The number of times I’ve talked to travelers who’ve lost all their photos, particularly near the end of their trip and on their way home is mind-boggling.
“Oh my god, my camera got stolen out of my bag!“
“I dropped my camera in a lake!”
“My computer went missing!”
“My hard drive crashed!”
“That monkey won’t give back my iPhone!”
It is amazing how easy it is to lose your trip photos while travelling abroad or even at home from a hard drive crash, etc. Having a backup system for these precious bits of data that capture our most prized memories is critical! Backing up documents and other personal things on a computer isn’t a bad idea either.
Electronics and gear can be insured, but nothing can bring back data if you don’t backup your photos.
While in Guatemala my computer crashed due to a virus. While this incident was a huge inconvenience, it wasn’t a heart stopping event in which I freaked out over the loss of 3 months worth of travel photos.
Everything had been backed up to my trusty Western Digital 1TB hard drive that I had mindfully thought to bring with me. That was of course until I managed to drop and kill it. Yes, I’m that brilliant.
Thankfully I had also copied all of my data back on to the Lexar SD Cards I was carrying for my camera. If all else failed, I would still have had a complete copy of all my photos, documents, favorites, and a whole host of other information backed up in the cloud – Just Cloud to be exact.
What is cloud storage? The long and short of it is you use a online company to store the contents of your hard drive, tablet, or phone in another location – some server and hard drive farm they have setup somewhere. This helps protect your data in the event of theft, high-tech monkeys, loss, stupidity, flood, fire, Godzilla, and any other natural disasters.
I looked at a lot of cloud storage options before I settled on Just Cloud. Just Cloud provides unlimited storage for a reasonable low monthly fee. Since I was taking my Olympus OM-D E-M5 with me and the photos it creates are huge – in 3 months I racked up 30 gigabytes of photos – I was sold. They also provide a free service if you only need a bit of space.
Uploading to Just Cloud is pretty damn simple; you have two options. If you don’t know much about computer and just want to make sure your stuff is safe, you can let it auto detect photos, documents and other important information. If you are more advanced, you can tell it what you want to backup which can even be your whole computer.
Once setup, the Just Cloud program runs in the background uploading the selected files to their servers. If you make changes to a file, Just Cloud knows and uploads the new version while also keeping the old one just in case. You can even delete information off your computer and it will still be in Just Cloud, just in case.
If you aren’t travelling with a computer you can still upload to Just Cloud by using a tablet, phone or via an internet café. I should note that while internet cafés were once ubiquitous on the travelers’ trail, they are disappearing with the growing availability of Wi-Fi .
Also, within the remaining internet café you will most likely find old computers that are painfully slow – my netbook has most of them beat hands down. While internet cafés are few and far between nowadays, the presence of Wi-Fi in even remote and developing countries such as Guatemala is pleasantly surprising; I’ve been able to backup my photos on a fairly regular basis to Just Cloud in nearly any hostel or café that has Wi-Fi. The access to internet and the speed of the upload is enough even given the amount of photos I take.
I would highly recommend Just Cloud for your backup needs while traveling and at home.
Portable Hard Drives
If you are working with video, work in remote regions, or just want everything accessible to you all the time, you can either get a computer with a really big hard drive or a separate portable hard drive. A portable hard drive is generally preferable as most small and light weight computers have limited hard drive space.
Using a portable hard drive to backup your photos would also be an option if you are just using a tablet (depending on the tablet), internet cafés or if you think you won’t be able to upload very often to the cloud and want an accessible backup with you.
As I mentioned earlier I was carrying a Western Digital 1TB hard drive. While this was a great device and I’d seriously consider getting another one again, I’d probably consider getting some sort of rugged case for it as a precaution. Otherwise, I would get a rugged hard drive like the ioSafe Rugged Portable, by all reports its one tough little device.
While hardware damage or defects are always a possibility when travelling or at home, I’d still recommend using Just Cloud even if you use a hard drive as part of your backup plan.
Memory Cards and USB Sticks
If you’re using a compact camera and not dealing with huge RAW files, making a copy to another memory card such as a Lexar SD Card or USB flash drive is a great option. The distinct advantage to this is they are smaller than a hard drives and depending on the size, cheaper too.
I would recommend a combination of a physical backup such as to a portable hard drive, extra memory cards or USB sticks, as well as a remote backup such as using Just Cloud as a means of protecting your valuable data and avoiding the story no traveler wants to tell, “I lost all my travel photos…”
Whatever method you chose to backup your photos is really a personal preference, but regardless of your method make sure you find a way that is easy and reliable so you will actually do it. I hope I don’t run into anymore travelers who’ve lost their photos.
Storage options I use for different purposes, sign up for free with these links:
- Just Cloud – Backup and Unlimited Storage
- GDrive from Google – great for documents while on the go.
- Dropbox – Also a good cloud storage option, however it can be much more expensive for high volume storing.
Have a horror story or advice of your own for travelers and their photos? Share it in the comments below.