The Best Portable SSD: Reviews by Wirecutter

Our runner-up pick for best portable SSD, the 512 GB Western Digital My Passport SSD.


512 GB Western Digital My Passport SSD

If our pick is sold out or unavailable, we recommend the 512 GB Western Digital My Passport SSD for around the same price. In our tests, the My Passport SSD was about 30 to 60 MB/s slower than the Samsung T5, but it was faster than the other two solid-state drives we tested. Like the Samsung T5, it has a USB-C port and supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds. The My Passport SSD is even thinner and lighter (but longer) than the T5, though not by much. Its software is as simple to use as the Samsung’s, and it has hardware encryption, as well. The My Passport SSD has a three-year warranty but lacks an indicator light.

Plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the My Passport SSD had sequential read and write speeds of 387 MB/s and 383.9 MB/s, respectively. While these are still respectable speeds, they reflect the slower side of the four solid-state drives we tested. When we plugged the My Passport SSD into a Thunderbolt 3 port, though, it had sequential read and write speeds of 435.4 MB/s and 429.9 MB/s, respectively—a speed increase of nearly 50 MB/s. It was faster than every drive except the Samsung T5, which was about 30 MB/s faster at reading and 60 MB/s faster at writing in the same test.

The Western Digital had fast random read and write speeds, too. Its average USB 3.0 random read and write speeds were 15.8 MB/s and 26.1 MB/s, respectively. Via a Thunderbolt 3 port, the My Passport SSD had random read and write speeds of 19.4 MB/s and 27.2 MB/s. It was a little slower than the Samsung’s read and write random speeds by around 7 MB/s and 13 MB/s, respectively.

The My Passport SSD has a USB-C port, and it comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable. It also includes a tiny USB-C to USB-A adapter for older systems that’s easy to pop on and off, but we’re concerned that will be easy to lose. We found that the USB-A adapter slowed down the My Passport SSD a little, too; when we tested the My Passport with the Samsung T5’s USB-A cable, it had sequential read and write speeds that were about 10 MB/s faster.

The 512 GB My Passport SSD costs around $200, or 39 cents per gigabyte, which is about the same as you’d pay for the faster Samsung T5. The 256 GB model costs the same per gigabyte, and Western Digital’s 1 TB model is around 3 cents less expensive per gigabyte.

A close up of a Western Digital My Passport SSD connected to a laptop using a USB-A adapter.
WD’s My Passport SSD connects to older devices with a small USB-A adapter that could be easily lost.

At 3.5 inches long, 1.8 inches wide, and 0.4 inches thick, the Western Digital joins our top pick as one of the most compact portable solid-state drives we found. Compared to the Samsung T5, the My Passport SSD is 0.6 inches longer, and a half-inch skinnier. It weighs 1.4 ounces—0.4 ounces lighter than our top pick—making it the lightest solid-state drive we tested. The My Passport SSD’s enclosure felt as sturdy as the Samsung T5, although its metallic gray bottom is a fingerprint magnet.

A screenshot of Western Digital's My Discovery software.
Western Digital’s My Discovery software is simple to use, but advertisements for other available apps are distracting.

The My Passport SSD includes Western Digital Discovery installations for Mac and Windows. Using Discovery, you can access Western Digital Security, where you can set and remove your password to activate the drive’s AES 256-bit hardware encryption. You can also choose to back up your portable solid-state drive through Western Digital’s Discovery software. Although the software is easy to use, it has ads for other applications—like Plex, Upthere Home, and Acronis True Image—which makes it feel bloated. (You can hide the ads by pressing the down arrow on the “Available Apps” tab, but you’ll have to do it every time you open the app.)

The My Passport SSD does not have an indicator light like the Samsung T5 Portable SSD, but it does have a three-year warranty.

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