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2020 WD My Passport SSD reviewed: hard to beat

Quick review

2020 WD My Passport SSD
The good
Small
Very light
Very fast
Includes password protection software
Single cable in the box supports Type A and Type C USB
The not-so-good
Ordinary design
Design should be all metal, not half metal/plastic
Short cable

Need fast backup options without the typical fast backup price? The 2020 WD My Passport SSD makes its case pretty clear.

Backing up to external storage is no longer the time intensive exercise it once was, now that SSDs have arrived. This year, the external solid-state drive is faster than ever, boasting speeds making it possible to send roughly a gigabyte of your life’s documents and photos and music and such over to a backup system in almost a second, removing some of the burden that backups often require.

This year, that started with Samsung’s push in the external drive space as early as CES, but now there are other players doing it just as well, and with WD’s latest version of the My Passport SSD, there may be a solid competitor that even comes at a bit of a discounted price.

What is the My Passport SSD?

The latest in WD’s generation of external SSDs, the My Passport SSD for 2020 is essentially a stick of NVMe solid-state memory in a small case, accompanied by a USB Type C cable.

The case is made from plastic and metal, and is a fair bit lighter than your external hard drive might be, barely tipping the scales at 45.7 grams, and offering shock and drop resistance down to 1.98 metres. You probably shouldn’t go out of your way to drop the My Passport SSD, but if you drop it from waist high, it should be fine (operative word being “should”).

There’s a bit of password protection software included on the drive, too, providing 256-bit encryption on Windows and Mac if you’re someone who doesn’t want to risk others taking a sneaky peek at your files.

What does it do?

WD’s latest pint-sized external drive, the 2020 My Passport SSD is a continuation in the WD My Passport SSD range, this time not just updating the case and design like you might expect, but also the memory inside.

As you can probably imagine, the My Passport SSD is an external drive ideal for backing files up, and it’s one that uses fast memory sitting inside of a plastic case and connected to a Type C USB port. It’s not Thunderbolt 3, something we confirmed with WD’s local arm, but it is Type C, and rated for speeds as high as 1050MB per second read and 1000MB per second write.

Those are the official speeds from WD, so take note. You might be quizzed later.

Does the WD’s external SSD do the job?

We’re big fans of the idea of “plug and play”, and while the standard became a proper standard some 25 years ago in 1995 in Windows 95, it’s still something people love without realising why: look ma, no drivers.

Back in the day, you’d typically need to install drivers for something external to make it work on your computer. That has been a burden plug and play has moved on from, and now you can simply plug something in and expect it to work.

And that’s what the WD My Passport SSD does, testing it on both Windows and Mac with a USB Type C cable, and finding that WD’s 2020 external solid-state drive starts up and works without any extra work.

You can move files to and from it — because that’s what external drives are for — and you can even opt to use the WD SSD for a backup drive for your entire system if your operating system permits.

And yes, it’s fast, with the drive delivering almost a gigabyte per second, making it easily one of the fastest external SSDs we’ve played with. However, the 2020 WD My Passport SSD doesn’t quite live up to the expectations WD set for us.

What does it need?

We told you to expect a quiz, because here come those specs again, and those specs set up expectations.

The expectations were around a gigabyte per second. WD has noted that up to 1050MB per second was possible in the 2020 My Passport SSD for read speed, while write speed could clock as high as 1000MB per second. With a gigabyte being 1024MB, you might as well call the 2020 My Passport SSD a gig-per-second external drive, at least based on those specs.

Except in reality, it falls just a touch short.

At most, we were able to clock in 903MB/s in read speed and 926MB/s in write, which certainly isn’t slow, but is a good 100 meg off WD’s suggested speeds.

It’s a small discrepancy on Mac, yes, and the WD My Passport SSD is still quite fast — certainly much faster than the previous generation, with this variant clocking in at almost three times the speed.

But it’s just not quite as quick as WD is advertising it to be. Damn. It’s about on par with what Samsung produces in the T7, which has this year been the external SSD benchmark to beat.

We tried a similar test on Windows PC to see if we could match those specs, and found a better result, with 1033 meg per second on read, but a good 50MB/s below the write. That’s still not bad, though perhaps this is mostly academic, because the speeds are still amazing, just not quite matching what WD says the drive can do.

It’s also a little bit of an ordinary design, though the texture is nice, but we’d have liked to have seen a full metal body — not this metal top, plastic bottom that kind of cheapens it — and maybe one of those extra special security elements, which one of its main competitors does come with.

Maybe a longer cable, too. We love the cable with a clip-on Type A connector, but it’s so small and could be a little lengthier.

Is the My Passport SSD worth your money?

In Australia, the 2020 My Passport SSD fetches retail prices of $189 for 500GB, $319 for 1TB, and $629 for 2TB of fast storage, which are recommended retail prices, and may be subject to change with street pricing.

As it is, that’s a stellar value, especially when pushed against the competition, which at the moment is Samsung’s T7 SSD. At RRP alone, WD is undercutting Samsung’s pricing by a solid chunk, and even hitting below the street price of what Samsung’s SSD goes for.

That’s a solid value as far as we’re concerned, and one of the best reasons to consider the 2020 My Passport SSD over other SSDs.

Yay or nay?

If you need storage in a pinch and are looking for speed, the 2020 My Passport SSD is an easy win. It definitely has both of those covered, with speed in a cinch, all wrapped up in a pint-sized form-factor.

While the drive speeds don’t quite nail the top speeds WD says the drive can do, the margin is so small, you’re not likely to notice. The point of WD’s new My Passport SSD is it is blazingly fast, and in an age where backing up can take time, that’s the sort of thing we all want. For the price, the WD My Passport SSD is hard to beat. Highly recommended.

2020 WD My Passport SSD
The good
Small
Very light
Very fast
Includes password protection software
Single cable in the box supports Type A and Type C USB
The not-so-good
Ordinary design
Design should be all metal, not half metal/plastic
Short cable
4.8
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