Last Updated | 3rd February 2023
In today’s technological world, it’s easy to capture memories in the form of photos and videos while we travel. Doing so gives us a great way to look back on past trips and relive the amazing time we had. Additionally, with the explosion of social media being able to post this content is often just as important. After all, how else are you meant to show everyone back home what an amazing time you’re having? But what if the worst should happen and your phone/camera/laptop is damaged, lost or stolen? Aside from the financial loss, the sentimental value of the memories stored on these devices is often far more valuable than the device itself. In this post we cover the best ways backup your photos, video and important documents should the worse ever happen.
Things to Consider
There are numerous options for backing up media files while travelling and the best approach is often to use a combination of some, if not all, outlines below. However, before we get to that, it’s worth noting that the backup methods you do opt to use, are often stipulated by various offsetting factors.
File size: A smartphone photo will typically land around 6MB in size whereas a RAW high-quality camera photo would average upwards of 25MB. In contrast, a 1-minute HD video file can be between 60 – 130 MB depending on the file compression. Whereas 4k video files of that duration can get up to 300-400 MB. When you then start to add in higher frame rates etc, the size of the file can get very large, very quickly. It’s therefore worth thinking whether you’ll just be backing up standard quality photos and a few videos, or you’re planning to vlog and capture your whole trip in stunning 4k.
Internet connectivity: If you are going to a developed country or somewhere you know you’ll have access to high-speed quality internet, this can be a massive advantage. The opposite end of the spectrum is a trip into wild, isolated and remote landscapes, where not even dial-up broadband is on offer.
Equipment available: Are you going to be taking a laptop with you? Are you happy sacrificing space in your luggage for portable hard drives etc? Or do you want to travel light and have as must luggage space for your favourite t-shirts? An additional consideration here is what type of gadget will you be capturing your media files on. Will this simply be your smartphone, which easily connects to the internet and cloud storage services? Or are you capturing your media on equipment such as GoPro, Drones and Cameras which store the files on SD cards?
Duration of the trip: The longer you’re away the more thoughtfully you’ll need to plan. If you’re going to be away for a long period of time, it means you’ll capture more media over that period and that will need to be stored. If you’re only going for a short trip, you’ll need to worry about this far less. Safe in the knowledge that you’ll have further backup options when you return home.
Having considered the above point, below are the practical ways to store, backup and protect your precious travel memories.
Cloud storage is ubiquitous nowadays, with free or incredibly cheap options available. Big-name players such as Google, Microsoft and Apple all offer great cloud-based services, with choice a matter of personal preference, combined with the make of devices you have. With things being stored in the cloud there is no worry of media getting lost or stolen and is one of the best options when it comes to backup. Additionally, you can use automatic backup features, to ensure your latest files are always secure.
There are drawbacks though. If you have a large amount of data to backup, due to the size and quantity of your media files, you might run into issues. The first being the amount of space you have available to you in the cloud. This can normally be solved by simply buying more. The second is internet availability and connection speed. Not an issue if you have access to ultra-fast Wi-Fi, but becomes very problematic in areas of poor connectivity or slow speeds.
By storage devices, we primarily mean USB flash drives and external hard drives. But equally, a laptop or phone with sufficient memory can be considered a storage device and backup option. USBs are cheap, highly portable and offer good storage capacity, up to about 256GB. Which could be plenty for most. External hard drives work in the same fashion but offer much more memory capacity, upwards of 1TB for example. These will be more than adequate for even the most trigger-happy adventurer. Laptops are a great multi-functional tool, allowing you not only to backup media but equally sort, edit and organise it too. There are plenty of good value options for travellers that are portable and come with a decent memory.
Drawbacks of course come with needing to transfer/backup media files from SD cards in cameras etc onto the flash drive or hard drive. This is easy to do if bringing a laptop along with you but can prove tricky without one. With regards to laptop drawbacks, they present another high-value item that you have to look after. Plus some people don’t want the hassle of having to carry one around.
Traditionally when backing up media to a storage device, such as a hard drive or USB flash drive. You needed the help of computers, cables and various adapters to copy files from your camera/phone onto a storage device. Thankfully technology has progressed a bit now with the invention of a wireless hub. These are Wi-Fi enabled portable hard drives that allow you to directly plug in an SD card and back them up straight to the device. They also allow you to connect to the hubs via its built-in Wi-Fi and transfer files this way too. Finally, they can double up as power banks and even Wi-Fi boosters. They are truly multifunctional tools, and we highly recommend the WD My Passport Wireless Pro.
Multiple Memory / SD Cards
When capturing media on gadgets such as cameras and drones, all the files get saved to the SD card within that piece of equipment. While not strictly a backup, you could use lower-capacity SD cards and switch them out more often. That way if the worst does happen to your gadget, you only lose a small subsection of your media on one card, and not the media on all the other cards (provided the event that impacted the camera SD card didn’t impact the separated ones). The best practice though would be to backup SD cards to one of the storage devices or wireless hubs mentioned above. While still keeping the original media on the cards until such a time you can back up the storage device too.
While not backing up in the traditional sense, or a great way to store large volumes or raw unedited footage. Another way to “save” your photos and videos is to post them to social media sites. Not only are you keeping everyone back home updated but you’re technically backing up your media on the social platform you use. And while the options outlined above are much more comprehensive, for many people, it can be a useful way to store a nice little highlight real of their trip.
A Note on Documents
Documents are slightly different to media files as they are much smaller in size and often needed for a different purpose. Before departing on a trip, we recommend saving important documents such as travel insurance, passport photocopies and tickets etc to a cloud-based storage service. Should you need access to these documents, provided you have internet access you can easily obtain them from the cloud. Additionally, these services also allow you to save offline copies, to devices such as smartphones and laptops.
Other potential options would be to email attachments of the document to yourself and save them somewhere in your inbox. Or to carry a storage device (laptop, USB, smartphone) with the documents saved and password protected, to prevent someone from accessing them should they get hold of the device. The final method is simply to print copies of the documents and keep them safe in a plastic wallet while you travel. Probably the easiest and most readily accessible option, but also the least secure.
There we have it, a comprehensive guide on how best to backup and store your amazing travel memories. Giving you the ability to look back over past trips for many years to come. However, no one method is likely to meet all needs or circumstances. We therefore recommend a combination of the above, which will give you the most versatile, secure and safe method of storing your photo, videos and documents while on your next adventure.
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