Western Digital My Passport Essential SE USB 3.0 external hard drive

Western Digital My Passport Essential SE review: This 1TB portable hard drive offers USB 3.0 support

Western Digital My Passport Essential SE
  • Western Digital My Passport Essential SE
  • Western Digital My Passport Essential SE
  • Western Digital My Passport Essential SE
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Fast USB 3.0 read/write speeds, compact design, 256-bit hardware encryption, affordable price

Cons

  • No mini-USB connection

Bottom Line

The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE is a fast and compact high-capacity hard drive that ticks all the right boxes. If your PC is USB 3.0-ready, you will not be disappointed.

Would you buy this?

The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE is a portable 1TB external hard drive with USB 3.0 support. It comes bundled with WD’s SmartWare management software and 256-bit AES hardware encryption. Compact and impressively fast, the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE is an ideal mass storage device for media fans on the go. That said, you will need access to a USB 3.0–capable computer to make the most of this hard drive.

The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE is surprisingly compact for a 1TB hard drive. With dimensions of 83x110x18mm, it will easily fit inside your purse or jacket pocket. The version we tested was finished in glossy black plastic. While prone to fingerprints, it remains a sleek, attractive hard drive.

The WD My Passport Essential SE utilises four 250GB platters spinning at 5400rpm. The device is powered through USB, so there’s no need to carry around a separate power supply. (This is especially handy for overseas travellers, as you won’t need to invest in yet another international power adaptor.)

The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE has a USB 3.0 connection for fast file transfers; you will need a USB 3.0–compatible motherboard to make use of this feature. Unfortunately, this means you can’t use a mini-USB cable with the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE — if you lose or misplace the included cord, you’ll need to go out and purchase another one. Consequently, if your computer lacks USB 3.0 support, we’d recommend going for another hard drive.

The bundled WD SmartWare software categorises data on both your PC and the hard drive based on file extensions. You can then choose which types of files to back up. (The software supports sequential backups for up to 25 versions of the same file.) Although it’s straightforward and easy to use, the interface isn’t as impressive as Hitachi’s LifeStudio (as found on hard drives such as the Hitachi LifeStudio Desk Plus). Eschewing fancy 3D and interactive media walls, it instead gets the job done with minimal fuss.

To test the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE's USB 2.0 transfer speeds, we copied files back and forth between the drive and our testbed equipped with a Intel Core i7 965, 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor drive and 6GB of DDR3 RAM. We also copied the folders from one location on the LifeStudio Desk Plus to another, to test its speed when simultaneously reading and writing files.

The first test consisted of 3GB worth of 1MB files, which simulates installing applications and backing up system files. In the second test, we used a 20GB folder of 3-4GB files, including high-definition movies. Let’s take a look at how it compared to other external hard drives on the market:

Small File (3GB) Transfer Test Results
Model Price Storage Capacity Interface Read
speed (MBps)
Write
speed (MBps)
Read/write
speed (MBps)
Western Digital My Passport Essential SE $250.00 1TB USB 2.0 18.4 12.9 10.6
Hitachi XL Desktop Drive $250.00 2TB USB 2.0 19.1 8.2 5.8
Western Digital My Book Elite $399.99 2TB USB 2.0 24.6 15.2 10.2
LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive $199 1TB USB 2.0 28.8 17.1 10.5
Hitachi LifeStudio Desk Plus $250.00 2TB USB 2.0 14 8.7 8.1

Large File (20GB) Transfer Test Results
Model Price Storage Capacity Interface Read
speed (MBps)
Write
speed (MBps)
Read/write
speed (MBps)
Western Digital My Passport Essential SE $250.00 1TB USB 2.0 26.9 23.7 12.7
Hitachi XL Desktop Drive $250.00 2TB USB 2.0 29.7 22.6 12.6
Western Digital My Book Elite $399.99 2TB USB 2.0 27.7 24.1 11.3
LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive $199 1TB USB 2.0 30.3 25.7 12.7
Hitachi LifeStudio Desk Plus $250.00 2TB USB 2.0 28.8 18.9 12.7

In our USB 2.0 tests, the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE exhibited average read/write speeds. However, it gave an appropriately speedy USB 3.0 performance, with a write speed of 58MBps in our large file transfer test and 20.8MBps in our small file transfer test. The Western Digital My Passport Essential SE remained relatively cool and quiet throughout operation.

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