WD Elements vs My Passport: Which One is Better

Both WD Elements and WD My Passport are popular for being value-focused external drive line-ups that offer great storage space and data transfer speed at a budget-friendly price point. However, deciding between the two can be challenging if you don’t know how to wade through tech jargon and get to the bottom line.

Hi, I’m Devansh. I’ve had experience using both WD Elements and WD My Passport over the years for accessing my files on the go and also creating secondary backups. So, I know both of them thoroughly.

In this article, I’ll first describe both WD Elements and WD My Passport in detail, list their specs, and discuss the pros and cons-. After you have a clear understanding of both drives, I’ll help you decide which one is best based on your requirements; then I’ll answer some related questions.

If you’re looking for an external drive from Western Digital but are going through analysis paralysis deciding between Elements or My Passport, read on!

WD Elements

  • Storage Capacity Options: 500GB, 750GB, 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 5TB
  • Data Speed (over USB 2.0): 480MB/s
  • Data Speed (over USB 3.0): 5GB/s
  • Security: None
  • Backup Software: None
  • Price: Around $49.99 per TB

WD Elements are general-purpose external drives that you can buy for an affordable price. They’re compact in size and relatively lightweight, which makes them perfect for just throwing into your backpack and using on the go.

Although you can find them in a variety of storage capacities, they’re largely limited when it comes to security. They don’t have any built-in password protection or encryption. So, any third party can access your data if they get their hands on the drive.

With that in mind, I recommend a WD Elements drive for only certain use cases:

  • Offload your non-sensitive data volumes to an external drive for easy, on-the-go accessibility.
  • Expand the storage capacity of a gaming console or music system.
  • Make a secondary backup of non-sensitive data to keep on the side just in case.

Overall, these external drives are a great choice for anybody looking for a high-capacity and affordable storage solution that doesn’t carry any fancy features. However, if you’re looking for a drive with more premium features and better security, Elements is probably not for you.


  • Budget-friendly
  • Impressive data transfer speed
  • High storage space


  • Mediocre design
  • No security features

WD My Passport

  • Storage Capacity Options: 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
  • Data Speed (over USB 2.0): 480MB/s
  • Data Speed (over USB 3.0): 5GB/s
  • Security: 256-bit AES Encryption and Password Protection
  • Backup Software: SmartWare automatic backup software
  • Price: Around $54.99 per TB

WD My Passport is an upgraded version of WD Elements, both from a technical and aesthetic regard. You get all the features from the previous option, but with some more added on top.

First, let’s talk about data backup. These drives are preinstalled with Western Digital’s backup utility known as SmartWare, which can be used to schedule periodical data backups. Here’s a screenshot of it.

Credit: lo4d.com

This data backup functionality in combination with its 256-bit AES encryption and password protection makes this a highly secure and trustworthy drive to store all your important documents. Everything considered, WD My Passport is great if you can overlook the high price.


  • Compact, light weight, and portable
  • Available in a wide range of bright colors
  • Impressive security and data backup features


  • Costlier than WD Elements

Which One Is Better for You Overall?

Now that I’ve gone through both of these, I understand that you still might be on the fence about which external drive to go for. So, here’s a neat comparison table breaking down the main features.

SpecsWD ElementsWD My Passport
Storage Capacity Options500GB, 750GB, 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 5TB1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 5TB
Data Speed (over USB 2.0)480MB/s480MB/s
Data Speed (over USB 3.0)5GB/s5GB/s
SecurityNone256-bit AES Encryption and Password Protection
Backup SoftwareNoneSmartWare automatic backup software
PriceAround $49.99 per TBAround $54.99 per TB

As you might have picked up from the above table, both WD Elements and WD My Passport are largely similar in most aspects. However, the place where My Passport overtakes Elements, other than design, is in overall data security.

Although WD Elements doesn’t offer those high-end security features (SmartWare could be downloaded externally), there are a few alternative options available to you. You can always use a native Windows tool known as BitLocker to lock your drive instead.

However, with 256-bit AES encryption, password protection, and SmartWare automatic backup software, WD My Passport is the best drive to go for to store your most important and valuable documents. At the end of the day, you just need to consider your requirements and then choose accordingly.


To further your knowledge on the topic, here are some frequently asked questions you might be curious about.

Which Storage Drive is More Reliable Long-Term?

Beyond storage type (SSD and HDD) long-term reliability often comes down to factors like build quality and operating temperature. Both WD Elements and WD My Passport perform relatively well in this regard. Thus, you can trust both to keep your files secure over the long term.

Are There Heating Issues With These Drives?

This depends on whether you buy an SSD or HDD variant. SSDs have no moving parts, they generally don’t have any heating issues. However, since HDDs have motors to rotate their disks, heat is an inevitable by-product. Just make sure to keep it dust-free and have open air flow, and the temperature should stay under control.

Which One Includes Automatic Backup Software?

WD My Passport includes an automatic backup tool called SmartWare which provides you with administrator-level control of your drive along with letting you schedule automated data backups within determined periodic intervals. You’ll either get it pre-installed on your My Passport drive or you can also download it from Western Digital’s website.

Which Drive is Optimal for macOS and Chrome OS?

I’d recommend going for WD My Passport. WD Elements is Windows-focused and will have to be reformatted for those operating systems. Fortunately, My Passport is directly compatible with Chrome OS and offers a downloadable NTFS driver for macOS, making things a whole lot simpler.

Is WD Elements an SSD or HDD?

The WD Elements product line-up includes both HDD and standout SSD variants, like the Elements SE SSD. However, HDDs are most easily available. These have a spinning disk to read and write data. They’re slower than high-speed SSDs, but in return are much more budget-friendly.

Bottom Line

Go for WD Elements if you want a high-capacity drive where you can offload your data and access it on the go. On the other hand, choose WD My Passport if you want a sleek design, security features like password protection, and automatic backup capability.

Remember, there is no wrong choice to be made here. It just boils down to your priorities and budget level. Both of them are largely similar when it comes to speed, storage capacity options, and operating temperature. Where they differ is in design, security features, and price.

After reading this article, which one do you lean towards, WD My Passport or WD Elements? Share your answer with me in the comments!

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