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Since we travel a lot, backing up our photos is one of our biggest challenges. In this post we will show you how to protect ourselves against the loss of our pictures and give you our best tips for backing up pictures.
Before we set off on our great journey, we broke our heads:
How are we supposed to keep all our photos safe on the go? What if our laptop is stolen or our memory cards break?
There is little worse for any travel photographer than to lose the pictures of several weeks or even months irretrievably.
That’s why we want to show you in this post how we store our photos while traveling and what security precautions we have taken. And since there are of course several ways to back up photos on the go, we’ll show you a few alternatives.
Save pictures while travelling: Where is the problem at all?
Honestly, we’ve never really been involved in backing up photos while travelling. Most of the time we were only on the road for a week or two. Then we simply packed enough memory cards and trusted that they would not break. It may have been a bit naive, but fortunately it has always gone well.
However, since we work anywhere and are therefore not only on the road for a few weeks, but all year round, this is no longer an option for us. Before our first 6-month trip through Southeast Asia, we worked intensively on the topic.
Since we store our photos in RAW format, an image is 20 or 30 megabytes in size. In six months, a lot of data will come together, so we probably would have had to take a whole box of memory cards with us.
Even if we weren’t travelling with hand luggage, a box of memory cards would definitely not be on our packing list.In addition, memory cards are not the most reliable storage medium. Such a small thing has been lost quickly and as we had to experience only recently, a memory card can also break sometimes. But more on that later.
I think we agree that a better plan is needed to secure photos while traveling. And we’ll show you that now. Our equipment for backing up photos on the go.
Even after our return from Asia, we usually limit ourselves to travelling with hand luggage. Thus, not only our packing list for European destinations is reduced to the essentials, but also our travel photo equipment, which can be described as minimalist in good conscience.
Nevertheless, the technology makes up a large part of our complete luggage. But hey, keeping pictures safe is about everything.
To secure our images, we need the following 5 ingredients:
After years, oh what: decades, as a Windows user, we have been Macbook owners since 2015. Despite our initial dislike, we are now very satisfied and don’t want to miss our little workanimals any more.
The image editing program our choice is Lightroom. Because it is not only great for editing the RAW files, but also helps us to manage, sort and above all sort out photos.
We use the monthly subscription of Creative Cloud, as we also need Photoshop for 22places. There is a photography subscription that includes Lightroom and Photoshop and costs 11.89 euro/month.
External hard drives
We have several external hard drives with us for data backup:
1 We always have a 1TB transcend hard drive with a special shock protection. Precisely because of its robustness, we chose the Transcend, which is also available in a 2 TB version.
2 In addition, we have two 500 GB SSD hard drives from SanDisk with us, each of which we work directly on the Macbook. On one are our photos, as well as our Lightroom library(s) and on the other videos and the respective Final Cut Pro libraries.
The advantage is that we can work directly from the plates and that they are so incredibly small. And this at a price of about 115 euros.
We have eight 32 GB SD cards with us on our travels. Basically, you can buy SD cards almost anywhere in the world and even in Asia in every small supermarket, which is why you can get a quick replacement at any time.
Online data storage
No matter how many computers, hard drives and SD cards we have with us, if our luggage is stolen or a water damage is damaged or exploded or whatever, then everything is gone. That’s why an external data store is extremely important to us.
So we also store our photos online. There are several ways to do this, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. We use our own webspace, which we have forcibly created through our websites. More information will be available later.
Now that you know what we have in it to back up our photos, we can now move on to the next step. We will now explain exactly how we save our photos.
Our workflow for saving photos while traveling
We have now found a more or less defined workflow for us, which we use to sort and save our photos while travelling.
Step 1: Consciously photograph
An important step happens before we even take a photo: Think! Since we know from our own experience how exhausting it is to sort 5,000 photos after a week, we have now moved on to taking fewer photos.
Waaaas? Maybe you think now, we’ve gone completely mad. Of course not, we know ourselves only far too well and know that many photos would remain unsorted and unedited if the mountain of pictures becomes too big.
That’s why we now take pictures even more consciously than before. We think more about how we want to stage a motif and don’t get wild on it. The latter, however, should never be done anyway.
This not only means that at the end of the day we have a lot less photos on our memory cards, the photos we take are also simply better at the end.
Of course, it happens from time to time that we both come back in the evening with 300 photos each on the memory card. This is where we come to the next step.
Step 2: Regularly view and sort out photos
Step 2 still causes us the most problems, simply because we are often a little too careless. Our goal is to view and sort out the photos of a day every evening or at least the next day.
Sometimes it works quite well, but it still happens that we accumulate photos for over a week and then stand in front of a huge mountain of pictures.
