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Review: Western Digital My Passport for Mac 500GB

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At a Glance
  • Western Digital My Passport for Mac 500GB

Western Digital’s My Passport For Mac is a solid, compact, comparatively speedy little USB-only portable hard drive that also happens to be Time Machine–ready and designed for the Mac. With a 500GB capacity, a three-year warranty, and a shock-resistant shell that can withstand your average wear and tear, the My Passport is one of the best portable drives we’ve seen for the Mac.

The My Passport is a simple, light drive. I put it through our series of handling tests, which include tossing the drive around my cubicle and dropping it to the ground several times to see how it handles the punishment. But for all the abuse, the drive didn’t slow down a bit and showed little wear.

The drive gets a bit hot as the fanless aluminum case works to draw heat away from the drive mechanism, but the upside is that the drive ran quietly throughout our tests.

Western Digital My Passport

Like many USB-only drives, on older laptops the My Passport may not be able to draw sufficient power to operate from the bus alone, and so an auxiliary cable may be necessary—it’ll cost an extra $10 from Western Digital.

In our performance tests, the My Passport had surprisingly fast times for an USB-only drive. The 1GB copy test took 50 seconds, which is about 2 seconds faster than most competing drives. The duplication test finished in 1 minute and 14 seconds, putting it on par with our top USB performer, Buffalo’s MiniStation ( ). The low-memory Photoshop test took only 1 minute and 35 seconds, again placing the My Passport among the fastest USB-only drives we’ve tested.

While the My Passport can’t compete with the higher 1TB or 2TB capacities of desktop drives, the 500GB capacity is on the bigger side for a portable drive. Unless you require high-end capacities for professional video and audio recordings, the My Passport should have plenty of space to meet your consumer needs. At $150, the 500GB My Passport has an impressive price per gigabyte of $0.30.

Timed trials

Copy 1GB file 0:50
Duplicate 1GB file 1:14
Low-memory Photoshop 1:35

Scale = minutes:seconds

How we tested. We ran all tests with drives connected to a Mac Pro Quad 2.66GHz Xeon with Mac OS X 10.5 installed and 1GB of RAM. We tested the drive with each available port. We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac\'s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive\'s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS3 Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop\'s memory set to 25 percent—Macworld Lab Testing by Chris Holt


Price per gigabyte $0.30
Connectors USB 2.0 (1)
Rotational speed 5,400 rpm
Other capacities 320GB

Macworld’s buying advice

The market is pretty saturated with USB-only drives from a variety of manufacturers. Price per gigabyte and speed have become paramount concerns, and the only technical way to compare the contenders. The My Passport for Mac stacks up well against competing drives, producing some of the best times we’ve seen in a USB-only drive. It has comparatively strong pricing (though it’s by no means the cheapest on the market), and it has a solid warranty behind it. Some may trust other drive mechanisms over Western Digital’s, while others may simply prefer a more stylish drive choice; but for my money, this is the premier USB-only portable drive on the market right now.

[Chris Holt is an assistant editor for Macworld.]

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Inexpensive
    • Compact
    • Bus powered


    • USB-only
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