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I recently wrote 10 Tips to Avoid Being Robbed While Travelling but today I wanted to go into how to protect your precious photo’s.  For me the three most important items when you travel are Passport,  Bank cards (Access to money) and my photo’s, I would even argue that out of all those things my photo’s are the most important as a passport and bank cards can be replaced where as photo’s cannot.

photos

Being robbed or losing your valuables is bad enough but there is no worse feeling than losing month’s of irreplaceable photo’s when it could have been avoided by simply following a few simple photo/data storage strategies.

While I was lucky enough to never be robbed or lose any SD Cards or hard drives during my travels. If I had been it wouldn’t have been a big deal as I had multiple storage backup’s in place. I hope that this post will encourage more traveller’s to backup their data safely so your photo’s make it back home with you.

In this post I will go over the 6 top photo storage strategies to backup your photo’s and will discussthe pros and cons of each. While each of these strategies help’s to backup your photo’s I would suggest using multiple methods to backup to best ensure that you and your photo’s make it home safely.

6. Backup your photos on a laptop

laptop

 Pro’s
  • Lots of Hard drive space to backup your photo’s
  • Generally kept in safe place when travelling such as locker or in hotel room
  • Ability to edit and delete photo’s on the road to maximize space.
  • Allows you to do other things on your laptop such as skype,browse web etc as well as backup photos

Con’s 

  • Laptops are very fragile and could easily get broken especially if you are backpacking which could result in all data being lost
  • Big target for thieves and has more chance of being stolen compared to smaller items such as SD Cards,USB Sticks or portable hard drives.
  • Bulky to carry around and not really practical if you just want to use it as a storage solution
  • Expensive compared to other storage devices.

Conclusion

Backing up your photo’s on your laptop is great to do providing that you have other reason’s to bring your laptop eg. photo editing,Skyping, Searching web, Working etc. As a stand alone photo storage device it’s pretty bulky and out of everything on this list is most likely to get stolen. I use a

HP Laptop Envy 14″touchsmart

5. Backup your photos on a portable hard drive 

portable hard drive

Pro’s

  • Small lightweight and easy to fit into your day pack or carry on luggage.
  • Can easily plug it into other peoples/hostels computers wherever you are.
  • Relatively cheap compared to the cost of a laptop.
  • Access data offline .

Con’s

  • Fragile and can break and lose all of your data if dropped or exposed to water.
  • Although a lot smaller and lightweight compared to a laptop it’s still pretty big compared to SD Cards and USB making it harder to conceal.
  • Need to have access to a computer to copy your data from your camera SD Card to backup photo’s.

Conclusion

Portable hard drive’s are great they are light weight hold a lot of data and are perfect for your primary backup device of your photo’s providing you have regular access to computers to transfer data from your SD cards to hard drive. If you are backpacking I would recommend buying a

cheap neoprene case to help protect it from damage. I’ve got a
Western Digital portable hard drive but if you want some super rugged try the
LaCie Rugged Portable Hard Drive

4. Mail photo data home

mailbox

Image credit wiccked

Pro’s 

  • Very little chance of it being stolen .
  • Once it’s arrived safely home you know it’s safe from thieves or being broken.
  • Excitement of opening lots of little data packages when you get home.

Con’s

  • Could get lost in the post.
  • You don’t have access to data on your SD Card/
USB stick for the rest of your trip as you sent it home.
  • Cost’s more money as you have to pay for postage and new storage devices to send home.
  • Conclusion

    While I have never done this I have met travellers who swear by it. I don’t see any problem with doing this. However I would reccomend having other ways of backing up your photos as a backup till you atleast know the package has safely been recieved on the other side.

    3. Upload Photo’s To Facebook As Travel

    facebook

    Pro’s 

    • Once data is uploaded it isn’t going anywhere and cant be lost or stolen.
    • Unlimited storage capacity.
    • Your data is accessible from anywhere in the world as long as you have net access.
    • Can share photo’s with your friends and family as you travel.
    • Absolute peace of mind.

