As photographers we are constantly searching for the prefect method to back up our images in the off-chance our cat, General Pawton, decides to spill our coffee onto the keyboard and fry the hard-drive. Options range from numerous SD cards littering your camera bag (this has been my solution for the last couple of years), thumb drives bursting at the seams with photographs, and external hard-drives tethered to your computer with numerous wires scattered across your desk like a messy spider web. The WD My Passport Wireless solves these problems and even has a neat trick that can free up all those SD cards you have lying around.
After a quick inventory I realized I had about 25 SD Cards full of photographs for safe keeping… a little quick math later, I realized I’m sitting on a small fortune of SD Cards used exclusively for photo storage.
The wireless capabilities of the Passport are great for consuming data you’ve backed up on the Passport. You can access your photographs, videos, and music without ever attaching your computer to the device. You can even use a free app on your iPhone or Android phone to access the hard-drive.
The SD Card reader is the largest selling point for me. You can carry the Passport with you to a shoot and once you’ve filled up an SD card just pop it into the hard-drive and transfer all of the photos, in moments, for safe keeping. You can even set the hard-drive to erase the SD Card once it has transferred your precious photographs so you can pop it back in the camera and keep on going.
The battery is rechargeable via 3.0 USB and lasts for about 4.5 hours (WD claims 6 but I’ve yet to experience that). The battery means you can easily take this into the back country and still backup your images in the off-chance a bear eats your camera.
The WD My Passport Wireless is a solid little device, it’s light and compact enough to drop in your camera bag (Western Digital could have probably made it a little larger to accommodate a larger battery in my opinion). The passport only has a couple of buttons that feel solid and are incredibly straight forward.
The 2TB Passport only weighs 12.3 ounces, the 1TB is only 9.6 ounces… For the price, I wouldn’t even consider a smaller drive (the 500GB drive) than the 1 or 2TB drives.
This is where the Passport excels, there are a few things that make the Passport a must have for every serious photographer.
SD Card Slot – Every external hard-drive should have one. The ability to cut out the middle man, your computer, is a huge advantage over all over non SD Card equipped drives. You can quickly pull all of your photographs off of your card while at a shoot and clear the SD Card for more shooting.
Sharing – I was recently working a commercial shoot where the web developer needed quick access to the photographs before I had a chance. I could simply plug the SD card into my Passport and up to 8 people could connect to it with their computers or iPads and access the photographs. The SD card can be set to automatically delete all the photographs once they’ve been uploaded to the hard-drive, saving me even more time and money.
Wireless – And I don’t just mean Wi-Fi capable, the Passport runs on a rechargeable battery rated for 6 hours* and 20 hours of standby. You can stream from the drive without having access to a Wi-Fi network to 8 different devices (4 of them simultaneously).
*Real world experience has the battery coming in closer to 5 hours than 6… Your mileage will vary depending on how you use the drive.
The Passport isn’t blazing fast, like a solid state drive, but the speed is adequate. You can upload a 32GB SD Card in no time, especially if you’re using professional cards with higher upload speeds. If you’re cutting costs and buying consumer cards at Walmart you may be in for a longer wait at no fault of the hard-drive.
I highly recommend the SanDisk Extreme Pro 32GB SDHC , it’s one of the fastest and most reliable cards I’ve used.
*Buying SD Cards doesn’t have to break the bank, if you go to Best Buy or Target you can ask them to price match Amazon and save yourself about 75% of the cost.
Ease of Use
It’s got two buttons that are easy to use (on/off and Wi-Fi Protected Setup/battery status buttons bordering the USB port). The software that comes with the hard-drive is simple and straight forward, the layout is reminiscent of something intuitive you’d expect from the likes of Apple.
I would venture to say that even the tech challenged of us would have this hard-drive up and running in no time without the need to toss it across the room in a fit of misunderstanding bred rage.
Only costing (as of this writing) about $220 for the 2TB version, $180 for the 1TB version, and $130 for the 500GB version you aren’t likely to find a better external drive (for photography) for the money. Before learning the price I would have guessed the price to be about double that.
With that being said, I would have paid double for a solid state drive and a longer battery life (maybe even a small LCD screen to preview the photos)… Perhaps in the next generation.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options out there when it comes to external hard-drives… This keeps the price down and innovation up. Having tried a number of storage solutions in the past I feel confident that this will be my solution for the foreseeable future. Being able to insert an SD Card on the fly and have it backed up and erased at the same time has many advantages that are both convenient and fiscally sound (think about the number of SD Cards you can cut down on).
If you’ve had a chance to use the WD My Passport Wireless please feel free to share your thoughts below. If you have any questions you can post them below as well and I will try to answer them for you. Enjoy!