June 8, 2008
My Passport Elite Western Digital
This is Another No Brainer
I often mention my aversion to reading manuals. The My Passport Elite from Western Digital is a palm sized 320 Gigabyte external drive that wins my No Brainer prize this month. It plugs into your computer with a USB 2 connector, installs WD Anywhere Backup, a made for Western Digital version of Memeo backup software, in three easy steps, and, after a little setup work, saves most of your entire hard drive or only those files or folders you designate as your most important files. It will continue to save your files automatically as long as you have the My Passport Elite connected. The software also saves a list of files that have been added or changed if My Passport Elite is disconnected. When you reconnect the drive all of these files will be added to the drive and backups will continue. You can set the software to save copies of changed files. I decided the original file plus two additional copies would be enough for me. I reformatted the drive from its native FAT to NTFS so as to accommodate files sizes larger than 4 GB as I do some video editing that creates the need for larger files.
• My Passport Elite Portable Hard Drive
• USB cable
• Quick Install Guide
A fully licensed version of WD Anywhere Backup software
My box also included a cloth sleeve with a drawstring to hold the drive.
You can choose to encrypt the backup files. If you do they can only be restored from within the WD Anywhere Backup software. I decided to skip encryption for this review. Although there is a link in the control screen for backing up more than one computer I found that link sent me to the Memeo website where they offer software for sale.
Once installed the WD My Passport Elite took 9.5 hours to backup 117 Gigabytes from the Lenovo ThinkPad. Remember The My Passport Elite uses a USB 2 connection. Once backed up on the My Passport files are only backed up again when and if they are changed. This keeps you current while keeping as many copies of older file versions as you set when creating the backup plan.
You can setup multiple backup plans. These can be to make extra copies of special files or to backup any files on your network such as on an external hard drive or even a thumb drive. The included version came with a serial number to register it. You can download a free trial version if you want to try it out. I have no idea how it will work with other drives.
To restore selected files or all the files in a Backup Plan go to “Restore Files” in the WD Anywhere Backup software. There will be a folder tree that will help you find what you need. If you know the file name you may use the Search option in Restore Files to find it quicker.
Windows XP Home Edition
Windows XP Professional Edition
Windows 2000 Workstation with Service Pack 4 installed
Mac OSX 4.8.2 or higher
The manual is very careful to warn you to handle the My Passport Elite with care. Any drive needs to be protected from jars, drops, and other possible carelessness that could cause failure. I pack my external drives in a box with bubble wrap when on the road.
Placing your mouse over the WD drive manager icon in Quick Launch on your desktop will show you how much space is still available on the My Passport drive. Right clicking on the same Icon allows you to go to the “Safely Remove My Passport Drive” option. There is a second Icon associated with My Passport in the same Toolbar that shows a moving circle when backup up ongoing. It is static when the backup is complete. Right clicking that icon opens a list of operational commands for the My Passport drive.
Western Digital provides a simple diagnostic program that checks all drives the on the system for errors. This can be found at Start/All Programs/WD diagnostics after installation.
It is also easy to go to My Computer, open the My Passport Elite drive and add files you want to transport but not using the WD/Memeo backup software. You can also access files in this manner by opening the folder containing your backup and then copying them to another drive. I am not pushing this but I did have to do this in an emergency situation.
With 320 Gigabytes of available storage this drive will handle most notebook and many desktop requirements as far as backups. The actual size of the case makes it quite portable. I carry it with me when traveling. I find it easy to use. I feel safer now than I did before I installed it. That is what backing up is all about.
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