WD My Passport Essential SE 1 TB USB 3.0 Review

1. Introduction

If you want to carry a lot of files around, there are many ways to do it nowadays, with storage units as large in capacity (and small in physical size) as modern USB drives have become. There are various solutions for all budget and needs. Several days ago, we reviewed the Patriot Exporter Magnum 128GB USB flash drive, one of the largest USB flash drives on the market. Really fast, but since it currently sells  for over $200, it might not be for everyone. However, pocket 2.5 inches notebook hard-drives embedded in an USB enclosure  might be a better sollution for most, especially since you can now carry 1 TB of storage in your pocket for around $100.

One of these 1 TB pocket drives is Western Digital’s WD MyPassport Essential SE 1TB drive model WDBACX0010BBK-NESN, and also one of the first to feature an USB 3.0 port. Let’s proceed and see how it performs.

2. WD MyPassport Essential SE 1 TB Unpacking

The WD MyPassport Essential SE 1 TB USB hard-drive ships in a tiny and attractive light green box (which you’ll discard – so why am I talking about it?) which contains the hard drive itself, an USB 3.0 cable, a small brochure and the warranty card.

3. Tech Specs

WD MyPassport Essential SE 1TB features of course 1TB storage. The formatted capacity is 931 GB and around 566 MB is occupied by the manual and WD Smartware backup software. By default, the drive comes formatted for NTFS and it installs without requiring any additional software in Windows 7. The drive is also MAC compatible but you’ll need to reformat it. The WD Smartware backup software located on the hard-drive is both PC (both Windows 32 and 64 bit) and MAC compatible.

The USB 3.0 cable consists in two side-by side connectors, one for USB 2.0 and the extension for USB 3.0 transfers. The drive is back compatible with USB 2.0 as well.

4. Setup

To install the drive, simply plug-it in the USB port. In a few seconds, Windows 7 will find and download the required drivers and you are good to go. As mentioned before, the drive is pre-formatted as NTFS so it you want to use it on MAC, you’ll have to re-format it.

If you absolutely want the best in performance stability, WD regularly launches firmware updates so I was sure to upgrade my unit to v1.014, the newest firmware for now.

5. Performance

I used USBDeview by Nirsoft, a small and very handy free utility that lists a plethora of information about your USB devices, and also has the capability to perform read / write tests for USB devices. The WD MyPassport Essential SE 1 TB writing speed is measured at 15.93 MB/sec while the reading speed is an impressive 32.23 MB/Sec. Using the drive with USB 3.0 / USB 2.0 adapters made no significant difference in speed though, since, obviously the limiting factor is mechanical in nature. USB 3.0 will perform better when reading the information from the harddrive cache, but it won’t show an improvement for large files.

In real world tests, the drive displayed a 27.7 MB writing speed (as reported by Windows 7) when copying a 240MB file while the same file accessed for reading transferred with average speeds over 35 MB/sec. For smaller and fragmented files, the performance will certainly drop.

6. WD Smartware Software

For your basic backup needs, Western Digital includes a free version of their backup software WD Smartware suite. The application is very easy to use and, best of all, it works and it is free. it won’t support more advanced features like scheduling though, but it will fit the needs of most users.

7. Conclusion

WD MyPassport Essential SE 1 TB model WDBACX0010BBK-NESN is a cheap solution to back-up / transport a large amount of data. It has a stylish piano-black case, good performance and 2 years warranty. the drive is also among the first units to feature an USB 3.0 interface, although since the transfer speed is mostly limited by mechanical factors, its usefulness is limited to accelerate transfer of files present in the drive’s cache.

7.1 Pros

  • attractive
  • fast
  • cheap
  • USB 3.0

7.2 Cons

  • 1 TB 2.5 drives are still fairly thick at 12.5mm while smaller capacities are 9.5mm thick. Still easily pocketable though

8. WD MyPassport Essential SE 1 TB Gallery

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