When it comes to backing photos up, many people seem to have a fly by night, devil-may-care attitude. “It’ll never happen to me” or “I’m careful with my phone/camera that I take them on.” are common sentiments. And I must admit, up until a few months ago when we received the proverbial kick up the backside, that was how we thought.
Let’s face it, backing up your photos is not a “sexy” subject and it’s not a task that’s easy to get excited about. It’s much easier to keep pushing it to the bottom of the to do list and just try to forget about it. And yet if you’re a travel blogger, or even a traveller who doesn’t blog, it is without question something that you should really be devoting a fair amount of time to.
So to take the bother out of this boring necessity, we’ve done all the research for you. Here is a look at how to best backup your photos, and why you should:
Why You Should Back Your Photos Up
If you actually need any convincing that this is in fact a great idea, then look no further than our own cautionary story. We learnt the hard way when within 3 weeks of each other, both of our iPhones broke meaning we lost a significant amount of highly valued stuff. We’re talking a huge number of photos and videos, blog post ideas, destination notes, contact numbers for people we’d met along the way, amongst other things.
We even had a backup system in place, but after 6 months on the road and extremely slow internet speeds, we got a little complacent. We began slacking and only backing up sporadically, then disaster struck.
It came in the form of one Apple logo of death and one alcohol related, toilet vs phone incident (the toilet won unfortunately). With hindsight, we actually consider ourselves quite lucky because it was only our phones, and without our backup routine (however intermittent it was) we could have lost absolutely every piece of data we’d saved over 2016. Do you need any more reasons?
Methods of Photo Backup
Laptop or Tablet
As a blogger we’re pretty sure you’ll own a laptop, but as a travel blogger you may have prioritised its weight over its storage capacity. However, if you have sufficient memory then a laptop is still a good first port of call for backing up your photos. Simply upload and store on your laptop hard drive.
Similarly, you can do this with most tablets but you may need a special cable to upload photos directly from a memory card.
Remember though, laptops and tablets do break, are targets for thieves and are easy to leave somewhere never to be seen again.
Portable External Hard Drive
These are a relatively easy way of backing up your data and many are now both lightweight and small in size. If you have a Mac, an external hard drive also makes it super easy to use the Time Machine automatic backup function. You simply plug it in via USB and the programme does the rest.
The hard drive option is perfect if you don’t have access to fast, reliable internet, but they are renowned for breaking so it’s definitely not infallible and you may be best served backing up to more than one at the same time.
SD and Micro SD cards are an extremely handy and space-saving way to back up photos. They’re also a pretty safe bet, with many new ones being virtually indestructible. They also have capacity to hold a lot of data so just a few should be adequate for this method.
Some newer DSLR cameras even have capacity to back up two cards at the same time so you’ll automatically have a second copy.
However, it’s very easy to misplace memory cards due to their small size and there’s also the potential for them to be stolen.
Essentially a NAS drive allows you to create your own personal cloud storage that multiple people can access wirelessly via the internet. You can set it up to use RAID mirroring so it stores multiple copies of your data across numerous drives in the event of one failing.
This is perfect if you have a continuous home base where you travel from because you need somewhere to actually store the hardware and an internet network that it is continuously connected to.
Not so great if you’re a perpetual nomad.
Cloud Based Backup
There are dozens of these available now, some of them offering up to 50GB of free storage, others that you pay a monthly or yearly subscription for unlimited storage. Many have different features like backing up all data, not just photos, so it’s important to choose the correct service for you.
This is a good choice for backing up mobile phones as you can set photos to automatically upload when connected to Wi-Fi. Again, this method requires good internet connection as uploading photos over bad Wi-Fi is time-consuming and painfully slow.
Beware, not all cloud storage services are made equal with some going down on a regular basis, potentially leaving you without access to your photos.
Rules of Backing Up
Regardless of what method you choose to use, there are two key rules you need to follow:
Backup at Least Twice – This is a standard rule of thumb for any backup process. Choose two of the methods above and do them both at the same time, ideally so the backups are in two different places i.e one physical, one cloud based. If it’s super important to you then backup more than twice!
It could be tempting to just back up to a hard drive, but if the hard drive goes kaput then you may as well have not backed up at all.
Backup regularly – Put a reminder in your diary to do it weekly at a minimum, but ideally nightly. This could vary depending on where you are and what you’re doing, for example If you’re on a once in a lifetime trip to Iceland then definitely perform your backup routine every day.
Imagine you manage to catch the Northern Lights but lose all the irreplaceable photographic evidence of that incredible experience. Conversely, if you’re having a chill couple of weeks on the beach then it may not be so important to back up those photos of you sipping beers in the sun.
Whatever backup method you choose, it’s important to make sure you actually do it and get into a routine that suits you. We can tell you from personal experience, and you’ll know if it’s ever happened to you, that it’s devastating when you lose photos. After all, they form part of your memories. Now you have the knowledge, there’s no excuse to take the risk.