Review: WD My Passport Ultra External Hard Drive

Design & Build Quality

The Western Digital My Passport Ultra would be highly recommended for those looking for a portable hard drive. It provides plenty of storage and has blazing fast transfer speeds through USB 3.0 and also includes great security and backup options.

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Digital storage is becoming increasingly popular as technology advances. This is evident with our digital pictures having more megapixels, music files with higher bit rates, etc.. Though many have debated over the benefits of a cloud based storage, many users still find themselves wanting a piece of hardware that is portable and reliable, not to mention be able to handle large chunks of data without it being reliant on the maximum upload speed that is determined by the local ISPs. We recently got our hands on a Western Digital (WD) My Passport Ultra. Let us take a quick look at the specs of the hard drive before going into a more detailed review.


  • Dimensions: 20.96 mm x 110.07 mm x 81.57 mm
  • Weight: 0.50 lbs
  • Capacity: 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB, 3 TB
  • Interface: USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible)
  • Transfer Rate: 5Gb/s (Max) USB 3.0, 480Mb/s USB 2.0
  • OS Compatibility: Windows/Mac
  • Security: 256-bit hardware encryption (WD Security)



Design & Build Quality

WD My Passport Ultra maintains a very safe and conservative design on the outer housing that holds the hard drive itself. Made entirely of glossy plastic on the top face and a matte black surface on the bottom – it feels very well built and almost on the heavier side compared to a number of other external hard drives that we have, which to be honest isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.

The device comes only with a microUSB 3.0 port on the top edge, which is also where the LED light indicator is located. This gives it a clean and neat design overall on the case. The bottom of the device also has 4 rubber feet to keep the hard drive in place while in use.

Also included with the device is a foot long cable that is tangle free thanks to the flat-cable design. This cable will be capable of handling both data and power requirements unlike some external hard drives that will require an additional USB connection to handle power.


Since it comes standard with a USB 3.0 connection, we had the device connected to a desktop running Windows 10 that has both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. The device works great on both ports and we were able to grab some benchmark results using ATTO Disk Benchmark. On the USB 3.0 run we obtained peak transfer rates of close to 117 Mb/sec on both read and write.

While on USB 2.0 transfer rates dropped to 32Mb/s write and 42 Mb/s read.

Plugging the device to the computer also showed that the device has an available capacity of 1.81 TB of usable space that is formatted in the NTFS format.

Overall, we really like how fast the WD My Passport Ultra is when connected to a USB 3.0 port. This is by far the fastest external hard drive we tested that is capable of reaching transfer speeds of just shy of 120 Mb/sec.


The device has a couple of handy features that came with it that differentiates it from the competition. Among the top three features include a utility app, ability to encrypt and protect files and lastly create backups.

The WD Drive Utility app is a very handy app that allows users to check on the devices drive status and determine any performance issues. It also helps with power management on the device with a sleep timer function which will automatically put the device to sleep when not in use on predefined intervals. Lastly, it also enables a quick wipe out of the device just with a click of the button. We find this very handy especially for users who just want a hassle free user experience and don’t want to deal much with maintenance and care of the device.

WD Security as the name mentions allows users to password protect the device and since it is hardware encrypted once enabled, users can be certain that files are in a fairly out of reach with the 256-bit hardware encryption.

The final feature which comes in really handy is the ability to create scheduled backups of users computers. Click on the button and follow the on-screen commands to create a specific interval and files that will be backed up automatically to the device. It even allows users to backup directly to the device or to the cloud via DropBox. Pretty neat and simple to use.

Final Thoughts

The Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a very strong all-rounder in the portable hard drive segment. It provides great storage options, has one of the fastest transfer speeds we have tested and comes with a great software to help increase security and protect data. Not forgetting, it will work with both Mac and Windows operating system which is a plus.

The WD My Passport Ultra can be purchased from Western Digital with prices starting at $54.99 for 500GB of storage.

About Ruey Yih Loh

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