Portable backup for your memory cards: Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless Pro WiFi hard drive

by Dave Etchells

posted Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 8:11 AM EST


Western Digital has announced a new, upgraded version of their My Passport Wireless portable hard drive this morning, sporting a number of upgrades, significant new features, and significantly improved speed.

Photographers' main interest in the device will likely be in its built-in SD card slot and ability to securely back up cards to its capacious hard drive (either 2 or 3TB), verifying the copied files against those on the card to insure that the copies are good.

The device also serves as a conventional hard drive, a media server, internet router, and even a power bank for recharging your cell phone from its 6400 mAh rechargeable battery. It'll also automatically back up photos and videos from your phone's camera roll, and download files from GoPro cameras via its secondary USB port.

Here's a quick rundown of its features:

  • Built-in SDXC-compatible SD card slot (Fast, up to 75 MB/sec)
  • USB-3 connection for computer connection and charging
  • USB-2 port (Type A) Connect external reader for other card types (up to 25 MB/sec transfers)
  • Download files from USB-connected devices (GoPro, iPhone, etc)
  • Charge external devices
  • WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac 2.4 and 5 GHz
  • Supports up to 8 simultaneous devices
  • Super-safe backup; verifies that copied data exactly matches the original
  • 6400 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery
  • Supports SMB (Windows), AFP (Mac), UPnP and FTP file-access protocols
  • DLNA/UPnP compatible media streaming
  • Included (free download) Plex media server software Act as server for ubiquitous Plex players
  • (Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, many TVs)
  • Cloud connection & accessibility via WD My Cloud service Integrates with Adobe Creative Cloud for cross-platform photo editing
  • Free apps for iOS and Android (Direct read-integration with Camera Roll, but it can't write back to it)
  • Available in 2TB ($199) and 3TB ($229) versions
  • 5 x 5 x 0.94 inches, 15.7oz (126 x 126 x 24mm, (446g)

The My Passport Wireless Pro seems like a pretty universal backup device, able to copy SD cards through its internal reader at more than 50 megabytes per second (our results; we didn't get the 75 MB/s claimed in the specs, but 50+ MB/s is still pretty quick). New on this model is a secondary USB 2.0 port that will let you back up any memory card that you have a USB reader for. USB 2.0 means speeds for external devices will be limited to a maximum of just under 30 MB/s (we actually measured a bit better than spec for the external connection), but that's still quite a bit faster than the earlier version could manage through its internal reader. The USB port also supports connection and automatic downloads to iOS and Android devices and GoPro cameras.

Backing things up is just one of the My Passport Wireless Pro's talents; it can also stream videos to DLNA/UPnP-compatible TVs (most of them these days), charge external devices from its 6400 mAh battery, and connect to cloud services including Dropbox and Adobe's Creative Cloud. This last will let you offload your images to the My Passport Wirless Pro, open and do prelimiary edits on them from your tablet or phone, and then collaborate with others, or do more involved edits when you get back home, all seamlessly, across multiple devices or computers. The internal battery will power the unit for anywhere from 6 to 11+ hours, depending on how hard you work it. (Video playback uses the most power, particularly when streaming 4K video.)

As you might expect, the My Passport Wireless Pro works just fine as a conventional USB3 portable hard drive as well. We were impressed with read/write speeds in the range of 100 MB/second; quite fast indeed!

The My Passport Wireless Pro is available now from Amazon and selected other retailers. It costs $229.99 for a 2TB capacity version and $249.99 for one with 3TB of capacity. (We can't imagine they're going to sell many of the 2TB models; who wouldn't pay an extra $20 for another terabyte of space?)

Stay tuned; we'll be posting a mini-review of the unit shortly. If you'd like to leave your computer back home on your next trip, but don't want to trust your photos and videos to your memory cards alone, the My Passport Wireless Pro could be just what you're looking for!

(What do you think? We're interested in what our readers think of this - Does something like this fit your shooting and work style? How important is the ability to show your photos and videos on your TV? Let us know your thoughts!)