Western Digital's My Passport Essential SE is currently the only portable external hard drive to boast a whopping 1TB of storage space. Despite this, it is one of the smallest hard drives around and is quite speedy, too.
For the My Passport Essential SE, Western Digital bypassed the standard SATA II circuitry and built a USB connection directly into the 2.5 inch internal hard drive, making it shorter than other external hard drives. Unfortunately, the company chose to integrate a micro-USB connection instead of the more common mini-USB port found on external hard drives and digital cameras. While the connection is supposed to be more durable, the cable is also harder to replace if lost.
The My Passport Essential SE has four 250GB platters, making the drive slightly fatter than its 320GB and 500GB counterparts. However, it's still extremely portable and light. It incorporates 256-bit AES hardware encryption, but lacks any form of password recovery.
The bundled WD SmartWare software (see screenshot image to the left of this review) automatically launches the first time the My Passport Essential SE is connected, and categorises data on both your PC and the drive based on file extensions. From here, you can choose which types of files to back up. However, the My Passport Essential SE does not allow you to set your own custom extensions. This means obscure media formats, for example, will simply be listed as "other". WD SmartWare supports sequential backups for up to 25 versions of the same file.
When compared to other portable external hard drives, the Western Digital My Passport SE seems a little sluggish when writing small files. However, that is still only a relative term since the speed of all external hard drives that connect to the PC over USB 2.0 are limited by the port itself. Seen in that context, it still offers fast read speeds with both big and small files.
The huge storage capacity, strong security, and ease of use make the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE external hard drive a great choice for those who need to take their work with them. It is available in 4 colors - Black, Blue, Red and Silver.
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