A USB 2.0-only 500GB external hard drive, the Western Digital My Passport Essential is both small and capacious, with one of the most affordable cost-per-gigabyte ratios currently available. It's not without its issues, however.
We found the microUSB port - these connections are often found on smartphones but rarely on USB drives - to be a less reliable connection than the mini-USB setups seen elsewhere. If there's any danger of the Western Digital My Passport Essential drive being knocked while a backup or transfer is in progress, the procedure may fail. Not a good thing in a device intended to provide peace of mind.
More pleasingly, the Western Digital My Passport Essential's bundled SmartWare software is among the best we've seen. It's highly user-friendly and offers full-drive security.
The WD My Passport Essential also offers a fast data-transfer rate for a USB-only drive. In fact, the only other drive we've seen match the My Passport Essential's USB-only transfer rate is its WD My Passport Elite stablemate.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>