WD MyPassport Wireless Review

The WD MyPassport Wireless is a portable hard drive that can be used to stream media to mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. But it's also a cost-effective option for backing up your photos while traveling.

The Western Digital MyPassport Wireless doesn’t appear to be marketed especially to photographers, but there’s a lot about it for photographers on the go to like. It’s a new addition to the long-running MyPassport series of portable hard drives that Western Digital has put out for several years now.

Its core function is to be a wireless external hard drive. You can use the drive as a basic external drive and plug it in to your computer via USB, accessing the files as you normally would from an external hard drive.

But that’s not taking advantage of the signature features of this device. You can connect directly via wifi (or WPS, as the manual unhelpfully refers to it, standing for wifi protected setup), and stream movies, access files, use it as a DLNA media server, and perform other standard file operations using the free WD-supplied apps.

The wireless part appeals especially to iPhone or iPad users (or users of Android devices for that matter) that want to be able to access more storage than their device has built in. And there’s an internal rechargable battery, making it very convenient to use while traveling or otherwise on the go.

There are other wireless hard drives out there, but something that sets this one apart is that there’s an SD memory card slot in the side. That’s something that’s of course of particular interest to photographers. It turns a wifi hard drive into a way to backup photos on a memory card without having to use a computer. And it’s that use that I’m focusing on here. I’ve been testing the best portable backup devices for photographers, and this is another in that series.

There are versions of the WD My Passport Wireless, one with 1TB storage and 2TB. I tested the 1TB version. Functionally they’re exactly the same aside from the amount of storage space.

Memory Card Compatibility

It only accepts SD-sized cards, so if you’re using CompactFlash or something else you’ll want to look at other options.

SD, SDHC, SDXC. There’s an SD memory card slot built into the side of the device. It accepts SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards.

microSD. It doesn’t take microSD cards directly. But if you’re using something like a GoPro that uses microSD cards, you can easily use a microSD-SD adapter–they’re often included with many microSD cards, or you can pick them separately.

CompactFlash. There’s no CompactFlash slot.

File Formats

The device itself is mostly agnostic about file formats. You can copy photos, videos, or just about any file format from the SD card to the hard drive. That includes JPG, RAW, DNG, etc.

But the WD software that you use to browse the data on your mobile device or computer is more limited. It renders preview thumbnails for basic formats like JPG, but it doesn’t render previews for RAW files, including DNG. What you get is a question mark icon for an unknown file format. So you can see that there is a file there, but you can’t actually see a preview image of the photo. That’s likely a software limitation rather than a hardware one, and maybe it will be addressed in a future update to the WD software, but for now the lack of a RAW file support is a little disappointing.

Basic Operation: Backing Up Photos

There are two buttons on the WD My Passport Wireless–a power button and a wifi button. And there are two small LED lights–a power button that changes color to indicate how much charge is in the internal battery and an activity light that indicates WiFi status and flashes white while it imports data from the SD card. The LEDs can also indicate other things with different colors, including blue for wireless connection, orange for share connection mode, red for failed connection, and blinking white for the device performing an operation like copying from the memory card, updating the firmware, or reseting.

There are three ways to start the process of copying data from the SD card to the hard drive. The simplest way by default is to insert the SD card and press the WPS button (ie. the button that’s not the power button). That will begin the copy process, and the indicator light will flash white while it’s working. Once it’s done it just stops the operation–there’s no confirmation that the process was successfully completed.

The second option to start the copy process is to use the WD My Cloud wireless app. With the app you also have the operation of doing a move process instead, which deletes the data from the memory card as part of the operation (although you’re always better off reformatting the memory card in your camera rather than in a computer or other device).

A third option is to set it up to automatically import photos and videos from the SD card when you insert the memory card. To set that up you need to go into the app and turn on the setting for automatic import. You can also set it to automatically delete the files on the memory card after they’re imported, but again you’re better off doing that in your camera.

The WD My Passport Wireless doesn’t have a screen, and the two LED indicators are pretty basic, so if you’re wanting to confirm that the data imported correctly you’ll need to connect wirelessly and use the app.

With the app you can browse the data on the drive and perform basic file operations. It automatically generates preview thumbnails for basic image formats like JPG, but it doesn’t render previews for RAW formats like DNG, NEF, or CRW. You can confirm the files are there, but you can’t get a visual preview of the image.

Once you get home and you want to download your photos you can connect the WD My Passport Wireless to your main computer either directly by wifi, through a home network router, or with a USB cable.

Real-World Performance

I tested in downloading a completely full 64GB card, using an Extreme Pro 64GB SDXC. I loaded it fully with Nikon RAW files in the .nef format, each of which was between about 30MB and 75MB.