When sorting, we do the following: We import all photos into Lightroom one day or even a week and copy them to one of our external hard drives.
Afterwards we look at all the photos together and sort out hard. Basti is usually a bit more rigorous than Jenny, but in the end less than half of the photos remain.
By the way, we do the sorting out with the great flags in Lightroom. All rejected images receive a black flag and are deleted immediately after sorting.
We delete the photos not only from Lightroom, but also directly from the hard drive. Overall, we need much less storage space.
Step 3: Double secured holds better
In the next step, we copy all photos from one external hard drive to the other, so that we always have two complete backups of our photos with us. If one of the hard drives gives up the ghost, we still have all the pictures on the other.
Step 4: Triple secured keeps even better
But if both hard drives break or are stolen, we are completely naked. So figuratively.
That’s why we store the sorted and well-found photos online again.
There are a lot of providers where you get online storage space. We simply store our pictures on our own server. In this way, our photos are always stored in a safe place and we can access them from all over the world.
Of course, uploading large image files is not possible everywhere. In Thailand this works relatively well, in the Philippines rather less. With the internet connection there, we are happy if we can check our e-mails from time to time.
Read Also: 10 tips for photography beginners
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of having their own server. However, there are many providers where you get online storage for free or for little money.
The best-known providers are probably Google Drive or Dropbox, which we both use.
Both offer free storage, Dropbox 2GB and Google Drive 15GB. Of course, this is not much for storing RAW files, but you can buy additional storage space from both providers.
With Dropbox, you’ll get 1 TB of storage for 9.99 dollars a month, or 99 dollars per year. On Google Drive, 1 TB also costs 9.99 dollars a month.
Free storage on Amazon
One of our readers gave us another great tip. Amazon offers unlimited online photo storage for all Prime members, which also applies to most RAW file formats.
Among others, the RAW formats of Nikon (.nef), Canon (.cr2) and Sony (.arw) are supported.
A Prime membership costs 49 euros a year and also includes thousands of movies for free streaming, countless free Kindle ebooks and, of course, always ultra-fast shipping for all Amazon orders. Of course, this is worth it!
Conclusion: There is no absolute security for photos
With this workflow, we feel pretty safe. Of course, we may still lose the photos before we could upload them to our online storage. Then we were just unlucky.
However, much more security is not possible in Asia, as the upload speeds are usually reminiscent of the times of a 56k modem. So far, everything has gone well and we hope that will continue to be the case. In Europe, of course, it is much easier to back up the images online.
Excursion: Protect memory cards
We mentioned at the beginning of the article that we had recently had experience with a broken memory card. That’s really not nice.
Some photos suddenly showed funny colorful stripes and we were already afraid that Jenny’s camera would give up the ghost. After some research, however, we identified the memory card as an offender and something like that is probably not so rare.
Memory cards are also sensitive media and something can break. With some precautions, however, you can at least significantly reduce the risk:
Tip 1: Don’t just throw memory cards in your pocket
Ok, this tip should be taken for granted, although we ourselves did not treat memory cards with particular care in the past. When you buy memory cards, there is often a small plastic case. Use them!
If you want it to be a bit more classy or you’d rather have a case for all memory cards, rather than many individual cases, you can also buy a great memory card case.
We use a very compact storage solution that fits 4 memory cards each.
Tip 2: Never delete pictures on camera
Most of the time, you look at an image directly on the camera display after pressing the shutter button. If it is crooked, shaky, too bright or too dark, or has a wrong image cutout, then the Delete button is quickly pressed.
If it doesn’t necessarily have to be: Leave it! Sort the images better only on the computer. Deleting images directly on the camera increases the likelihood of data errors.
Tip 3: Always format your memory card after inserting it
After you have transferred your pictures to the computer or to the external hard drive, you should completely empty your memory card.
To minimize the risk of data errors, you should format your memory card every time you put it back into the camera.
But becareful: always make sure you’ve backed up all the pictures. If the memory card has been formatted, it is empty!
No computer on the go? There are alternatives.
Not every traveler has a laptop in their luggage and can back up their photos to an external hard drive in this way.
Of course, there’s still one way you can backup your photos: hard drives with W-Lan.
We recommend the HARD drive of WD, which has 1 or 2 TB of storage space. The hard drive has an SD card reader built in, so you don’t need a computer to back up the images from your camera to the hard drive.
The transfer is easy by plugging your SD card into your hard drive and having access to the images with a included app for your smartphone. Sounds brilliantly simple and it is.
If you are travelling without a computer, this is an excellent alternative to still back up your pictures.
How do you view your photos while traveling?
We found the perfect workflow for us to back up our photos on the go. We’re still curious to see how you do that. Tell us what hardware you use and how to save your images when you travel.