Over the weekend I was investigating what technology was available for backing up digital photos while travelling. It’s a long time since our round the world trip, which is when I last looked into such things. Back then I found a HDD caddy/card reader combo that would backup the contents of a variety of memory cards at the push of a button, which worked reasonably well and provided a home for an old laptop drive I had spare.
Sadly it’s not for my holiday but, thanks to a few hints from Ken, Nigel and Iain on twitter, here’s the short list:
- Take a laptop: bulky equipment to lug about and susceptible to theft.
- Card reader/HDD combo: there doesn’t seem to be many options in this category any more, perhaps because they look comparatively expensive now that memory card prices are lower. Not as bulky as a laptop but still something else taking up luggage space.
- USB On-The-Go bridge: much like the last option, although potential to use a USB sticks instead of a hard disk. Not much to choose from here either unfortunately, and no decent looking ones that I could find.
- On-line backups: doesn’t seem that practical while travelling, at least not without some effort tracking down internet access, possibly back to taking a laptop/netbook, unless Eye-Fi does the job that is. On the plus side, if anything gets stolen you wouldn’t lose any photos that were already uploaded.
- Just buy more memory cards: not a backup as such, but less chance of losing all the photos. Much more affordable than before too, so backing up to free up space on the memory card isn’t such an issue, which may explain why some of the alternatives seem less common now.
- Shoot with film as well: a great suggestion from Jenny, although it does involve taking more than one camera, and getting the photos developed! The negatives might make a good long term backup once you get home too.
Taking a few cards seems like the easiest approach but, even though the risk of losing all your holiday snaps is small, I still don’t exactly trust technology. So here’s my suggestion for camera manufacturers: dual memory card slots. For the paranoid these could be configured to store every photo on both cards for an immediate backup, and for trigger happy snappers it would mean more storage before swapping cards. Win win.
It should also be possible to provide adapters for a lot of existing cameras that would do the same thing; something not too dissimilar to a RAID 1 version of a PhotoFast Compact Flash adapter for example. Does such a thing exist already, or do you have any other suggestions for backing up digital photos on the move?
Photo © Jorge Quinteros cc by-nc-sa 2.0
Updated: added the retro film option! (11 March 2011)