If you’re looking for a simple way to backup and stream your media whilst on the go, this WD My Passport Wireless SSD Review is for you.
I’ve owned the 2TB version for a little over a month now, having used it both professionally in my work as a wedding photographer, and for personal use while traveling with my family.
Initially I was worried that the My Passport Wireless SSD was a solution for a problem that didn’t exist, but the more I used it, the more I found that it can actually complement what many of us do already.
Is it the best wifi external hard drive? Maybe… maybe not. Let’s have a look first at what exactly it is.
My Passport Wireless SSD Review | Is it for you?
The My Passport Wireless SSD is a portable solid state drive which can ingest, store and stream media. It is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB variants (check the latest prices here).
It seems like lots of digital products offer media storage and streaming these days, so to make it a bit easier for you to understand the role of the My Passport Wireless SSD , I’ve outlined a few specific usage cases below.
1. On-the-go Backup Solution
If you’re someone who travels, or simply wants the smallest, lightest and fastest in-field backup solution available today, this is the product for you.
What do I mean by ‘in-field?’ Well, as a destination wedding photographer, I’m often in a situation where I need to create a backup of photos from a shoot from my memory cards before I have access to my laptop.
Sometimes I have my laptop with me at the end of a wedding day, but find that trying to start my backup process with it is inconvenient whilst on the move. After all, you can’t ingest photos to a laptop when the lid is closed, meaning it has to remain open for the entire process.
The My Passport Wireless SSD solves this problem quickly and efficiently. All I need to do is insert a memory card from my camera into the side of the My Passport, then throw the unit back into my camera bag – without having to do anything else, the unit creates a fast backup to its internal SDD of the contents of the card.
Previously I owned a ColorSpace portable backup drive which did a similar job, albeit much slower due to its spinning HDD. The solid state drive (SSD) of the My Passport Wireless SSD makes everything much quicker, and is also much less fragile – the rubber jacket helps too.
If you don’t use SD cards, the USB 2.0 port lets you connect a card reader to the unit in order to import whichever memory cards your camera uses.
2. Mobile workflow Solution
The second usage case I found with the My Passport Wireless SSD was as part of a mobile workflow.
If you like to edit and share multiple photos via your smart phone and tablet, the wireless functionality of this product can help.
Previously, I’d have to select photos I wanted to edit/share back of my camera, then transfer them via Bluetooth to my iPad. This was ok, but it didn’t allow the transfer of the RAW files for editing.
This meant that I needed to either create an in-camera JPG from a RAW, or shoot in RAW + JPG to be able to get a picture from my camera to my phone or tablet – a minor annoyance for me.
In addition, without the RAW file to edit on my iPad, I’d not be able to make effective edits to white balance, nor really dig into the file’s data. JPGs are fine for a simple mobile edit, but without the RAW, you’re limiting yourself.
With the My Passport Wireless SSD, I can import the contents of my memory card to the unit, then use the WD My Cloud app on my iPad to wirelessly access whichever RAW file I want.
For video shooters, you can even import/stream any video footage from your card on your mobile device too. If you work as a team, multiple users can access the content of the My Passport wirelessly at the same time too.
This ties in nicely with my final usage case.
3. Mobile Streaming Device
The way that I ended up using the My Passport Wireless SSD the most was as a streaming device – not for content from my memory cards, but for media I’d imported from my laptop.
Since the My Passport contains a high performance SDD, you can connect it directly via USB to your computer to function as a fast external hard drive.
I imported my movie collection (mostly cartoons for my kids!) to the My Passport, then used it while traveling as a Wireless media hub. By creating a 802.11ac WiFi connection, anyone with a password can access the My Passport’s contents.
What this meant was I could keep the My Passport Wireless SSD in the overhead luggage compartment on a plane, whilst our two kids could be sitting on nearby seats watching their favorite shows, and my wife and I could be streaming movies to our respective iPads… all at the same time!
If you’re like me and hate trying to import movies into iTunes, then onto to your iPad, using the My Passport Wireless SSD is a massive breath of fresh air!
You can also use VLC or any other third party media centre on your smart device to access and view the content of the My Passport, meaning no need to waste time converting your movies to whatever stupid format iTunes support!
4. External Battery
Obviously this isn’t going to be a reason for buying the My Passport Wireless SSD, but the ability to use it as an external battery pack (6,700 mAh) does mean one less gadget in your travel bag.
[Going on holiday? Check out the best cameras for travel.]
You can also use the rubber casing to sandwich your phone whilst it’s charging – I’m assuming that’s what it’s there for!?
My Passport Wireless SSD Review | Conclusion
+ Small (135mm x 135mm/5.31″)
+ Light (0.97 lb/0.44 kg)
+ Long battery life (10h)
+ Fast memory card imports (65MB/s)
+ Simple set up
+ Fast streaming
– Expensive for larger capacities
– Unattractive design
– Buttons require long/multiple presses
In its defense, portable solid state drives still remain expensive across the board. When you throw in the ability to ingest and stream media, the cost of the My Passport Wireless SSD is largely justified.
I reviewed the most expensive 2TB unit, but you can save some money by opting for one of the smaller units too (compare the prices here). If you’re consistent at removing ingested memory cards or media you’ve already streamed, there’s no need to purchase the higher capacity versions.
As for the buttons, since powering the device on/off requires the wireless network to boot up/turn off, there’s a delay between you pressing the button and something actually happening. This gets quite annoying, since you don’t know if what you’ve done has actually registered with the unit, and had me impatiently pressing buttons multiple times.
To conclude, it takes a while to know whether the My Passport Wireless SSD is something you actually need, or just a product that’s providing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
I found the device genuinely useful as a mobile backup solution that allows me to check my files wirelessly on my iPad. I also found it a godsend when traveling with kids!
Being able to stream video to multiple devices simultaneously may not be the most sociable way to travel, but if you have unruly kids like we do, it can certainly avoid premature hair loss!
I’d sum up that the My Passport Wireless SSD allows you to leave your laptop at home, whilst providing a safe and efficient backup solution whilst on the go. Being able to stream your media is an additional bonus – you’ll have to decide how relevant it is to you.
Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer based in Australia and the founder of Shotkit.