While I was on a recent trip, my laptop started making some funny sounds when booting up and I began to worry about the data I had created while I had been traveling. Of course, I had made a File History backup before I left, so I knew most of my data was safe. To protect the work I had done while traveling, I simply made copies on OneDrive.
However, I had recently seen an advertisement for a Western Digital My Passport Ultra. I was intrigued by the idea of having a large capacity, yet portable hard drive at my disposal while I was traveling. So I tracked down a 2TB version of the drive for about $90 at a computer store near where I was staying.
Now, as you know from reading my articles, I'm a Windows guy through and through, and I use the native Windows programs for the majority of my software needs. So my original plan was to use File History to back up onto the My Passport Ultra drive. But when I connected the drive and began to look around, I remembered reading that last year; Western Digital replaced the WD Smartware backup package with a new package called WD Backup.
I decided to investigate further, installed the software, and really liked what I found. Let's take a closer look.
The My Passport Ultra is a compact drive that fits in the palm of your hand and comes in a variety of colors (Classic Black, Brilliant White, Noble Blue, and Wild Berry). You can accessorize the drive with a colored rubber grip, which surrounds it to give you a more solid hold on the unit and to protect it if dropped. (The grip is an extra cost). The drive is powered by a USB 3.0 connection and offers a satisfactory data transfer rate of up to 5 GB/s.
Installing WD Backup was easy, and of course, all the software and user manuals are on the drive itself. After I connected the drive to my laptop with the included USB 3.0 cable I was off and running. I just accessed the drive in File Explorer and double-clicked the WD Apps Setup file. After a moment, the WD Apps Setup wizard, shown in Figure A, appeared on the screen.
The opening screen of the WD Apps Setup wizard shows all the tools that come with the My Passport Ultra.
In addition to WD Backup, the package includes a security tool for password protecting your drive, as well as drive management and status tools. However, to keep myself from getting sidetracked by other bells and whistles, I ran a Custom install and just selected WD Backup, as shown in Figure B. After all, I just wanted to back up my data files. (I will tell you that I later installed the rest of the tools and found them just as impressive as WD Backup.)
From the WD Apps Setup wizard, you can easily install the WD Backup program.
Making a backup
Once the installation was complete, I accepted the default backup settings, which configured the backup of my entire user directory on an hourly basis, as shown in Figure C. I then clicked the Start Backup button and the backup began immediately in the background. In addition to the hourly schedule, you can use the Edit Schedule button and choose either daily or monthly. Clicking the Edit Files button allows you choose Windows 10's Libraries or any folders under My Computer.
The default backup settings are perfect if all you want to do is back up your data.
While the backup operation was underway, I opened the WD Backup application to monitor the process, as shown in Figure D. It took a bit of time to complete the initial backup, but really no longer than File History. Subsequent backup operations went much quicker since the software backs up only any new files and those that have been changed since the last backup operation.
The WD Backup UI is straightforward.
Restoring files is also an easy operation. You can choose to restore files to the original location or to any location of your choice, as shown in Figure E. Then, click the Select Files To Restore button.
You can restore files to the original location or to whatever location you choose.
From the Restore Files screen, shown in Figure F, you can navigate to and select the files you want to restore. The View Files From panel on the right lists the dates that the file or files were backed up. The most recent backup version is selected by default.
The Restore Files screen makes it easy to find and select the files you want to restore.
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What's your take?
I continue to use File History as my main backup tool, but I've found that I really like the simplicity of the WD Backup program and the portability of the My Passport Ultra drive. I now use them as part of my standard backup program.
Do you use a portable hard disk to back up your laptop while you are on the go? If not, are you likely to get a Western Digital My Passport Ultra drive and use WD Backup program? Share your thoughts and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.