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The Western Digital My Passport Ultra is a portable USB3 hard disk that’s available in a variety of colours. It’s small enough to fit inside a coat pocket and comes with a carrying pouch to protect against scuffs and nicks, but it’s highly unlikely the cloth material will provide any protection against drops and knocks.

We weren’t expecting the My Passport Ultra to be significantly faster than other portable USB3 disks in our benchmarks, as it uses a 2.5in 5,400rpm hard disk. It read small files at a very quick 55.5MB/s, though, which is almost twice as fast as any other portable USB3 disk we’ve seen. Otherwise, its performance was good but more in line with similar disks. Small files were written at 24MB/s, while large files were read at 103.7MB/s and written at 92.9MB/s.

Western Digital has bundled three programs with the My Passport Ultra that are compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X, and the installers are stored on the disk itself. Smartware is a backup program that can back up your files either continuously in the background while you work or according to a schedule of your choice. The former’s likely to be the more useful option for a portable disk that isn’t going to be connected to a computer all the time.

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Smartware is smart enough to back up only those files which have changed since the last backup, which saves time. You can choose to back up specific files or folders, or let the program copy whole categories of files, such as all your photos, music and videos. As expected for a free program, it can’t create a bootable clone of your entire disk. The program’s interface uses bar chart-like graphics that provide a visual overview of how much space is being used by different types of files, such as documents or videos.

As an alternative to backing up files to the My Passport Ultra, Smartware can back up files to a Dropbox account. Another potentially useful cloud-related option is the ability to back up files from Dropbox to the Passport Ultra. Sadly, there’s no support for other online storage services such as Google Drive, Skydrive or Box.

WD Security is a separate program that password protects the Passport Ultra. The final bundled program, WD Drive Utilities, presents you with a basic SMART status report and also lets you adjust the amount of time that must elapse before the disk goes to sleep.

The Western Digital My Passport Ultra has genuinely useful backup and security software, along with fast performance and a low cost per gigabyte of just 8p. It’s a great value portable USB3 hard disk and Best Buy award winner.

Basic Specifications
Rating *****
Award Best Buy
Hard disk WD10JMVW-11AJGS0
Capacity 1TB
Formatted capacity 936GB
Price per gigabyte £0.08
Disk size 2.5in
Interface USB3
Power connector USB from host
Spindle speed 5400rpm
Cache 8MB
Weight 160g
Size 15x82x111
Power consumption idle N/A
Power consumption active

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