The flat profile and the modest dimensions made the Western Digital My Passport Elite portable hard drive the most discreet of all those we have tested.

Western Digital – or WD as it often styles itself – has a whole line-up of external hard drives, from this small 2.5in notebook hard drive to its My Book 3.5in models to high-capacity network-attached storage (NAS) drives, all of which sport the same flat design rounded-off on one corner.

This flat profile and the modest dimensions made the Western Digital My Passport Elite drive the most discreet of all those we tested. It was also near silent in operation and, in contrast to the LaCie and the plastic-coated Verbatim drive, didn't feel warm to the touch even after being attached to a USB power supply for an hour or two.

This Western Digital My Passport Elite also has one of the most indepth yet straightforward feature sets. Upon first being attached, the Western Digital My Passport Elite quickly installs and lets you choose whether you want documents, documents and media files, or email contacts and messages to be backed up.

Web browser settings can be taken with you from PC to PC (IE and Firefox are default browser options; others can be added). You can even take your own computer wallpaper with you so you get the same look and feel regardless of the machine you're working on.

As well as creating a strong, near impossible to crack password with full 256bit AES encryption, Western Digital encourages you to provide some user information in the form of a name and business address to which the drive should be returned if recovered.

This limited Lost and Found information pops up should someone try to use the drive without entering secure login details, so they know that further attempts to access files stored on it are futile since all data has been copied to the password-protected Sync 4.0 Deposit.

NEXT PAGE: never mind the feature set, how does the WD handle the basics?

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The flat profile and the modest dimensions made the Western Digital My Passport Elite portable hard drive the most discreet of all those we have tested.

All these features would, of course, be wasted if the Western Digital My Passport Elite didn't do its job properly. As you'll surmise from the Best Buy award we've given it, the strong feature set is an adjunct to a solid backup performance.

Our mixed media files transferred faultlessly and we found the Western Digital My Passport Elite's time trial results were easily in the running with the rest of the pack. The one exception was when it came to transferring our 12.3GB mixed media files from a Vista laptop to our test PC. Here it proved rather a slouch, turning in a sluggish average time of 21 mins 10 seconds.

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Western Digital My Passport Elite: Specs

  • 480/12Mbps transfer speed
  • 5,400rpm hard drive
  • 8MB cache
  • 31.7Mbps burst speed
  • encryption: 128bit AES
  • bacukup options: scheduled, full, incremental, file name, type search, restore
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista, Mac OS X
  • WD Sync software
  • 124x177x15mm
  • 181g
  • 480/12Mbps transfer speed
  • 5,400rpm hard drive
  • 8MB cache
  • 31.7Mbps burst speed
  • encryption: 128bit AES
  • bacukup options: scheduled, full, incremental, file name, type search, restore
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista, Mac OS X
  • WD Sync software
  • 124x177x15mm
  • 181g

OUR VERDICT

Leaving aside this one poor result, we are impressed with the Western Digital My Passport Elite. From the moment we installed it to the conclusion of our tests for all the drives, it easily stood out as the best of the crop.

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