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Western Digital My Passport Essential USB External Hard Drive

Western Digital My Passport Essential USB External Hard Drive

Here we take a look at the Western Digital My Passport Essential 320GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive which is an external 2.5″ unit, model number WDME3200TE. This is the rather subtle Midnight Black edition but if you’re a little more adventurous they come in several colours including Red, White, Pink and a rather striking Intense Blue. The WD Passport range also ships in other capacities including 160GB, 250GB and a huge 500GB version. They will soon even be releasing a 1TB drive in the Passport Essential product line. I would recommend getting the biggest size you can afford as it will cost you a lot more in the future if you run out of room and need another drive instead of wishing you’d bought a slightly bigger capacity. You can often find that the largest size demands a premium, but there’s often not a lot between the remaining sized drives.


The passport essential has a sleek and glossy casing which can unfortunately scratch easily and also attract dust and the dreaded fingerprints. Despite this the Western Digital portable drive looks great. You could always buy a separate case to add further protection for your drive, especially if you plan on taking it out and about with you.

In Use

Setup of the WD My Passport Essential 320GB USB drive is really easy, just plug it in, start your PC and you are up and running. There are some useful utilities factory installed on the hard disk but they are not required in order for you to use the drive.

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The utilities that Western Digital include with the passport essential consist of backup software, synchronisation software and encryption software that keeps your data secure in the event it falls into the wrong hands.

The my passport essential 320GB USB drive’s transfer speeds are competitive for a 2.5 inch portable hard drive but are certainly slower than mains powered MyBook Essential drives from the Western Digital product range. The passport uses the USB 2 interface so is comparable in terms of transfer speeds to its 2.5″ external drive competition. The new USB3 interface isn’t supported on this model.


WD have a very good reputation for reliability and although all hard drives can fail you probably won’t get a more reliable external hard drive. The warranty is two years which is a little mean but it’s not the one year that many manufacturers provide these days. Despite this you should always make sure you have a second copy of any data you store on a hard disk drive.


Lots of size options to suit your requirements

USB powered requires no external power adaptor

Small unit easily fits in a shirt pocket

Compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems

Software included with package

Turns on and off with your computer

Simple setup


Slower transfer speeds compared to 3.5 inch external drives

Glossy casing attracts fingerprints, scratches and dust

No firewire, eSATA or USB 3.0 support.