Recently, Bob Panick (https://www.facebook.com/bob.panick) responded to a Facebook post I made with a link to my article on using the My Passport Wi-Fi drive while we were on a recent trip (http://www.infotor.com/blog/backing-up-everyones-photos-to-the-wd-passport-wi-fi-drive-when-traveling/). He followed his comment with some questions that caused me to test some things I had not yet tested with this very handy little hard drive.
I thought our exchange would make a useful and informative article from which others considering this drive might benefit. So with Bob's permission, here we have it. Bob’s questions are in italics followed by my responses plus some additional information I make available for the benefit of this article
This particular Western Digital wi-fi drive comes in two flavors, a 1TB model and a 2TB model. The price that I paid for my 1TB drive was around $179 a few months ago, but I see that currently it is selling for only $162.32 (http://bit.ly/WDMyPassportTB) on Amazon USA. However, the 2TB drive is now only $190.16! I’d get the 2TB model now for sure! Here’s Bob’s and my exchange:
Bob: Bill, can you plug it into you PC using USB and see the SD card reader? Or do you let the Passport read the card then go look on the disk?
Bill: I’ll try the USB connection later, but I can "see" the My Passport Wi-Fi drive as a shared device and when I click on it, I can browse the drive's folders listed under "Public" as well as the contents of the inserted SD card. See attached screenshot.
Bob: I was kind of thinking, I could pop in the SD card, bring up Lightroom, and do the import into a catalog that just happened to be on the Passport. That would let me do some key wording of the images, and maybe a quick tagging of pictures worth further processing when I get home. The advantage of that is I don't have to bring an SD card reader that way. Alternative would be to have it read the card into the drive then import the files from the Passport.
Bill: OK, Bob, I just plugged drive via USB into my laptop and Wi-Fi light went off and power light turned from Blue (charged/powered) to White. I can no longer connect via Wi-Fi to the drive from my devices or the laptop. When thus connected (i.e., via USB and listed under "Devices"), I cannot see the inserted SD card, whereas I could when I was accessing it as a shared device over wi-fi. In this mode, I can only see the folders on the hard drive, but the JPG images from the SD card were imported automatically into their own folder so I can access them. I am testing this with the card from my Olympus Tough TG-3 so no RAW files. Will give it a spin later this evening with my E-M1 card with some RAW files on it. Bottom line, you could import the files copied from SD card into Lightroom.
Bob: One more question, can it charge from USB, or does it need the AC adapter?
Bill: Bob, RE charging, the manual only shows charging via USB plugged into wall outlet. I let the battery run down to 60% charge and plugged it via USB into my laptop and it did not charge!
Bill: Next Step: Took a RAW+JPG shot with E-M1 and inserted card into drive. With the drive plugged into power and broadcasting its SID, I clicked on it in Finder as a "Shared" device. Launched LR, clicked Import button, and both the SD card (see image) and the "Public" folders on drive showed up. So, answer: Yes, you can import RAW files into LR from the My Passport Wi-Fi drive over wi-fi. May be painfully slow, however. Since this worked, Bob, have to assume that having it directly connected to laptop would as well and would be, most likely, way faster.
Bob: Interesting comment about speed; it looks like the Passport has Wifi N, if your computer can do that too, you could in theory hit 300 Mb/s which is pretty close to the limits of the hard drive itself. So doing it over WiFi may not be all that much slower than using USB.
You actually probably have a couple of blogs here. You've already talked about using it with an iDevice, but how would it work with a laptop or even your workstation at home.
I know Derrick Story has been a proponent of traveling lighter using iPads instead of laptops. But not everyone can do that or may want to do that. I know several people, myself included, that stopped using iPads because the laptops got small enough and have a lot more power that it makes more sense to use them instead of a tablet. My Surface Pro only weights 2 lbs, and isn't much bigger than a tablet. The Apple thin laptops, and others from Lenovo are in the same weight range.
Bill: You may be correct, Bob, about speed. I'll have to give it a try. When I did a presentation on mobile photography (http://www.infotor.com/KIPC/) last fall soon after getting this drive, I also found that many in the audience were put off by not being able to retrieve RAW files via wi-fi, saying there was no way they were going to use JPG files. Don't want to start that photographic 'religious war,' but I'm of a different opinion, though I do sometimes shoot RAW as well.
Bob: BTW, I looked up the Passport specs, it has a 5200 RPM drive, so the WiFi should be able to keep up without too many problems. Note the word “should".
One of my own questions has to do with how SD card imports work with this drive. That is, I know how it works, but there was one aspect of copying images from a card to the drive that I had not tested. First, you can choose for the copying (or moving, if you prefer - this, though, erases the images from the card, which I prefer to do myself through a format of the SD card in-camera!) to happen automatically as soon as you insert the card in the SD slot on the drive. Or, you can choose to start this process manually. I have mine set to “Manual,” but it still copies the files onto the hard drive with no intervention from me. Curious. My question, though, has to do with how the drive handles images previously copied to it. I just tested this by taking a shot with my E-M1 in RAW+JPG then inserting the SD card in the drive slot, and returning the card to the camera. I then took two more shots on the same card. When I re-inserted this card into the drive’s SD slot and checked the SD Import folder, I discovered that the WD drive software handled the task perfectly. That is, it only copied the new images and not the previously imported image. Just as I had hoped!!
Bottom Line Take-Aways
- this wi-fi drive will let you import RAW file versions over wi-fi into your image editing app of choice on your laptop/desktop after you have copied the files from your SD card onto the drive or directly from the SD card, which you can see over wi-fi
- if you make a direct, USB connection to the drive, you can only see the contents of the folders within the “Public” area of the drive, not the SD drive
- each time you insert an SD card into the slot on the drive, only the newest images are copied to the drive, thus, it is a “smart” and creates no duplicates
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