Monday, December 17, 2007

A Tiny Portable Hard Drive from Western Digital

I am holding in my hand a thin, lightweight chunk of plastic that is about the size of a standard photograph. Only one cord connects it to my computer: the one leading to the USB port--no other power source. The one clue that it's a hard drive is the slight vibration I'm feeling.

It's a portable hard drive though, one capable of holding more data than I have on the laptop it's connected to: 120 gigabytes. In fact, this quarter-pound package that's 5.11 inches by 3.14 inches holds more data than I have stored on my home PC, my laptop, and my iPod combined.

To put it in perspective, this little WD Passport portable hard drive, which comes in five colors, holds up to 34,000 photos or 9 hours of video or 30,000 songs. It would hold everything I've ever written in my life added to everything I'm going to write in the next 30 years.

This is the middle ground model though. These handy portable hard drives start at 60 GB (more than your average laptop) and go up to 250 GB, which should be ample for any National Geographic photographer on assignment.

Which brings me to why you would want or need something like this. The first is for a form of insurance. You back up everything you have to here and put it in a safe place, as a safety measure. On the road you back up your photos to here and put them in a different pack than your computer and camera. If you're a writer or musician or just somebody with a lot of music, this keeps you from being up the creek if your laptop gets stolen. (And according to Lojack, a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, with only 3 percent of those getting recovered.)

The other reason is to keep you from having to travel with a laptop to start with. A regular USB thumb drive holds a lot, but this baby would hold everything you could possibly need--the entire contents of your desktop. But it is still small enough to fit into a jacket pocket. It has synchronization software on it, so you could take along all your bookmarks and secure docs, confident that you can plug into a public computer somewhere and have what you need at your fingertips.

How does it perform? Well, it did take an hour to transfer 3.5 GB of photos (partly due to my older USB port I'm sure) and it's going to take some work to figure out how to make the thing synchronize anything besides "My Documents." Otherwise it stays cooler than I expected and it is whisper quiet. And hey, it's not even made in China: the Thais put this together.

The Western Digital Passport portable hard drive comes in glossy black, glossy white, metallic red, or "vibrant green." If you want the carrying case, that's either an extra $20 or free depending on where you make your purchase, but the hard drive is rugged enough that it should be fine without it with normal use. Prices range wildly between $80 and $110 for the 120 GB version and go up to around $200 for the Passport External 250GB Hard Drive. Check prices here:

J&R Music World


Unknown said...

I love mine, the 80GB version we bought for a little over $60. We take BOTH the laptop and the hard drive on our national park road trips. The last roadtrip saw us hit more than 45 parks in 17 states. The hard drive is great for downloading pictures from your camera so you can take more the next day. We take lots of photos (nearly 18,000 on that trip, for instance), so we need to do this every night or two. Usually that happens at the picnic table while we're cooking dinner while camping, or at the occasional hotel night we take. I love going through my pictures nightly, as it gives us a great time to reflect on what we've seen and better inform our nightly trip journaling. We also love the ability to upload some teaser photos to our website during the trip. With the amount of pictures we take, there's no way we could fit them all on the laptop hard drive, so an external HD like this one is absolutely perfect.

Unknown said...

Would any one know of a drive with real space ? I am a photographer that shoots 20GB a day and my images can get to a few GB per image since i use the technique HDRI sometimes

Tim said...


I know that Western Digital now makes small 320 GB ones now for only $125 or so, which is amazing. If you shoot 20GB a day that's 16 days of storage do delete many of those along the way, right? They can't all be worth keeping.

Unknown said...

Thank you Tim,

I do delete but in camera i only transfer keepers (most of the time) and since i am one of the lucky few at this point in my life (trying to drag that luck out as far as i can) to be able to stay for a long time on my travels i do need more room then 320GB i found a 500 GB that also comes with 1 year unlimited online storage package for $ 159.

Thank you again.
Trygve W.