WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus: external hard drives compared

Two top external hard drives, but which one comes out on top?

WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus
The WD My Passport (left) and the Seagate Backup Plus (right).
(Image credit: WD / Seagate)

If you're researching the best external hard drives to buy then it's very likely that both the WD My Passport and the Seagate Backup Plus models have come up in your search: they both offer excellent performance, solid design, key features and long-term reliability.

We're happy to recommend them both – so how do you choose between them? Here we're going to compare the two models in all the key categories that matter, and that should give you a better idea about which external hard drive best meets your needs and budget.

Read on for the definitive WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus external hard drive head-to-head comparison: whether you want to know about the maximum capacities on these drives or how much room they'll take up on your desk, we've got all the answers.

WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus: design

WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus

The WD My Passport (left) and the Seagate Backup Plus (right).

(Image credit: WD / Seagate)

Perhaps the first word that comes to mind when you look at the WD My Passport is "compact" – this is an external hard drive wrapped up in a thin, light package. The 2GB version measures 107 mm x 75 mm x 11.2 mm (that's 4.2 inches x 3 inches x 0.44 inches) and tips the scales at just 120 grams (or 0.26 pounds). If you're looking for a drive that you can carry around with a laptop and easily slip into a bag, the WD My Passport might be it – although it works just as well attached to a desktop computer.

It's also worth pointing out that the WD My Passport comes in a choice of three different colours for the top of the casing (the back of the casing is always black): black, blue and red. As a result, the aesthetics of the drive stand out from the crowd just a little bit, with the textured finish on the top or the front of the device adding to its appeal. If you like your external hard drives to look good, the WD My Passport fits the bill.

The Seagate Backup Plus is more serious and business-like than the model from Western Digital. This drive is only available in black, and while it's by no means ugly, it sticks to the basics as far as visual appeal goes. It measures 198 mm x 118 mm x 41 mm (7.8 inches x 4.6 inches x 1.61 inches), and weighs 1.06 kilograms (that's 2.34 pounds), so you're going to have to find more room for it on your desk.

We like the slightly curved corner where the Seagate logo is, and the USB ports on this drive are well placed and easily accessible too. The grilles for keeping air flowing around the drive are also well done. Overall, we have to give the price for design to the WD My Passport model, though there's nothing wrong with the Seagate Backup Plus in terms of its shape and size – it just looks a bit more boring.

WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus: features

WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus

The WD My Passport (left) and the Seagate Backup Plus (right).

(Image credit: WD / Seagate)

Perhaps the key difference between the WD My Passport and the Seagate Backup Plus external hard drives is that the WD model is USB powered – so you can just plug it into a laptop or desktop and get going – whereas the Seagate drive needs a separate mains power supply in addition to the connection to your computer. In terms of portability, the Western Digital model wins out.

External drives requiring their own power supply have advantages too though: they're typically faster, and offer greater capacities. In the case of our WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus comparison, the read and write speeds seem to be broadly the same, but you can get more space with the Seagate drive: it maxes out at a massive 14TB of capacity rather than the 5TB maximum offered by the WD unit.

Another advantage of a bigger, separately powered hard drive is that you can run other devices off it – and the Seagate Backup Plus comes with two USB-A ports on the front that let you connect up other accessories, like flash drives or card readers. Hook up a smartphone or a tablet, and you can charge them from the power coming through the Seagate model, something which you can't do with the WD My Passport.

Both these drives come with USB 3.0 ports, so in terms of connecting up to your desktop or laptop computer there's not much to choose between them. Both these drives come with basic backup software you can use to help you transfer files over from other locations, either included on the drive itself or available to download for free via the Western Digital and Seagate websites.

WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus: verdict

WD My Passport vs Seagate Backup Plus

The WD My Passport (left) and the Seagate Backup Plus (right).

(Image credit: WD / Seagate)

As we said at the outset, these are two of the best external hard drives that you can get hold of at the moment – whichever one you buy, you're going to be getting reliable external storage, fast transfer speeds, and plenty of room for your files and folders. Neither one of these models is going to let you down, which makes the decision of choosing between them a little bit easier – there's no 'wrong' choice really.

The main consideration here is that the WD My Passport runs entirely from a USB connection to your computer, so it's great for taking on the road with you and for quickly swapping between different desktops and laptops. It's also significantly smaller and lighter than the Seagate model, which again is an advantage if you're going to be using a lot while you're on the move between different places.

What you do get from the mains-powered Seagate Backup Plus is a lot more capacity, if you're willing to pay for it – all the way up to 14TB (though you might struggle to find some configurations). There's also the advantage of two USB ports on the front of the unit, which you can use in whatever way you want. If your drive is going to stay fixed in the same place, then maybe the Seagate option is the one to go for.

Pricing is something else to think about as well of course, and you can check the widgets embedded on this page for the cheapest deals currently available on the web. At the time of writing, the WD My Passport is slightly more expensive than the Seagate Backup Plus for the same capacity, because it packs its tech into a smaller package – but it's the case that whichever drive you go for, the more storage space you buy, the cheaper the price-per-gigabyte gets.

David Nield
David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.