Western Digital (WD) is a popular computer hardware manufacturer. The company which started in 1970 has some of the best hard disk drives (HDD) in the market.
If you search for good WD HDDs you can buy, you’ll likely come across two products – the WD Elements and WD My Passport HDDs. Customers who plan on buying a portable HDD always have trouble deciding between the two.
What’s the difference between the two? Well, both WD HDDs have their pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. In this article, I’ll be comparing WD Elements vs WD My Passport to know which is better.
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The WD Elements HDD has a sleek design and is lightweight. It’s a plug-and-play drive that offers instant storage upgrades. You can use it on both Windows and Mac computers.
You can also use the WD Elements HDD if you’re a gamer. The drive is best suited for PCs but you can still use it for gaming consoles like PS4, PS5, and Xbox.
My Passport from Western Digital is a popular external hard disk drive. It’s a choice product for Western Digital External hard disk drives on Amazon. The drive boasts of over 4.5 stars out of 5 from over 20,000 reviews on the eCommerce platform.
Not only does WD My Passport feature different capacities, but it also comes in different colors. Hence, it’s popular among customers who appreciate style.
Some top features of the My Passport drive are the slim design and locked-down security. It’s so slim that it can fit in your palm. Furthermore, the drive is relatively easy to use and is social-friendly.
The WD Elements hard disk drive is available in eight different storage sizes. This includes 500GB, 750GB, 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, and 5TB. Each one is a different model.
However, the most popular are 1TB and above. The storage capacity doesn’t affect the portability of this hard disk drive as both 500GB and 5TB devices are very lightweight and compact in size.
You can store about anything in your WD Elements HDD including videos, photos, documents, music, and other files. Furthermore, the drive boasts of WD quality with shock tolerance, durability, and long-term reliability.
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You can only buy the WD My Passport HDD in four different storage sizes. This includes 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 5TB. It’s impressive how much capacity the drive contains in a small enclosure.
Despite having just four storage sizes, the WD My Passport HDD has many models. This is because each storage size has four different models for the different color types.
In total, there are 16 different models of the WD My Passport hard disk drive. Even the smallest capacity, which is 1TB, is enough to store your videos, music, documents, photos, and all the rest.
WD Elements is the better HDD in terms of capacity. It supports 500GB, 750GB, and 3TB sizes which you can’t get with the My Passport HDD.
The WD Elements drive is a portable one. It’s very small so that you can easily hold it in your hands. The drive is only available in black color and the exact dimensions vary depending on the capacity.
WD Elements drives from 500GB to 2TB measure 4.35 inches in length, 3.23 inches in width, and 0.59 inches in height. They all weigh 0.29 Lb which is super lightweight for an HDD.
WD Elements drives from 3TB to 5TB measure 4.40 inches in length, 3.20 inches in width, and 0.82 inches in height. They all weigh 0.53 Lb which is still very lightweight for an HDD.
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You can purchase the My Passport HDD in different color types to suit your style. It’s available in blue, red, black, and white colors. Furthermore, it features a very slim design.
The WD My Passport drives have varying dimensions depending on the capacity. WD My Passport drives from 1TB to 2TB measure 4.22 inches in length, 2.95 inches in width, and 0.44 inches in height. They all weigh 0.27 Lb.
WD My Passport drives from 4TB to 5TB measure 4.22 inches in length, 2.95 inches in width, and 0.44 inches in height. They all weigh 0.46 Lb.
Both WD My Passport and Elements are very portable HDDs. However, My Passport takes the upper hand as it’s slightly more compact and has different color types.
As a plug-and-play drive, the WD Elements HDD is simple to set up. It works with the most recent Windows versions by default. You won’t have to download special drivers and almost all drivers you need come with your OS.
Most other HDDs come with such files including disk checkers and some utility programs. However, you get a 100 percent empty HDD if you buy the WD Elements drive. Nevertheless, you still need to reformat the drive after purchasing.
The drive comes pre-formatted for most recent Windows versions. If you have problems with setting it up, you can make use of the Quick Install Guide.
This hard disk drive is ready out of the box. However, there are different steps involved in fully setting it up. First of all, you can only use the SuperSpeed USB cable the drive comes with.
Your computer may not recognize the drive if you don’t use the right cable. Next, you have to install the WD software that’s stored inside the drive. The My Passport drive is ready to use after completely installing the WD Software.
