 2TB model comes out R $ 550 – in a quick search in online stores, however, what we found were much higher values. At the end of the day, WD’s new line doesn’t go far beyond the commonplace in terms of external HDDs; your “for Mac” subscription adds almost nothing (it just frees you from the software that normally comes with the Windows version) and should not be a major factor when choosing a buyer; on the other hand, it is a well designed equipment, with interesting safety features (download separately), and worthwhile if it is found at a price comparable to its competitors.