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Western Digital Portable Drives - Hardware Encryption

SD cards are great for local storage on portable devices, and for transferring files between these small devices and computers (see earlier post).

But if you need serious external storage for computers -- with lots of capacity and big-file speed (especially for high-def video) -- you really need an external hard drive. And today, you'll be getting at least 1 TB or more of storage, starting at around only $50.

Western Digital (WD) has a nice line of portable storage products to go along with its larger external and networked storage units, internal drives, and business / enterprise products.

The portable drives typically include USB 3.0 interfaces, easy-to-carry sizes (around 3 1/4 x 4 1/3 inches and 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick), and capacities of 1, 2, or 4 GB. They can be used on Windows or Mac systems (sometimes after reformatting), and some also come in Mac-specific versions.

You can get simple plug-and-play drives starting as low as around $50, but for $10 to $20 more you can step up to higher-performance drives with built-in encryption.

Hardware encryption is a big deal for external storage. The contents of your drive can be encrypted and protected, so the drive is always safe from prying eyes if happens to wander off. And the encryption is in hardware, so it's built-in and unnoticeable.

To unlock the drive, you to run WD software to enter a password. (The software is always available on a virtual drive when you attach the drive.) The WD Discovery software package includes Security tools, Backup tools (from/to external drives and/or online cloud storage services), and general Drive Utilities.

The WD My Passport portable drives are available with both Hard Disk Drive and SSD technology:

  • Hard Disk Drives (HDD) use mechanical spinning magnetic platters, but still are significantly less expensive and offer higher capacities (at realistic prices).
  • Solid State Drives (SSD) are basically memory chips, and therefore are smaller, faster, and more rugged, which is especially wonderful for small, thin, and light laptops. However, SSD still is expensive -- with prices that are multiples of hard-disk drives.

You can start with the Western Digital My Passport Ultra portable hard drive. It's slim and light (4.44 x 3.21 x 0.50 in), with a textured anodized metal cover. It has a native USB-C interface to work with newer products, and also comes with a USB 3.0 adapter for the rest of your systems.

The My Passport Ultra has hardware encryption, and is available with 1 TB of storage for $69, 2 TB for $89, and 4 TB for $129.

Then the Western Digital My Passport SSD provides the advantages of solid-state storage, in a smaller and thinner package (3.5 x 1.8 x 0.39 in.), also with a USB-C native interface and hardware encryption.

However, the My Passport SSD has a serious jump in price for the benefits of SSD -- 250 GB for around $99, 512 GB for $149, 1 TB for $299, and 2 TB for $599.

The bottom line is that you can have a solid drive that easily fits in your shirt pocket and protects all your data, starting at under $70 for 1 TB of storage.

- See full Holiday Tech 2018 presentation for my local talks in the Princeton area
- See companion article in U.S. 1 Newspaper, Nov. 14, 2018

Find the WD My Passport Ultra and
WD My Passport SSD on Amazon.com

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