Zit Seng's Blog

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Western Digital My Passport Slim Review


Western Digital announced the availability of their My Passport Slim portable hard disks in Singapore earlier in mid October. The My Passport Slim line is characterised by its thin all-metal enclosure with hardware-based encryption and comes in capacities of 1TB and 2TB.

The My Passport Slim looks sleek. Now, is the Slim thinner than  My Passport Ultra, the latter also marketed as being “sleek” and “ultra-compact”?

Here’s the thin-ness comparison: The Ultra comes in various thickness, depending on the capacity: 500GB is 12.8mm, 1TB is 15.4mm and 2TB is 20.9mm. The 1TB Slim is 12.3mm. There are no specifications available for the 2TB Ultra yet (it will be launched a little later). So, at the same capacity, the Slim is the thinner.

That the Slim comes in an all-metal construction also gives it a solid, robust, and premium feel. The metal build doesn’t actually make the Slim heavier than the Ultra. In fact, the Slim weighs in at 136g compared with the Ultra’s 154g (for the 1TB model).

MyPassportSlimThe My Passport Slim comes in a typical WD box. The drive is half exposed so you can tell what’s inside. There’s only one colour. A USB 3.0 cable and a carrying pouch is included.

Like other Western Digital offerings, the My Passport Slim comes with local and cloud backup software. I use a Mac, and I’m pretty satisfied with Time Machine, so I’m not really interested in these offerings. Not that they work on the Mac anyway.

What’s more interesting, at least to me, and which does work on the Mac, is the hardware encryption features. Although it’s hardware encryption, you’d still need software to set the password, to lock and unlock the drive. Fortunately, the WD Security application is available on OS X, and I’m testing it under OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

Once you’ve setup a password for the drive, it can be locked, and you’ll need to use the password to unlock it.  When you plug in a locked drive into the Mac, OS X doesn’t see the drive at all. You need to run the WD Drive Unlock utility to enter the unlock password, the only will the drive appear to OS X and you can use it as you normally do with other external drives.

What if you don’t have the WD Drive Unlock utility? This might be the case if you take the My Passport Slim to someone else’s Mac. Well, that’s not a problem. The My Passport Drive Slim will present a virtual CDROM to OS X, and you can run the WD Drive Unlock utility contained in there. This virtual CDROM is presented only when the drive is locked.

It will be interesting to understand more details under-the-hood on how exactly this hardware encryption works. The full disk encryption mechanisms covered in Wikipedia are sound, but we don’t know if the My Passport Slim does what is described in there.

Most importantly, the hardware encryption on the My Passport Slim is easy and convenient to use. In this day and age where everyone (i.e. most corporations and governments) is concerned about data security, this is practical everyday encryption that any layman can use.

Western Digital also provides another application, WD Drive Utilities, for the Mac. This simple tool lets you perform some drive diagnostics, including checking the SMART status, perform quick self-test on the drive, and run a full media scan. You can also set the drive sleep timer, format the drive, and submit your product registration.


Testing with Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, the My Passport Slim delivers about 105MB/s reads and writes. Nothing stellar about it, but certainly performs up to expectations.


The WD My Passport Slim is an ultra sleek and very well built portable hard disk. Its hardware encryption is simple and easy to use, and comes with utilities that support Mac users.


  • Thin, light, ultra sleek premium all-metal body
  • Hardware encryption that is simple and easy to use
  • Supports Mac computers


  • More expensive than other portable hard disk

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