    Con’s

    • Need to have access to internet with decent upload speed to upload photo’s.
    • Can’t access data unless you have internet access.
    • Have to download photo’s locally every time you want to edit them.
    • Loss in quality and resolution of images when  uploaded to facebook.

    Conclusion

    Uploading to facebook is a great way to share your photo’s with your friends while having them backed up, However the loss in quality is a real deal breaker for me to use this as my primary back up choice for my photo’s. I would however advise people who don’t want to pay for a cloud service  to upload their photo’s to facebook instead, so atleast then if you lose all other copies of your photo’s  you still have a lower resoloution copy available online.

    2. Store your photo’s on seperate SD cards and store these somewhere safe like a money belt.

    SD Card

    Image credit dennissylvesterhurd

    Pro’s

    • USB and SD cards are really small and easy to conceal in your money belt or pockets from thieves.
    • Super lightweight and inexpensive.
    • Allows you to easily backup your data across multiple small USB/SD cards so that if one dies you haven’t lost everything just what was on that one storage device.
    • Can still use the SD cards in your camera if you need to.
    • Easily read by a
    SD reader or usb in a computer.

    Con’s

    • Very small and easy to misplace.
    • Doesnt have large storage capacity compared to laptop/portable hard drive.

    Conclusion

    This would have to be my favorite method to back up my photo’s. I personally travel with over 5 SD cards, They are really small, light weight and while they don’t have the capacity that a laptop or portable hard drive have, you can pick up multiple

    SD Cards cheap. I backed up all photo’s taken from my 4.5 months in Latin America taken on my DSLR on 3x16GB sticks. I love how easy they were to keep safe,  I would often keep them in my
    Eagle Creek money belt with my passport and money when travelling.

    1. Cloud based storage such as drop box and upload your photos online

    Cloud Storage

    Image credit Ilamont

    Pro’s 

    • Once data is uploaded it isn’t going anywhere and cant be lost or stolen.
    • Unlimited storage capacity. (Providing your willing to pay for it)
    • Your data is accessible from anywhere in the world as long as you have net access.
    • Can give multiple people access to your data.
    • Absolute peace of mind.

    Con’s

    • Requires that you have access to reliable fast internet to upload your photo’s to the cloud.
    • Limited space unless you pay an ongoing fee to store higher amounts of data.
    • Can’t access data unless you have internet access.
    • Have to download photo’s locally everytime you want to edit them.

    Conclusion

    Cloud based storage is the best way in my opinion to back up your photo’s when travelling IF you regularly have access to high speed reliable internet and either only plan on storing a small amount of photo’s so you don’t have to pay a monthly premium for more space.Even with the added cost for extra space I still think it’s worth it for complete peace of mind.

    Having said that When I was in Latin America finding reliable consistent internet made this method very difficult and it was nearly impossible to keep my drop box up to date with all the photo’s as I was taking them.

    Taking photo Sunny coast

    So what should you use?

    I think personally that if you can get access to high enough speed internet and you want absolute peace of mind you should be using a cloud based service, even if you do have to pay a bit of a premium. However If you don’t want to pay this premium you can use a combination of the methods listed above. For example when I travel I have photo’s backed up on Laptop,Portable Hard Drive and SD Cards and use Drop box when internet permits.

    I carry my laptop in my day pack, put my portable hard drive in the bottom of my main backpack and the SD Cards go into my money belt, Giving me the biggest chance of not losing atleast one of them.

    What is your preferred photo storage strategy? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

    2017-08-29T01:43:00+00:00 1 Comment

    One Comment

    1. Mig August 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm - Reply

      Backing up on the cloud would be the best, but as you mentioned finding good internet in developing countries can be tricky. I use a combination of SD cards, computer, back up harddrive, and cloud. It’s a bit excessive, but better safe than sorry.
      Mig recently posted..Never stop searchingMy Profile

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