How to Back Up Photos While Traveling without a Computer

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional photographer or an amateur. Nothing makes photograph enthusiasts break out in a cold sweat faster than the prospect of losing images. Whether you rely on your photos to deliver your next paycheck, capture your child’s first at-bat, or preserve memories of a bucket list vacation, losing those images can be heartbreaking.

This is why virtually every semi-serious photographer gets into the habit of backing up his or her images. However this often requires a lot of extra equipment, namely a computer and storage media. But what if you are about to embark on your dream holiday and don’t want to be bogged down with unnecessary items? No matter how thin and light laptops get, they’re still bulky and a pain to lug around. So how does one back up his or her photos without one?

Eye-Fi Mobi Pro is the name of a SDHC storage card that has WiFi connectivity built in. This enables users to wirelessly transfer images directly from their camera to their computer, tablet, smartphone or the cloud.

To get up and running, users first have to download and install Eye-Fi desktop or mobile apps on the devices they want their photos sent to. Then, simply pop the Eye-Fi card into the SD card slot in your camera, and you’re ready to go. To transfer your photos, Eye-Fi can use an existing wireless network or create its own private connection. This enables users to back up their photos on the go without having to worry about connecting to an available WiFi.

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Eye-Fi cards come in 16 and 32GB varieties, and supports the ability to select which photos you transfer using your camera’s menu. It supports both JPEG and RAW formats.

Wireless hard drives are hardly new, but this one from Western Digital is particularly interesting to photographers and videographers. This drive functions both as a standard backup drive and a file server courtesy of its built-in battery and wireless capabilities, but it also features a dedicated SD card slot. The slot can accommodate cards of any capacity and provides photo backup on the go, without the need of a computer.

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The drive can be configured to back up the contents of an SD card immediately on insertion or require the user to initiate backup. This hard drive provides portability and convenience so long as you keep its battery charged.

Western Digital definitely took their inspiration from these nifty gadgets when they designed the hard drive mentioned above. Companies like Hyper and NextodiUSA produce modular memory card backup systems aimed specifically at photographers and videographers.

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These devices are essentially hard drive enclosures that have a screen for viewing your photos built in. Pop the hard drive or SSD of your choice in the device and start backing up, no computer required. They are able to handle multiple card formats, like Compact Flash and SDHC, and feature a full-fledged file manager. Given their price point, they are generally aimed at die-hard photogs, but they get the job done and then some.

If you primarily use your smartphone to take photos, there are a plethora of ways to back up your photos on the fly. iPhone users can back up their photos to their iCloud accounts. Similarly, both iOS an Android users can use their Google account to back up your device’s photos. Unfortunately these options offer fairly limited storage space, unless you pony up the cash.

Some other cloud-based photo backup solutions include Dropbox and Flickr. Both of these options have an automatic upload feature. Dropbox features more free storage space than iCloud or Google and is easily accessible for virtually any device. In a world where bigger is better, Flickr takes the cake. Flickr has come a long way since its paltry 300MB limit, now offering a whopping 1TB of free storage for your photos. Cloud-based backups allow you to be free of extra gadgets, but you will need an Internet connection in order to use them.

Not a fan of the the Cloud? Don’t fret. Regardless of whether you’re an Apple or Android user, you’ll be able to back up locally with ease. Android supports OTG cables which enable you to connect your phone to a USB flash drive. OTG cables are cheap and have a small footprint. If you’re on an iPhone, all you need is a flash drive with a lightning connector, like the Sandisk IXPAND.

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Some of today’s higher-end cameras feature dual memory card slots, allowing photos to be saved to both cards simultaneously. This immediate form of backup saves time and money, but what if your camera doesn’t support dual card slots? The next best thing resides in multiple memory cards. Photographers often rotate memory cards to ensure they don’t run out of space, but also to prevent data loss.

The practice is simple: Dedicate a memory card for each location that you are shooting. This way, if a card becomes corrupted or lost, you have only lost a portion of you photos. It isn’t ideal, but getting into the habit might help you save the majority of your vacation memories. Memory cards are fairly cheap nowadays and come in varying capacities. Finding a card that suits your needs without breaking the bank should be easy. When traveling with multiple memory cards, make sure they’re properly protected.

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The photo backup methods mentioned in this list range in both nice and practicality. Personal preference will determine what works best for you. The most important thing to remember is to get into the habit of backing up your images often. Ask any photographer, professional or enthusiast, and they will tell you the same thing: redundancy is paramount. You don’t want to find yourself lamenting the loss of once-in-a-lifetime shots because you failed to make a backup. What’s your preferred method of backing up your photos? Let us know in the comments!

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