WD my passport wireless pro

WD my passport wireless pro review

Best Product Reviews

Last Updated on January 1, 2022 by Daniel

With the release of the WD my Passport Wireless Pro hard drive, Western Digital has entered the wireless hard drive market for the second time. There have been some improvements, but there have also been some mistakes.

WD’s first My Passport Wireless was released two years ago, sporting a recognizable rectangular design, with some added thickness to accommodate an SD-card slot and a battery. This year’s Wireless Pro ($229.99 for WD’s 2TB model, $249.99 for the 3TB model we tested) retains the basic design, but with new features and improved hardware inside-notably, a larger battery and a higher-capacity hard drive.

Note that the My Passport Wireless Pro should not be confused with the entirely different (and non-wireless), two-year-old My Passport Pro ($702.19 at Amazon), which is a RAID model with two drives inside the shell. The new drive is one of a handful of portable hard drives that embrace the idea of a mobile, personal cloud designed for our increasingly mobile world.

Seagate was an early player in this space, but its current Wireless Plus Mobile Storage drive sells for $180 for 2TB. Some of these companies have already exited this hard drive niche, including Buffalo, Corsair, LaCie, and Toshiba.

While other drives focus on smartphones and tablets, WD’s Wireless Pro is also aimed at photographers and videographers who need a place to offload images while on the go. After discovering that about half of its first-generation wireless drive users were using the included SD-card reader to import a “healthy mix” of images and videos, WD changed its strategy. 

The company took that approach and included Adobe Creative Cloud, 802.11ac wireless, and FTP support to connect cameras wirelessly; an updated SD-card slot; and the capability of drawing power from the battery to charge other USB devices like the GoPro (due to its limited battery life).

All of these features contribute to WD aggressively courting photographers and videographers, a unique approach that tries to fill a void for both professional and casual photographers. Unfortunately, the operative word here is trying: If WD were truly committed to providing a useful storage device for photographers, the Wireless Pro’s features and software would be enhanced.

Since we’re more-than-casual photographers, we put the drive through its paces to see how it performs on its mission of streaming wirelessly. The 3TB version we tested carries an MSRP of $249.99. There is also a 2TB version for $229.99, about $50 more expensive than the Seagate 2TB wireless drive. Now let’s take a closer look.

WD my passport wireless pro: Features and Design

WD my passport pro

  • Nice shape
  • Larger storage
  • Portable
  • A bit heavy (due to increased battery)

Almost everything about the Wireless Pro stands out, except its color. It is made of solid matte-black plastic with a glossy stripe inlaid on its front to add a little flair.

The Wireless Pro is shaped in a distinctive five-inch square, much like an old CD Discman. Additionally, it is 0.9 inches tall, meaning that it is thicker than today’s typically slim portable hard drives. Despite its size, it is not bulky.

The weight of the drive is noticeably different. The Wireless Pro is heavier than most of its competitors, and we noticed that right away. Its 1 pound weight isn’t surprising given that Seagate’s Wireless Plus Mobile Storage (2TB) weighs 0.6 pounds. Even with the addition of an SD card slot, the Wireless Pro isn’t as light as one might expect for a hard drive and battery.

The extra weight may be attributable to the increased battery capacity from 3,400mAh on the original Wireless drive to 6,400mAh? We don’t have the specs for Seagate’s battery, but both the Seagate and Wireless Pro boast 10 hours of battery life.

It has two mechanical buttons on the top edge, a USB Type-A 2.0 port, and a USB 3.0 port for direct connection to our laptop or desktop. In addition to its LED battery gauge, the left button (looking at the drive from the front) triggers a WPS connection to your router for easy setup, and it initiates SD-card data transfer. Right of the drive is a button that turns it on and off.

Our first frustration with the drive was the power button: It behaved inconsistently when powered up, and it took forever to shut down, one of the few glitches that came with the firmware. After the drive was announced and made available-with this behavior and all-to consumers, WD released a new firmware (version 1.01.11) that addressed many of the issues we encountered during our first test run.

In the new firmware, the shutdown is accelerated to a count of one-two, with a blinking LED to indicate the drive is working prior to shutting down. It didn’t give any indication that it was spinning down, and it took about 40 seconds to spin down and turn off.

Sometimes, we had to doubt whether we held the button long enough.) Powering up became more consistent, though we had to press it harder than we’d anticipated. However, after the firmware update, the difference was night and day.

There are two additional LEDs on the front face in addition to the battery-gauge LED. Wi-Fi status LEDs are at the top, while drive status LEDs are at the bottom.

The SD-card slot is located at the top-left edge, which supports SD 3.0 this time around. According to WD, you can read and write SD cards as fast as 75MB per second using the Wireless Pro’s SD-card reader. Although those speeds are better than those of My Passport Wireless, they don’t come close to matching the speeds of Ultra High Speed (UHS) and UHS-1 SD cards.

Additionally, the drive now has a USB 2.0 host port. This inclusion may seem odd until you realize its presence-and WD’s design-allows the drive to function as a power bank. This means you can connect a phone or tablet (or a short-term action camera) to the Wireless Pro and siphon power from its battery, although the port only outputs 5 volts at 1.5 amps.

