Western Digital USB Hard Drives

Can someone please tell me how I am supposed to distinguish between all of these portable hard drives and all of the other portable hard drives out there on the market? They all have similar form factors and capacities, and yet have a wide variation of prices. I really do not understand how or why I should choose one over another.

Haven’t been in retail for some time now but I can give you a quick generalization.
-WD elements are usually just plain external hard drives, plug em in and they’ll show up as a blank volume (no software etc) NEEDS AC ADAPTER
-WD My Books are external hard drives that come with all sorts of utilities for diagnostics/reformatting/autobackup/etc. You can uninstall them if you want to. NEEDS AC ADAPTER
-WD Passports/Portable are the smaller portable version of the My books. They come with the same utilities just a in a 2.5" portable form factor that doesn’t need a extra power source (just 1 usb 3.0 cable)
-WD Elites are like the my books but they have a snazzy capacity display in front and have encryption for all data stored on the drive. STILL NEEDS AC ADAPTER
-MAC versions are just that, external hard drives that are already preconfigured (formatted) for MAC. You can reformat these drives to work for windows but with the capacities these days its really one or another. (go buy a big flash drive if you need to use it for both mac/windows)

Ask yourself 3 things. Will you take it around with you (yes=buying portable, finding another outlet is too big a hassle), How much capacity do you need, Do I need the backup/encryption software or will it just be a place to dump random pictures/junk.

As far as these go WD is just another brand. I usually trust WD and Seagate over the other brands especially for externals but its personal preference. The other brands usually follow the 3 tier model difference. Hope that helps a little!

The key items for me are 1) does it need a power cable, and 2) is it USB 3?

USB 3 is a major factor, as the speed is just so much better than USB 2.

The black passport is the same price on amazon for a new one. Cheaper if you have prime since you won’t be paying for shipping.

That’s an Ultra. Here’s the same thing on Amazon.

It’s pretty simple, really: If it’s refurbished and a hard-drive, don’t buy it. Not only will it be worthless once the warranty runs out, but you’re trusting this with your data. (Related: Always have more than one copy of something important.)

The marginal “savings” over a new product aren’t worth the added risk.