854 of 882 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: WD My Passport Essential SE 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive (Black) (Personal Computers)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)### PHYSICAL ###
One terabyte that fits in your jeans' pocket. I don't want to go all "when we were young we walked 10 miles to school, etc." on you, but my first hard drive was such that I would have needed 50'000 of 'em to match the capacity, occupying a solid cube 9 feet on each side and setting me back 30 million dollars. That's mind- blowing progress indeed, and while the original advances were made by firms like Seagate and IBM, those have mostly sold off/sourced out in the meantime, leaving Western Digital as the Bleeding Edge hard drive brand.
This device looks like a cigarette holder with a glossy finish. The edges are rounded, and the usb connector is the only opening in the case, so for my occasional transport I just carry the drive in my jacket as-is. It would have been super- neat to have a rubber flap over the usb and perhaps a more scratch- resistant matte finish, but there is no issue here, especially since WD offers inexpensive hardshell and neoprene cases.
### USB3 ###
Finally, ten times the speed of USB2! The USB consortium calls it Super Speed, to distinguish it (not) from the Hi-Speed of USB2 and the Full Speed of USB1. It's beyond me why they don't just name it "5Gbit USB", a moniker which would pit it favorably against eSATA, Ethernet, Firewire, etc... but at least there's a hilarious joke in there for Sci-Fi comedy fans (Google "They've gone into plaid" for the reference, first video link).
But not so fast, Dark Helmet. First, just because the interface is ten times speedier doesn't mean the drive is, and second, it's likely that even your 2010 PC needs an adapter in the form of a PCIx card. And if it does, the USB ports will be on the back of the computer, which may be a problem as the cable that comes in this package is only 16" long. If you need more, you'll have to purchase a Micro USB 3.0 cable, the connector on the drive end is different from USB2. Currently, these cables are rare (none on Amazon!) and expensive, so be careful not to misplace the one you got.
### SPEED ###
This external drive works with both USB2 and USB3, so the question is, is it worth the extra cost of the USB3 adapter, and what exactly is the speed gain one can expect? To figure that out, I've run two tests, one a simple hard drive test via HD Tune, and one a filecopy test.
- HD Tune: (see screenshots for details): with USB2, the interface is the limiting factor, with a transfer rate of 33 MB/sec over the entire range. With USB3, you get the pure drive performance and up to 87MB/sec can be achieved in the outer regions and still a decent 45 MB/sec in the inner regions (the outer regions of the spinning disk have higher velocity and more sectors, hence the higher rate).
- File copy: I copied a batch of 7000 files back and forth a couple times and measured read and write performance separately. Averaged over 5 runs, I found that the read performance gain of USB3 was 19% and the write performance gain was 25%. It needs to be noted that in this scenario there was a lot of overhead - the copy program (robocopy), the file seeks, the destination drive, etc.
So what to make of this? The raw read performance as measured by HD Tune is 2 to 3 times faster with usb3 - nice to see that WD's marketing blurb "up to 3 times faster" is actually true! However, this advantage quickly comes down as you use more complex operations such as copying small files. Given the choice again, I probably wouldn't bother with an USB3 PCI card and just wait for my next PC to have it onboard. If you mainly copy large files (such as movies), you may benefit more from USB3 than I do.
### SOFTWARE ###
The drive comes with some software on it (in lieu of an installation CD) which does two things: enable a hardware encryption and do backups. I've fiddled with it for a while but it left me unsatisfied. Under my (admittedly elderly) WinXP the GUI had rendering problems (holes in the windows!), it wasn't half as intuitive as other software, and at least once I activated the encryption but it didn't take. It also installs a virtual CD, what do I need that for!? The good news here is that WD seems to ship this software with all their external drives now, so it stands to reason/hope that they'll improve on it and you'll be able to download an upgrade.
Of course, if you happen to be a Mac or Win7 Ultimate user, you don't need the WD software at all, just use the built- in stuff.
