External Storage Roundup: LaCie, Toshiba, and WD

Article Index

Western Digital My Passport Ultra

The Western Digital My Passport Ultra looks identical on the outside to the My Passport Edge we reviewed some months ago. It has the same cool gray finish with silver edging and a black band around the middle, a small footprint, and rounded edges. The newer Ultra model boasts some better specifications, however.

In addition to the USB 3.0 interface, the Ultra offers 1TB of capacity and a 5400 RPM hard drive. The device is compatible with Windows XP through Windows 8 as well as Mac OS X. It’s about as small as the Toshiba Canvio Connect, and it weighs about half an ounce less. There’s a 12-inch cable included with the drive, as well as a soft carrying pouch.


The first time you connect the WD My Passport Ultra, you have to run WD Apps Setup and click through an installation wizard to install the software that ships on the drive. Like the My Passport Edge, this unit has WD Drive Utilities, WD Security, and WD SMartWare.


WD Drive Utilities and WD Security appear to be identical to what we’ve previously seen. Drive Utilities includes diagnostics, a sleep timer, Drive Erase functionality, and registration of the product. The Security tool basically allows you to set a password so that only you can access the drive.


The WD SmartWare backup tool is also nearly identical to the version we saw before (v.1.6.2), although this one (v.2.0) has been updated somewhat. We were actually prompted to update the software to version 2.0 when we initially set up the WD Apps, so the version that ships on the drive is out of date.


SmartWare 2.0 has some minor tweaks and a slightly cleaner UI than the previous version. One difference appears to be the ability to set backup frequency, which you can do under the Backup tab, where you can set continuous backup or opt for a scheduled backup. Under the Setting tab, you can now update the software, and if you like, it appears that you get a free upgrade to WD SmartWare Pro, which lets you “back up to and retrieve from WD Elements, non-WD external devices, and the cloud via Dropbox".

Related content