What do you mean you don’t have an external drive at home? They should be standard equipment in every household that has more than three computers and in this case we’re counting smartphones and tablets as computers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re keeping important files safe in the event of an Eskom-related computer fatality or augmenting a low-storage device or media player with extra space, you need one.
We were given the chance to fiddle with one of WD’s newer models of external hard drive, the My Passport Ultra Metal Edition (2TB). The moniker doesn’t mean that it’s going to leap on the couch, start shredding some wicked licks and then toss your TV out the window though, it refers to the shiny and stylish metallic aluminium casing wrapped around the delicate mechanical innards.
So, obviously, we’re quite taken by the look of the My Passport Ultra Metal Edition. Who wouldn’t be? The TSA, perhaps, they don’t really like metallic squares in your luggage. But everyone else should be draw to the polished surface and smoothed edges. It’s attractive but it won’t stay that way. Day-to-day jolts will result in the casing being marred by nicks and scratches. The obvious solution is to put it into a protective case but then what’s the point of getting this drive?
We’re glad we asked. It’s fast on the data transfer side. Not fast enough to hit that 5Gb/s USB 3.0 transfer speed that sits under the “Up To” section of WD’s marketing material but you should get around 100-110MB/s sequential read or write from the little speedster. This value can vary depending on individual drives and you’re going to see a substantial drop in speed if you connect the Metal Edition to a USB 2.0 port by mistake as well.
Still, it’ll shunt files from side to side at speeds you only wish you could experience from your ISP (unless you live in Singapore or have FTTH) and that’s good enough for us.
While we personally tend to avoid most software that ships installed on hard drives, due to the office rule that makes using a manual or setup wizard a fireable offence, the My Passport Ultra Metal Edition has a decent crop on hand. There’s a standard utilities package, WD Security lets you encrypt the drive and password protect it, in case you’re worried about the NSA, and there’s also the backup software to play with, called WD Smartware.
Smartware will let you easily use the Metal Edition as a backup drive and, like the two other packages available, it’s clear and simple. Your gran will still call you for tech support when faced with it, though. Smartware can be upgraded to a Pro edition but you’ll have to pay for the privilege of linking this drive to your Dropbox account.
You really should be backing up your files and the WD My Passport Ultra Metal Edition is as good as any option you’re going to get. It could be priced a bit better, you’re definitely going to be paying under R2k for a 2TB internal PC drive so this one could be more competitively priced. That said, it’s portable, has a whack of decent software and is USB 3.0 fast to boot. But your main deciding factor is going to be whether you find the shiny (but scratchable) exterior attractive.