Western Digital refreshes external drives, adds auto backup and security

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my-passport-essential

Western Digital has announced 5 new external hard drives of various shapes and sizes. The refreshed lineup represents WD’s shift towards “smaller, smarter, and safer” storage solutions. As a result, all of these new drives come standard with built-in automatic backup software, password protection, and 256-bit hardware encryption.

There are 3 new My Passport drives (My Passport Essential, My Passport Essential SE, and My Passport for Mac) and 2 new My Book models (My Book Essential and My Book for Mac). Each of these will ship with WD’s new Mac / PC-friendly backup solution, SmartWare, which provides an “[e]asy, visual way to protect, store and manage your important data.”

One of WD’s goals was to make the software easy for everyone to use and help users avoid making mistakes with their precious data. To cut down on problems, SmartWare relies on user-friendly visual aids and simple, straightforward options to backup and/or retrieve files. In the demo I saw, the software appeared to be very intuitive and included some nice touches like a search function and real-time backup status reporting.

smartware-backup-screenshot

After configuring the software the very first time you boot up the drive, SmartWare will run automatically (if you allow it), providing an automatic and continuous “backup and drive management” solution. The software comes built-in, i.e. it resides on a separate partition on the hard drive, but the auto-backup can be disabled.

As for the “safer” attributes of the new drives, each one comes equipped with WD Drive Lock – password protection + 256-bit hardware encryption. Once the password is set, the owner (or anyone who knows the pw) is the only person who can access the data. If the password is lost, there is NO way to retrieve it because the password is never shared with Western Digital in any capacity.

wd-security

Beyond the password, every bit of data stored on the drive is protected by 256-bit AES encryption. In other words, without the password, the data is basically impossible to access. Might sound a bit over the top, but WD said they wanted to err on the side of total security.

The drives come in two basic flavors: portable or stationary. The smaller, USB-powered My Passport Essential, My Passport Essential SE, and My Passport for Mac encompass the “ultra-small, ultra-portable” segment. And now for the details:

wdfmp_essential_ablMy Passport Essential:

  • comes in 5 color options (Midnight Black, Arctic White, Pacific Blue, Cool Silver and Real Red)
  • Docking station (optional)
  • USB 2.0
  • 320 / 500 / 640 GB
  • MSRP $99-$149
  • NTFS File system optimized for PC
  • 2-year limited warranty

wdfmp_essentialseMy Passport Essential SE:

  • Midnight Black
  • Docking station (optional – available end of November)
  • USB 2.0
  • Capacities 750 GB & 1 TB
  • MSRP $179-$249
  • NTFS File system optimized for PC
  • 2-year limited warranty

wdfmp_formacMy Passport for Mac:

  • Charcoal Matte
  • Docking station (optional)
  • Compatible with Apple Time Machine
  • USB 2.0
  • 320 / 500 GB
  • MSRP $99-$139
  • HFS+JournaledFile system optimized for Mac
  • 2-year limited warranty

Both the larger, outlet-powered My Book Essential and My Book for Mac feature an “Illuminated Capacity Gauge” on the spine of the “book.” Here are the rest of the specs:

wdfmb_essentialMy Book Essential:

  • WD GreenPower eco-friendly drive
  • Cool, quiet, fan-less design
  • USB 2.0
  • 500 GB & 1 / 1.5 / 2 TB
  • MSRP $99-$249
  • NTFS File system optimized for PC
  • 2 -year limited warranty

wdfmb_formacMy Book for Mac:

  • WD GreenPower eco-friendly drive
  • Cool, quiet, fan-less design
  • USB 2.0
  • 1 TB
  • MSRP $139
  • HFS+JournaledFile system optimized for Mac
  • 2 -year limited warranty

So there you have it folks. More info about 5 new WD external hard drives, backup software, and security measures than you ever knew you wanted. Hands-on review coming soon.

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