Travel photography… I’ve done many trips with my camera gear over the years, and always struggled to find the best way to safely back up my photos. In the past I’ve usually resorted to carrying my Macbook laptop, and a stack of blank DVDs or USB thumb drives. My process was to upload the images to the laptop, then create a second backup to either DVD or thumb drive. This works fine, except it means carrying a laptop & power supply on trips where I honestly would rather do without the extra weight, and also the risk of damage to the machine itself.
An alternative is to purchase an external HD device that has a memory card reader built in, designed specifically for backing up images while on the road. These are excellent, but can be quite expensive, and are really only good for that single purpose.
Recently, after a bit of research, I’ve come up with a new backup solution. Here it is…
First…I am shooting with a Fuji XT2. The beauty of this camera (and others like it) are the dual SD card slots. This means I can choose to save 2 copies of every image I take, using the second card slot as backup. When the card is full, I can store the second card away, and have an instant backup. Awesome. no extra effort, and relatively cheap & light way to store the images. But what about a secondary backup? There is always the risk of loss or damage to the cards.
Here is a list of what you see…Android phone. Powered USB HUB. External USB HDD (WD My Passport). Memory card reader. And importantly… A USB OTG(on-the-go) cable. It it the cable that has a micro USB to a female USB connection, and allows the Android device to connect to any of these devices. The cables are very cheap. I found mine on Amazon for only a few dollars.
I have a Samsung Android phone, and have installed a program called ‘Total Commander‘. This app allows you to transfer files from one folder to another, or from your internal storage to built in microSD storage. There is a plugin for the app called ‘USBstick plugin‘ that can recognize external devices such as USB sticks, external HDD, and momery cards (SD, CF, etc).
Here is an image of the app, showing the external HDD and the memory card as USB Drive ‘A’ & ‘B’.
Within the app, I am able to see the contents of both external devices, and move anything from one to the other. This means I can copy my raw files from the SD card directly to the external HD, creating a second backup of my images, without needing a computer to transfer the files. You can see in the next images how I can see both devices simultaneously on the app screen:
Now I find that the app isn’t the most intuitive, but I was quickly able to figure out how to setup the transfer. I’ve seen other people that have done similar setups, but there is a need to ‘Root’ their Android device in order to get it to work. This is not something that just anyone would want to do, as it is slightly more complicated, and risky, so this solution works great for the less technically inclined (like myself). One thing I discovered is that I needed to format the external HD to FAT format in order for it to show up. I also have found that I need to connect the external devices to the powered HUB first, then connect my phone with the USB OTG cable and open the app.
So there you have it. A light weight, relatively inexpensive backup solution for storing your images while traveling. I’m excited to take this setup with me on an upcoming trip to Germany & France. Some other benefits of this system is I can access the images from my Android device anytime, so I can share a few online here and there as I travel, without needing a computer. As well, when I get back home, I can connect the HD to my computer and get to work on the real editing without needing to transfer files at all!
I hope you find this setup useful & I’d be glad to hear of your own travel photography backup solutions on the road & traveling light tips for photographers! Keep posted to the blog, as I’ll be sharing a custom camera backpack I’m putting together soon. Cheers!
There is a product I’ll be trying out on my next long trip. It is the Western Digital Passport Pro WIFI HDD. It is an external hard drive, with a built-in SD card reader, so you can automatically backup your files from the card directly to the hard drive.. It also can act as a backup battery to power your phone, and has an app you setup on your phone that allows you to view & transfer files from the drive to your phone. So you can share images online right away. You can even preview raw files with the app. Not only that, but you can upload anything onto it, so if you want to store a movie or two for the trip, no problem. Load them on there & they can be accessed via the app. Amazing! I can’t wait to test this out.
you can find these devices RIGHT HERE on Amazon, and they come in 1,2,3 & 4 TB versions. This will be a serious simplification of the backup on the go process!!!
*Speaking of travel…
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Want to read about my DIY camera backpack solution? Check it out right here: DIY Camera Backpack
Want to get in touch? you can do so RIGHT HERE.