This is the on-the-go photographer’s dream gadget
I was originally introduced to a wireless drive for photographers back in early 2017. It was a device I found while looking at the tech products at CES that year and I was highly impressed with the concept. That particular product lacked some advanced features but soon after I learned about the My Passport Wireless Pro from Western Digital. I had the opportunity to use it while I was at CES 2018 as my portable backup drive. Sadly, the main problems I had with it was because it was using spinning, mechanical drives. That made the battery drain quicker and it also kept me from backing files up while on the move since the spinning drive needed to remain stable while transferring data. I found its transfer speed to be quite slow and the drive also lacked a CF card slot.
I saw potential in the WD device and looked forward to the day when they would swap the mechanical drive for an SSD. Needless to say, while at CES 2018, Western Digital showed off the new My Passport Wireless SSD, which is a substantial update to the My Passport Wireless Pro. I was simply in love with this device.
The My Passport Wireless SSD is an all-in-one portable drive. It has a built-in SD 3.0 card reader with a convenient one-touch copy button. The battery lasts up to 10 hours and a durable, shock-resistant SSD is housed inside the outer case. With the My Passport Wireless SSD, you can wirelessly stream 4K videos and view photos from connected devices. The drive has the power to import media from USB card readers and it also has a built-in power bank for charging mobile devices, too. One of the most impressive specs of the My Passport Wireless SSD is that it has file preview support of RAW photo files. The drive comes in four different capacities — 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB.
The My Passport Wireless SSD creates a secure 802.11ac WiFi connection so you can wirelessly connect to your drive to access stored files. You can also connect it directly to your computer using USB 3.0 (cable included with the drive). You have the ability to use the My Cloud app to view media and some third party apps — like FiLMiC Pro and LumaFusion — will talk directly to the My Passport drive as if it were an external drive for your mobile device. Each drive ships with a drop-protection bumper, a USB cable, and a USB power adapter. It’s compatible with Windows 10, 8.1 or 7 and Mac OS X El Capitan, Sierra, or High Sierra. Plex-enabled or DLNA/UPnP devices are needed for streaming.
The My Passport Wireless SSD arrived in a standard Western Digital branded box, which uses dark grey and yellow as its main colors. The box had some product information included and the device was well identified. When you open the box’s cover, you will find a quick start guide of sorts that illustrates the main features of the My Passport and how to use them. Inside the box, you will find the drive itself, a quick start card, power adapter, and USB 3.0 cable.
Set-up of the drive is pretty straightforward. It can be done using the mobile app (iOS version in my case) or your desktop computer. Aside from learning how to connect to it wirelessly, the main purposes of the initial set-up are to assign preferences for the drive. You will be asked to approve the license agreement, select whether or not you want contents to automatically copy from an SD card or USB device when they are plugged in, and review the Enhance Your WD Experience screen, which includes automatically updating the WD SSD software. All of these settings can always be managed later from your Dashboard.
There are several ways to connect/manage the content stored on your WD My Passport Wireless SSD device — wirelessly through the mobile app, Mac utility app or as a Shared drive, through the web interface, or through a wired connection directly through a USB 3.0 connection. I tested all of these options along with transferring data through SD card and USB 20 to make sure I ran a thorough testing process for this review. I will break down the experience I had with each feature.
This was probably the most natural connection I could have used. WD provides a USB 3.0 Micro-B 10-pin to Type A cable with the drive. The Micro-B end plugs into the drive while the Type A side plugs into your computer. I have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar so I only have USB-C ports on my machine. Because of this, I used a dock with a USB 3.0 connection. When I plugged in the drive for a wired data transfer, I used one of those ports. When you plug the drive in using a cable, it mounts like any other external drive would. You can see a disk image on your desktop and access the files using a standard Finder window interface.
If you are using a Mac, you will need to use Paragon NTFS for Mac in order to read and write to the drive. WD includes this software on the drive for users to install without any hassle. When I installed it, I was still having some issues with being able to write to the drive. I discovered that after you install the software, you must restart your computer in order for the utility to work properly. After my restart, I could access files quickly and easily.
When you connect to the My Passport drive wirelessly on a Mac, you can view the contents of it one of two ways. First, the drive will show up as a shared device and you can open the files in a Finder window as usual. The other way is to use the WD Utility App, called WD Access. If you already have a WD app like WD Sync installed, both the WD apps will appear in the WD App Manager in the menu bar. From this menu, you can open the direct file window for managing the contents of the drive.
Another option when you connect to a desktop computer via WiFi is to access the drive’s dashboard through the WD web interface. In this area, you can configure the FTP access, security, battery usage optimization, and Plex server, as well as several other settings
The mobile app for iOS is very easy to use. The sign-on process is very similar to how you get online on the Desktop. First, you find the secure WiFi network broadcast from the drive. “My Passport” is in the name of the network. Then, you enter the passkey provided by WD and printed on the identification sticker on the top of the drive. Once you are connected, you can view your files by selecting your storage device and reviewing the material stored there. You can open files to preview them including RAW image files.
Given that there are a lot of different ways to access and store files on this drive, I completed a lot of different speed tests based on the different input options on the device. I used a single MP4 file that is 2.36GB in size. I have included the results below.
BUILT-IN SD CARD READER
- Standard SD card (SanDisk 8GB Class 6 30MB/s): File transferred in 52.11 seconds
- Micro SD card: Did not work with SD card adapter. Tried two different SD card adapters and had transfer failures both times. This could have been caused by the age of the adapters.
USB 2.0 HOST PORT CONNECTED TO CARD READER
- Card Reader (Satechi Aluminum Type-C USB 3.0 and Micro/SD Card Reader)/Micro SD card (Transcend 16GB Class 10): 1 minute, 30 seconds
USB 3.0 CONNECTED TO COMPUTER: 6.6 seconds
For me, the biggest problem I’ve had with the My Passport Wireless SSD was waiting for it to hit store shelves. When I saw it at CES, I wanted to use it immediately. Since I’ve received the drive, I have been using it every chance I get and it’s now a staple in my camera bag. If I take my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV out for a shoot, then the Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD is coming with me.
Even though we live in the digital world and no longer have to wait for film to be developed to know if we got the shot, I still have some uncertainty since I shoot in the RAW format. So for me, one of the biggest benefits of this portable drive is being able to preview the RAW files and know for sure that the images I took were right on the money. Honestly, I have shot two major local events and a family vacation and without the drive, I would have gone home without knowing for sure that the images were captured correctly. Thanks to the preview ability of the WD My Passport Wireless SSD I was able to view my images on my iPad after allowing the drive to copy all my images off the SD cards. I could see that a few of my images were out of focus and because of the My Passport Wireless SSD, I knew in time to reshoot and avoided some mishaps.
With the use of an SSD, the weight of the My Passport Wireless has decreased and it feels wonderful in my hands. I don’t feel bogged down by it in my Think Tank Photo StreetWalker HardDrive V2.0 Backpack. I felt like there was a huge difference between transferring files using the mechanical drive and the SSD — like night and day. Compared to the My Passport Wireless Pro, the My Passport Wireless SSD is outstanding. I do still wish there was a CF card slot, but the super fast SSD makes up for the lack of that feature.
This is a must-have device for all photographers and videographers. I absolutely LOVE mine and can’t ever see myself out taking photos without it. Western Digital makes a lot of fine products and since I’ve had decent success with them in the past, I felt safe that my data would be well cared for while being stored on the My Passport Wireless SSD.