Completely importing to the drive took 1 hr 11 mins, which equates to about 0.83GB per minute or nearly 14MB/S. That’s roughly on a par with the speed of the SD slot on the HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA2 but significantly slower than the NEXTO DI ND2901.

It used 39% of the battery power, going from 100% to 61%, so you should be able to import a full 64GB card two and a bit times. Again, that’s about the same as the ColorSpace UDMA2 but a lot less than the NEXTO DI ND2901.

Power & Battery

There’s an internal battery that charges via a standard USB charger. The battery is not user-replaceable.

It comes with an AC USB charger (output of 5V / 2A), although it’s more cumbersome than ones you probably already have on hand. If you already have something like a multi-port charger or the one from your cell phone–anything that outputs 5V at 2A and that you can put a USB cable in (that includes external USB batteries), you can also use that rather than carry out the WD one. You can also charge it by connecting it to a computer’s USB port, but in many cases that will be slower because they usually output lower power than the device can handle.

There’s a single battery indicator light on the front that changes color according to the amount of charge: red for below 15%, yellow for 50%, green for 90%, and blue for 100% charged.

There’s an option under the advanced battery settings where you can enable a high-performance mode that “optimizes” media processing but also reduces battery life. I had that option disabled for better battery life.

Connections

The drive has a single USB port that is used for both charging and transferring data. It’s a USB 3.0 port, and it uses a USB 3.0 Micro-B cable.

And, of course, you can connect via password-protected wifi.

What’s in the Box

In addition to the main device, it comes with a USB 3.0 Micro-B cable and a relatively bulky AC adapter.

It’s doesn’t come with a pouch or case.

There are also some useful video guides and tutorials pre-loaded on the drive that walk you through various operations.

Size & Weight

It weighs 9.7 ounces (276 grams).

It measures 5.00 x 3.39 x 0.96 inches (or 12.70 x 8.61 x 2.44 centimeters).

It’s a bit bigger than some of the other portable hard drives because it has a battery and card reader built in, but it’s still small and very portable.

Warranty

It comes with a 2-year limited warranty.

Instruction Manual

There’s a printed quick-start guide included in the box, but there’s no full manual. There’s a digital version of the manual, along with a bunch of other stuff, pre-installed on the hard drive that you can access through the remote app.

And here’s the online version.

Firmware Updates

Do make sure you’re using the latest firmware, as a number of important issues have been addresses since the initial version. You can find the latest firmware here.

Compared With

HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA3NEXTO DI ND2901WD MyPassport WirelessHyperDrive COLORSPACE UDMA2Digital Foci Photo Safe II OTGDigital Foci Picture Porter Advanced
Model NoColorSpace UDMA3ND2901MyPassport WirelessColorSpace UDMA2PST-252PPA-500
Hands-On ReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReviewReview
Memory CardsCompactFlash Type I
SDXC
SDHC
SD
MMC
CompactFlash Type I
SDXC
SDHC
SD
SDXC
SDHC
SD
CompactFlash Type I
SDXC
SDHC
SD
MMC
CompactFlash Type I
SDHC
SD
Memory Stick
CompactFlash Type I
SDXC
SDHC
SD
microSDXC
microSDHC
microSD
Hard Drive Type2.5" SATA HDD 9.5mm
2.5" SATA SSD 9.5mm
2.5" SATA HDD 9.5mm
2.5" SATA SSD 9.5mm (requires external battery, sold separately)
Internal / Not user replaceable2.5" SATA HDD 9.5mm2.5" SATA HDD 9.5mm2.5" SATA HDD 9.5mm
Hard Drive Size320GB
500GB
1TB
2TB
casing only for user-installed drive
500GB
750GB
1TB
user replaceable
1TB
2TB
160GB
250GB
320GB
500GB
1TB
casing only for user-installed drive
500GB500GB
1TB
External Hard Drive CompatibilityYesYesNoYes, with adapter (sold separately)NoYes (with adapter)
LCD Screen3.5" color TFT LCD1 x 1" colorNo3.5" color TFT LCD2" mono (text/icon)5" color TFT LCD
USB TypeUSB 3.0USB 3.0USB 3.0USB 2.0USB 2.0USB 2.0
Max Download Rate Per Minute (Tested)CF: 1.8GB
SD: 1.9GB
HDD
CF: 3.3GB
SD: 2.1GB
SSD
CF: 5.3GB
0.8 GBCF: 1.8GB
SD: 0.9GB
0.3GB
Max Download Single Charge (Tested)350GB approx.140GB approx. 140GB approx.16GBCF: 120GB
SD: 76GB
WiFiYesNoYesYes, with adapter (supplied)NoNo
External PowerUSBAC, dedicated external battery (sold separately)AC, USBAC, USBAC, USBAC
Dimensionsin: 5.4 x 2.9 x 1
cm: 13.6 x 7.3 x 2.6
in: 5.0 x 3.0 x 0.9
cm: 12.8 x 7.7 x 2.3
in: 5.0 x 3.4 x 1.0
cm: 12.7 x 8.6 x 2.4
in: 5.4 x 3.0 x 1
cm: 13.4 x 7.5 x 2.6
in: 4.6 x 3.0 x 0.8
cm: 11.7 x 7.6 x 2.0
in: 6.7 x 3.9 x 1
cm: 16.9 x 9.8 x 2.6
Weight9.7 oz
276 g
w/HDD
8.1 oz
230 g
w/SSD
6.6 pz
186 g