The software shouldn’t take long to install but it depends on your PC. Generally, setting up WD My Passport isn’t difficult, it just involves multiple steps.
It’s easier and faster to set up WD My Elements as it doesn’t feature extra software installation processes like My Passport.
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The WD Elements drive is a fast hard disk drive when it comes to data transfer. It transfers up to 100 MB per second. This means that it can transfer a file of around 2.5GB in less than 30 seconds.
With the SuperSpeed USB-A cable, it can transfer data even faster, up to 5Gbps. Furthermore, the hard drive comes without any errors. You can verify this by running the Chkdsk utility if you use Windows.
However, it’s important to note that the WD Elements HDD is a spinning drive. Spinning drives all eventually fail after three to five years.
In terms of speed and performance, the WD My Passport can reach about 100MB per second for both read and write. A 10GB file will take less than 100 seconds to transfer. In other tests, the record was around 130MB per second.
While this is impressive for an HDD of such size, these speeds are average for most HDDs. You’ll get the most speed and better performance when transferring data if you make use of the SuperSpeed USB cable.
Just like the WD Elements, the WD My Passport is also a spinning drive so it’s normal for it to fail after a few years.
In terms of speed and overall data transfer performance, WD Elements and My Passport aren’t very different which isn’t surprising as they’re from the same manufacturer.
Security is one major aspect where the WD Elements HDD comes short. The hard disk drive doesn’t feature any built-in security software or utility of any sort.
Hence, if you’re going to buy the WD Elements HDD, you’re 100 percent responsible for the security of your data. You can try to secure the HDD using Windows built-in EFS if you own a Windows PC.
While you still can’t encrypt the entire drive with Windows EFS, you can store files in folders and encrypt the folders. You can easily encrypt folders from the advanced properties section.
For this to work, however, the drive must be formatted with NTFS.
The WD My Passport HDD stands tall when it comes to security. It was designed with security in mind using 256-bit AES hardware encryption. The HDD also supports password protection.
Once you set up the drive, you can immediately turn on password protection to keep your files secure. You can set a unique password from the WD Discovery program.
If you password protect your My Passport drive, it’s very important that you don’t forget it. If you forget your password, you’ll have to completely wipe the drive.
Without debate, the WD My Passport HDD is far better than WD Elements when it comes to security.
As an external HDD, you can always backup your data. This is possible using the WD Acronis True Image software. The application is very easy to use and you can backup more than files.
Simply download from the WD website and install. After installation, it’ll automatically backup your files to WD My Cloud. In other words, if you want to use the WD Acronis True Image software to backup files, you must pay for WD My Cloud.
Aside from backing up files, the WD Acronis True Image software also helps prevent cyberattacks and ransomware.
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The WD My Passport Drive also works with WD Acronis True Image software for backup. You can automatically backup your files and more to WD My Cloud Home.
However, that’s not the only backup solution you have. There are more thanks to the WD Discovery Software. The WD Discovery Software lets you connect to social platforms and cloud storage for backing up data.
You can connect and backup data to Facebook, Google Drive, and Dropbox amongst others. In addition, you can seamlessly download and share data from these cloud storages at any time.
Support for cloud storage like Google Drive and Dropbox gives WD My Passport the edge over WD Elements HDD.
WD Elements is compatible with Windows, Mac, and also gaming consoles like PS4, PS3, and Xbox. However, this isn’t general. According to the manufacturer, compatibility differs depending on the user’s hardware configuration.
To use WD Elements on Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7, you must format the drive to NTFS. For other operating systems, you may have to reformat.
The WD Elements HDD will operate efficiently in temperatures from 5 to 36 degrees Celsius. It won’t operate in temperatures lower than -20 degrees Celsius or higher than 65 degrees Celsius.
The Western Digital My Passport HDD will work for PCs and game consoles alike. However, it’s most compatible with Windows 10 and 8.1 plus you have to format it to NTFS. Other operating systems may require reformatting.
Notably, WD My Passport is compatible with Chromebook – tested and certified. In other words, it’s compatible with Linux in addition to Windows and Mac systems.
For temperatures, it’ll work efficiently from 5 to 36 degrees Celsius. It won’t operate if the temperature is lower than -20 degrees Celsius or higher than 65 degrees Celsius.