### CONCLUSION ###
This is a fantastic little device: a full terabyte, compact and reasonably future- proof; although you might not want to bother with USB3 for now if you don't already have it. I'm deducting 1 star for the mediocre software, otherwise I'm very happy with this capable small data vault.
Tracked by 17 customers
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 48 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 26, 2010 9:12:06 AM PST
Thanks for the product info--it's people like you who take the time to run these tests, then put them in lamens terms for the novice techies, who really help influence important, expensive buying decisions. I appreciate you taking the time to do so. Since my Asus N series laptop came equipped with a USB 3.0 port, and I do copy mainly large files such as movies, I believe this is the HD I've been waiting for. Thanks for your insights!
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2010 2:30:50 AM PST
Appreciate the comment :) I agree; if you already have USB3 and are mainly dealing with large files, this drive should do nicely.
Posted on Dec 4, 2010 5:50:24 AM PST
John Platt says:
you do realize that most laptops and most desktops now come with usb3 (such as my new dell xps 17). For those folks its a no-brainer to get usb3 for these faster speeds.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2010 2:38:04 AM PST
HI John, I'm glad to hear that Dell is on board, but unfortunately other manufacturers are holding off. For example, all Apple MacBooks are currently USB2.0, and so is my new Shuttle HTPC.
Posted on Jan 3, 2011 6:51:02 AM PST
Kevin White says:
Great review, and loved your second sentence. :o)
Posted on Feb 2, 2011 9:58:49 AM PST
Howard C. Batt says:
You remind me of the days of yore when I walked 8 miles through hip deep snow to my work as a customer engineer on a CDC 6600 and it's associated "extended core storage," hard drive with 36 platters and a hydraulic actuator, 16 tape decks, a card reader, a card punch and a line printer. Yours was a very helpful review - I'm going to buy the little jewel. Even though I know it's really black magic and generates evil genies from time to time.
Posted on Feb 7, 2011 5:55:52 PM PST
Oliver H Perry says:
Great information. I've had several of these drives in smaller capacities. None of them ever gave me a lick of trouble, unlike the WD internal hard drive I have. The good news is WD replaced the defective one pronto. Now a word of caution. I don't think one backup drive is enough anymore. I got a virus that wiped out all the data on my main drive. No problem. Formatted the drive, inserted the CD backup program to restore the drive, and discovered that the virus had apparently infected the BIOS and as soon as I plugged in the USB cable the virus wiped out my backups. So I will be buying this drive to back up my back ups! Then I'm throwing out Windows and moving on to Ubuntu Linux for my operating system.
Posted on Feb 15, 2011 8:27:03 PM PST
Kylee A. Miller says:
I'm looking to buy an external hard drive. I've been looking around and trying to compare. I would use it for music, lots of movies, and word documents for my classes. (I'm in college, what can I say?). I have a Macbook Pro that I bought in 2008. I would like to think that I'm not completely computer illiterate, but when I started reading about USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, I was lost. It may seem like this device is not compatible with my computer or maybe even any Apple products. Any advice?
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 4:15:12 AM PST
Howard C. Batt says:
Here's from the specs (scroll down in the product description of the drive):
Windows® XP, Windows Vista®, Windows 7
Mac OS® X Leopard®, Snow Leopard™ (requires reformatting and will work in USB 2.- mode)
Note: Compatibility may vary depending on user's hardware configuration and operating system.
Apparently it's like WD drives - you will have to reformat to use with one of the operating systems listed. I just got mine and am amazed how such a small device can hold so much data. I'm backing up 365 Gb of photos to it and, after 9 hours it's 77% complete. It makes no noise - none. A small flashing light is the only indication it's alive. I'm using it with an HP laptop running Windows 7 and USB 2.0
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 8:00:09 AM PST
Kylee A. Miller says:
This is great news! seems like I will just need to reformat it when I get it. I'm not sure I know how to do that though. Is it pretty easy? Basic instructions available?