9.7 oz
276 g
10.2 oz
292 g
10.0 oz
283.5 g
11.7 oz
332 g
Made InChinaKoreaMalaysiaChinaTaiwanTaiwan

Wrap Up

While it’s not specifically marketed to photographers, the WD My Passport Wireless has features that make it attractive to photographers who want to back up their photos while traveling but don’t want to card a laptop with them.

Its basic operation is simple, with speed and battery life performance on a par with other portable memory card backup devices.

The price point is also good, especially in terms of cost-per-gigabyte, making it a very cost-effective option for backing up your photos while traveling.

There are, however, a few limitations to bear in mind if you plan to use it for backing up your photos on the go. The most obvious is that it only supports SD-sized cards (or microSD with an adapter). So if you’re using CompactFlash, you’re out of luck. Another is that the software’s support for RAW image formats is currently nonexistent; you can back up RAW files just as you can just about any other file format, but you can’t preview the photos. The final thing is a safety issue. There’s no on-board way to confirm that a backup operation was successful, and no advanced file verification operations like some other memory card backup devices offer. You can connect via the app and check that the photos are all there, although that’s a bit limited by the lack of RAW file support.

Those limitations for backing up photos aside, there are other features of this device that make it an interesting hybrid for travelers. You can use it just like a traditional external hard drive. You can also use it to stream movies or other media, which can come in handy on long flights or endless train rides. And the support for mobile devices is very good, so you don’t need to use it with a laptop.

Available At

B&H Photo | Amazon

More Tips & Tricks:

View Comments

  • Once you have downloaded photographs onto your WD wireless pro from an SD card.
    How do you organise your photographs into folders that you may want
    Thanks

    • Lyn,

      What I do is transfer into the WD to immediately have a back up and more SD card storage. then import into Lightroom later for file management.

    • I don't recall that capability being built into the WD app, so you'd need to do that by connecting the device to a computer (or tablet with file browsing capabilities) and treat it as an external hard drive.

  • Will this gizmo perform incremental backups (e.g. if I keep using the same SD card in the camera without deleting already backed-up files, so I have two copies of my images), or does it just copy everything on the card each time (thereby duplicating already backed-up files)? If the latter, which of the other such devices you have reviewed have an incremental backup feature? Tia.

  • While out travelling I understand you can copy everything to the passport. But while you're away from home, can the passport send photos back a home base? Either directly (via an open port) connected to a public wifi, or via the WD Cloud?

  • Hi,
    I hope you can answer me, I have googled so much about it , but can't find the answer.
    Can I transfer from the SD card while I'm offline? I tried, just to test it, but it doesn't seem like it worked.
    I will be traveling quite a bit with out internet, so I want to back up my pictures on the go.
    Hope you can help

    • If you mean from the SD memory card to the hard drive, then yes, absolutely. You don't need to be connected via wifi for that. Insert the card and press the WPS button. A white flashing light indicates it's in progress. If you want to control it via the mobile app, you can set up the device's own wifi network--you don't need to be online with a regular internet connection--it creates its own wifi connection between your mobile device and the MyPassport.

  • i got micro sdxc 64gb and wanted to import to this wd without pc and wireless dan without ac power, it means full with the internal wd's batteries. File that i transfered was raw photograph file from my dslr and 4k file from my action cam. CAN I DO THAT WITHOUT PC, WIRELESS AND AC POWER??? pleaeee help

    • You can download from the memory card to the drive without AC power, yes. But I don't follow what you mean by "wireless dan". You can also find the manual here which might answer your question.

  • Hi, I have an android phone with non expandable storage. I take photos of my patients sitting in my clinic. I use quick pic to organise and browse through photos. I need to know. Will the camera app save the just clicked photo directly to the wireless drive ? And. .. Will i be able to browse through the drive photos on quickpic?

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