Top positive review
1,917 people found this helpful
Not so Ultra.
on November 14, 2013
Update 2/23/14 - Okay fellow Amazon shoppers. I'm caving in to some of the comments that have been posted on my review and upping my star rating to four stars. Reason being that the price of this storage drive keeps fluctuating so much that it's often a better deal than other, lesser drives out there. I've also edited my review a bit to accommodate that. The drive itself has been working like a champ for me so far and I've got no complaints there. However, I'm still holding off one star due to most of the reasons I stated in my original review. The WD Smartware included software is still garbage despite recent updates/patches, and I stick to my story that the packaging is misleading to the non-technical.
I had been using a Seagate FreeAgent Go 640GB portable drive for about three years now, and wanted something with some more space and higher transfer speeds. I purchased this drive for it's beefy 2 TB of storage space and speedier USB 3.0 interface.
Out of the box, you get the drive, a 15" USB 3.0 cable, soft pouch, quick install guide, and a 3-year limited warranty. The drive looks nice, and appears to be of good construction. Doesn't look or feel cheaply made. I like how compact it is. It's about an inch shorter in length than my FreeAgent Go, and maybe a millimeter or two thicker. The included soft pouch is a nice addition and helps keep dust and dirt off of it. Not an ideal case solution if you're prone to dropping things or somewhat rough with your belongings, so you might want to invest in a more rugged case. It works fine for me though as I keep mine in a messenger bag when on the go, and it's a nice addition considering most other drives don't come with anything. The included USB cable is long enough to plug into the USB port on the front of my PC and reach my desk's surface. So, thumbs up there.
Functionally, the My Passport Ultra 2TB works as advertised. Transfer rates are roughly 3x faster than that of a USB 2.0 drive. I noticed the difference in speed right away when transferring large files (1-5GB+), taking only 2-3 minutes instead of 5-10 minutes or longer depending on file size. I work with large media files all day long, so the bump up in transfer speeds is really nice. The drive is very quiet while running. You wouldn't even know that it's on except for a tiny little LED indicator light to the right of the USB connector port.
So, why only four stars? Hardware-wise, The Passport Ultra is no different from WD's regular Passport series of portable drives. They're the same exact drives, only slightly different in appearance. What the regular Passports lack from the Ultra is the soft pouch, the Ultra label, and WD's misleading labeling on the box that touts, "Auto & Cloud Backup Plus Security." The "Auto" backup is merely referring to WD's abysmal backup software included on the drive, WD SmartWare (more on that later). The "Cloud" backup is basically instructions on the box for setting up a DropBox account. No kidding! They're advertising cloud storage on the front of their packaging like it's a feature they're offering. Flip the box over and you'll see that it's nothing more than an advertising gimmick for DropBox with instructions on how to set up an account.
As for the included backup software, WD Smartware, they should consider renaming this to Dumbware or Stupidware, because it simply doesn't work. The software is supposed to keep your designated files and folders on your PC synced to your Passport, meaning, when a file is updated or a new file is added, Smartware is supposed to see those changes and update the files on your Passport the next time you sync. Unfortunately, the current version of Smartware has a bug where it doesn't notice any updated or newly added files and doesn't copy them to your drive when you sync, rendering the whole thing useless. People have been complaining about this on WD's support forum for a while now, and WD has yet to acknowledge it's customers about the issue on the forums or address the issue with an update or fix. This is highly unacceptable!
EDIT 2/23/14: Despite a new update for WD Smartware (v2.2.1, updated 11/25/13) which was supposed to, "fix an issue where files are not backing up properly in some instances," it still does not function properly. After running the update, the software often hangs for too long or freezes up altogether. So, I've given up on WD Smartware. I wish I could use Seagate's Manager software with this drive, as I never had a problem with that software.
In summary, the WD My Passport Ultra 2TB Portable External Drive is a really great drive. It's small, fast, quiet, and works as advertised. However, the drive retails for $30 more than the regular Passport model of the same storage capacity. All you're really getting for that extra $30 is a silly, soft pouch, Ultra labeling on the drive, and the feeling that you've been made a sucker for believing this product was anything more than it appeared to be. So save yourself a few dollars and get the regular Passport 2TB and put that $30 towards a better protective case.
EDIT 2/23/14: Depending on when you purchase the drive, the price may be cheaper than other, lesser drives. In this situation my comment about the more expensive price would be irrelevant. If you find this drive on the cheap, by all means make the purchase. It is a great drive, especially at a bargain price!
- Lots of storage in small, compact form factor.
- USB 3.0 transfer speeds. Great for large media files!
- Included pouch keeps away dirt and dust.
- Included USB cable is long enough for some play.
- Misleading labeling.
- Same drive as the regular Passport, except for pouch and Ultra markings.
- WD Smartware automatic backup software is garbage. Doesn't work as advertised! Use an alternate 3rd-party backup