The WD My Passport HDD wins here with support for Chromebook.
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The main interface for the WD Elements HDD is USB 3.0 Type A. This is the standard interface that most modern computers feature. Hence, you won’t have any problem finding PCs that your WD Elements HDD can connect with.
Having a USB 3.0 Type A interface also contributes to the fast data transfer rates of this HDD. Usually, USB 3.0 Type A can transfer data at a max rate of 5 Gbps. In addition to USB 3.0 Type A, the WD Elements HDD also supports the old USB 2.0 interface.
The WD My Passport supports USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 interfaces. It then raises the bar with support for USB 3.2 Gen 1 – the SuperSpeed USB.
The USB 3.2 Gen 1 is an upgraded version of the USB 3.0 and it’s the latest USB standard. The USB 3.0 is below USB 3.1 which transfers data at 10 Gbps. USB 3.2 Gen 1 can transfer data at a max speed of 20 Gbps.
However, to achieve such high speed for data transfer, you must use a compatible cable. That’s why the WD My Passport HDD comes with a SuperSpeed USB cable.
The WD Elements USB 3.0 Type A interface is good but the WD My Passport USB 3.2 Gen 1 interface is better.
You get a two-year limited warranty when you purchase the WD Elements HDD. If you’re in China, however, the warranty lasts for three years.
For support, you’ll have to make use of the WD website. First off, there’s an online datasheet you can download with information about the drive.
Next, there’s the WD Customer Support/Knowledge Center page. This page features many resources on WD products, features, warranty, and others. You just have to search for topics relating to the WD Elements HDD.
Finally, you can submit a direct inquiry to the WD Support Team using the Ask A Question option.
The WD My Passport HDD comes with a three-year limited warranty for all customers worldwide. There’s no special warranty for Chinese customers. In addition, there’s the WD 30-day money-back guarantee.
From the WD website, you can access the WD My Passport Data Sheet to know more about the product. To get help, you can make use of the WD Knowledge Center.
The Knowledge Center contains FAQs and other resources specific to the My Passport HDD. You can use the Ask A Question page to submit a direct inquiry. You can also seek help from other WD customers via the WD Community page.
Both HDDs have multiple support channels. However, you get more warranty coverage with WD My Passport than WD Elements – unless you’re in China, then it’s the same.
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Below are WD Elements prices for different storage sizes:
- 1 TB Capacity: $47.99
- 2 TB Capacity: $59.99
- 3 TB Capacity: $89.99
- 4 TB Capacity: $97.99
- 5 TB Capacity: $106.99
Below are WD My Passport prices for different storage sizes:
- 1 TB Capacity: $52.99
- 2 TB Capacity: $64.99
- 4 TB Capacity: $99.99
- 5 TB Capacity: $114.99
The WD Elements HDD is more affordable than the WD My Passport HDD. However, this isn’t surprising since WD My Passport has more advanced features.
Pros & Cons
- Portable and lightweight
- Varying capacity
- Warranty and support
- Easy to set-up
- Good speed and performance
- No security
- Spinning drive
- No external backup channels
- Lightweight and portable
- Password protection and encryption
- Cloud storage backup
- SuperSpeed cable
- USB 3.2 Gen 1 Interface
- Warranty and support
- Spinning drive
- More expensive
- Both WD Elements and My Passport are products of Western Digital.
- They are both electronic hard drives.
- With either My Passport or WD Elements, you get storage drives with impressive file transfer speed.
- They are both compatible with PCs and game consoles.
- They both have a responsive customer support team.
- Unlike My Passport, WD Elements supports large storage capacities.
- WD My Passport is more compact than WD Elements.
- It’s easier and faster to set up WD Elements, unlike My Passport.
- My Passport HDD has superior security mechanisms than WD Elements
- WD Elements allows cloud backup using Acronis True Image, while My Passport supports cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox.
To be straightforward, WD My Passport HDD is a better hard disk drive than WD Elements. In terms of capacity and performance, both are not very different as they’re both Western Digital Products.
WD My Passport takes the edge over WD Elements mainly because it comes with the WD Discovery Software. Thanks to this software, WD My Passport supports password protection, encryption, and more backup locations.
Scott L. Macarthur is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also an author on TheNextWeb.