What is the advantage of USB 2.0 for power banks? According to WD, the Realtek 1195 chip inside the drive only supports a limited number of fast USB ports (and two of them were used for the card reader and the USB 3.0 direct-attached port).

Using 802.11ac for 5GHz and 802.11n for 2.4GHz, the Wireless Pro increases the wireless performance to 802.11ac. For our test, we used the 5GHz band. Although we couldn’t gauge how much 802.11ac affected our experience during our use, 802.11ac is a significant improvement.

Among the notable distinctions: As well as serving as a wireless access point, the Wireless Pro can also serve as a wireless drive. We’ll get into that later.

WD my passport wireless pro: Setup

WD my passport wireless pro

  • Easy setup
  • Secured connection

My Passport Wireless Pro’s initial setup was fairly straightforward, though I did need to consult the user manual several times. Before you begin, you’ll need to download the WD My Cloud app from the appropriate app store if you’re using a mobile device. With your computer or mobile device, turn on the drive, connect to the Wi-Fi hotspot it creates using a web browser or the My Cloud app, and follow the setup instructions.

You can connect to the internet during setup. Your computer or mobile device can access the Wi-Fi network of your choice through the My Passport Wireless Pro, which acts as a bridge. The Wi-Fi connection configuration should include the option of asking whether you want to share the device on the network. If you are using a private network, this can be helpful, but if you are using a public network, such as at a hotel or cafe, everyone can see your files.

There are basically three ways to connect to My Passport Wireless Pro once the setup process has been completed. Using a direct Wi-Fi connection between the Passport and your computer or mobile device is the first option. No internet connection is necessary for this feature to work, and you can access the contents of the drive via the My Cloud app or a computer.

In addition, any computer on the network will be able to access the drive if you’ve configured My Passport to connect to a Wi-Fi network (and selected the option to share its contents). It is a mini-NAS in a sense. Lastly, My Passport can always be connected directly to a computer via USB 3.0. A direct connection is best for performance since it acts just like a regular hard drive.

WD my passport wireless pro: Performance

WD my passport wireless pro

  • Increased SD card read speed
  • Increased copy speed
  • Includes a new USB 3.0 port

Western Digital has clearly improved the user experience of the My Passport Wireless by improving the speed. WD says the SD card slot can now read data at 75 MB/sec as opposed to 10 MB/sec on the original model. Using the built-in card reader, I found that backing up a card with 10GB of data took about 5 minutes.

The same data set took around 2 minutes and 30 seconds to copy to my Passport when connected to my laptop via USB 3.0 and using the MacBook’s built-in SD card reader.

The ratio stayed relatively constant over the course of several informal tests. While the Passport’s card reader isn’t a speed demon, it’s fast enough to serve as a portable backup solution that can run on its own while I work on other things.

Additionally, the device has a USB port for backing up files from different media, such as a CFast 2.0 card. Sadly, it’s a USB 2.0 port, so it won’t provide the faster transfer speeds we’re used to with USB 3.0. Using the built-in card reader, on the other hand, it was not that much slower than a USB 3.0 port.

I mentioned above that the 10GB reference data set usually transferred in about 6 minutes and 30 seconds versus 5 minutes for the built-in card reader. However, it seems like another missed opportunity considering that media like CFast 2.0 or XQD cards have the potential to transfer data much more quickly.

According to WD, the My Passport Wireless Pro battery can last as long as 11.5 hours, or up to 8 hours under heavy usage. Typically, I could use my phone for around eight hours on a single charge. A power adapter is included for charging the drive or for keeping it powered continuously.

WD my passport wireless pro: Battery Life

my wireless pro

  • Durable batteries
  • The bigger batteries make the device heavier

WD’s claims about battery life weren’t quite true, at least in our video-streaming tests. We streamed The Lord of the Rings trilogy wirelessly to an Nvidia Shield Android tablet, and the My Passport lasted 6 hours and 19 minutes. The battery will get you across the country, if not long enough for a full day; nor is it close to the 10 hours WD claimed.

Even so, it was better than the first-generation WD drive, which lasted 4 hours, 39 minutes. At 7 hours even, the Corsair Voyager Air 2 came in second, and the LaCie Fuel remains far ahead at almost 17.5 hours. However, that drive is big and has room for a powerful battery.

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Good battery life for a wireless hard drive. Glitchy experiences, even after a WD firmware update.
Available in 2TB or 3TB capacities. Bumpy software implementation.
Integrated SD 3.0 card slot.

Observations

Additionally to our formal wired testing, we ran some informal tests to test other aspects of the transfer. Using 802.11ac, we transferred 16 folders of 90 MP3 files (representing 670MB total data) in 6.5 minutes or about 1.7MB per second. It took 40 minutes to transfer half of a 59GB SD card full of images, and at the hour mark, we had only transferred 46GB. Our iPhone auto-backup did not allow us to pause or cancel the transfer of files.