Photo Backup Strategy While Travelling

Hi there pho­tog­ra­phy lovers!

It’s been a while since my last post and pod­cast and  I hope to make up for it– shortly.
I’m lucky enough to be trav­el­ling on a pho­tog­ra­phy hol­i­day right now (I’m in Prague, CZ) and because this is a photo hol­i­day, the pho­tographs I am tak­ing are pre­cious and irre­place­able. I’d like to think that most seri­ous pho­tog­ra­phers feel the same way and so I thought I’d share my photo backup strat­egy while trav­el­ling. 

Bubbles, Kids and the Tyn Church - Prague CZ

Bub­bles, Kids and the Tyn Church — Prague CZ

Let me say up front that I am not upload­ing my RAW files to ‘the cloud’ — because upload­ing huge files (30 megs per file in my case) only works well when you have a super fast con­nec­tion and a fast com­puter. Even then, it can take a looooong time to upload 50–100 files. So far I have been to Lon­don, Paris, Ams­ter­dam and Prague. The wifi con­nec­tions, on aver­age, have been spotty every­where I have been. (I’ve been using qual­ity airbnb’s but so far my wifi has never ever been flaw­less). There­fore, upload­ing is out of the ques­tion and I’m basi­cally going old school.

Here’s my sim­ple method; The mem­ory cards that hold the files (I brought 4 cards of 32 GB each) NEVER leave my sight. They are with me 100% of the time and eas­ily fit into my pocket at all times when not inside my cam­era at my side. When my cam­era is not by my side, the cards are removed and go in my pocket.

In addi­tion, I backup those files to a small portable West­ern Dig­i­tal 2GB drive that I pur­chased for 79 dol­lars before I left. It’s around the size of a pack of 25 cig­a­rettes. Then I usu­ally hide that drive some­where in the room I’m stay­ing. This method is quite fast and effi­cient and it makes me feel safe. There would have to be 2 cat­a­stro­phes for me to lose my data.

One last thing to note — You need a decent lap­top com­puter to do this kind of thing. Tablets and Ipads are pure JUNK for photo editing.

If any­one has addi­tional sug­ges­tions to share — I’d love to hear them. Thanks and many more pics to fol­low when I return.

Backup your photos — CLONING your hard drive

There is no com­puter mal­func­tion as dev­as­tat­ing as los­ing the con­tents of your hard drive. This can hap­pen due to a virus, or a hard­ware or soft­ware mal­func­tion. Back­ing up your com­puter reg­u­larly is a must and there are sev­eral ways to do it. The most com­mon way is to use a pro­gram that breaks up the con­tents of your hard drive into chunks and save it on another exter­nal hard drive. In case of hard drive fail­ure, you can rebuild your old drive with those chunks.

Thatžs not the way I like to do it as my first line of defense. I con­fess, I still do backup that way as well, but itžs not my pri­mary way. Call me neu­rotic or squea­mish but I donžt like chunks.

If my hard drive fails and I have some­thing impor­tant to do, I want to have an EXACT COPY of my hard drive already saved. I donžt want to have to rebuild any­thing or look for a disk to reboot my com­puter with the saved chun­ked data. It should still work of course (as long as the inter­nal hard drive is not irrepara­bly dam­aged) and even­tu­ally you have to deal with the com­put­eržs prob­lem inter­nal drive, but who wants an ulcer? Frankly Ižll pay a wee bit for piece of mind.

The answer is to make a clone, a copy, or an exact intact image of your hard drive. That way, I can just take my exter­nal drive (which is a clone of my desk­top) attach it to old 50 dol­lar lap­top via USB and boom ‚” my whole com­puter shows up as a new drive on my lap­top. No need to look for any disks or reassem­ble chunks and ZERO down­time and zero lost files.‚

Herežs how I do it. I buy an exter­nal drive that is the exact same size as my com­put­eržs inter­nal drive. That way when I clone the drive, I clone it exactly. You should know that that backup exter­nal drive can ONLY be used for backup in this way. You canžt save other files on that exter­nal drive, you can only save the clone of your inter­nal hard drive. Each time you re-backup your com­puter onto that exter­nal, it deletes the pre­vi­ous backup. My 500 gig inter­nal drive takes about 1.5 hours to clone onto the West­ern Dig­i­tal 500 gig exter­nal drive (which costs $130.00 dol­lars 3 monts ago) via firewire (you can of course use USB).

There are many pro­grams that can do this but the one I use and like best is Acro­nis True Image 11. It costs about 50 dol­lars and you can try it for free. When you load it up youžll see dif­fer­ent choices on how to backup. To clone your hard drive DO NOT CHOOSE BACKUP AND RESTORE. That option backs up your hard drive in chunks. Instead choose DISK UTILITIES and then Clone Disk. I use man­ual mode after that and fol­low the prompts care­fully and I MAKE SURE TO ‹“KEEP DATAž WHEN IT ASKS HOW I WANT TO MODIFY MY OLD DRIVE AND I CHOOSE ‹“AS ISž (because both dri­ves are the exact same size) when it asks how I want to move data from the old to new drive.

The other pro­gram I am some­what famil­iar with that does just about the same thing is Nor­ton Ghost. Again to make an exact copy of your drive (non-chunk) donžt choose Back it up now, instead choose Copy My Hard drive (advanced) and fol­low the prompts very carefully.

Using either of these meth­ods gives you the peace of mind that even if your hard drive crashes in a ter­ri­ble way, you can still work from a new com­puter by plug­ging your exter­nal into it. Obvi­ously, youžll need to copy or clone your inter­nal drive reg­u­larly to have the fresh­est copy. If you have irre­place­able pho­tos and other files on your inter­nal hard drive, it is also safest to burn them to CD or DVD.