Backing up your photos, without a laptop, while you travel

If you’re like me, you hate the idea of losing a photo. Call me a hoarder, but I never delete a photo.

Earlier in July, I took a two-week trip to Asia, computerless. I haven’t been away from a laptop for almost, well, ever? That’s right. I’ve used a computer just about every single day for as long as I can remember.

But my fear. My fear of losing a photo. How do I fix that? Where do I backup my photos?

Let’s go.


Things you’ll need

High level workflow

The RAVPower is an inexpensive device that allows you to pull files (yes, even RAW files) from an SD card and copy them to a hard drive. Your cell phone will act as a visual bridge to see files and folders from your memory cards and confirm that they are copied.

Thought process and brief history

(Skip over this section if you want to get straight to the good stuff)

When I do my normal backups, I go a little on the crazy side, ensuring that everything is backed up properly. I’ve had two Macbook hard drives crash and an external hard drive crash. Recovering data is a simple enough process, so I try and make it as easy as possible for me to recover my own data.

When I travel, I don’t always have access to wifi, or wifi fast enough to upload my daily shoot. Copies on SD and SSD medias will have to do. Relying on only memory cards doesn’t do it for me. I’ve never had a memory card fail and most people will tell you the same thing. But what if one did. Or, what if you lost a memory card or left one in a place that you’re hours away from. Chances are, you won’t go back and lose a day of travel for that one memory card. But maybe you would. Who knows.

When I travel, I try and bring as little as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop. Bring that rocket blower, something to clean your sensor and your lens, extra batteries, an extra lens or two or three, a tripod, a power brick, an extra phone, dan, DAN, D A N — I can go on and on here. But I’ll stop.

😰!!!!

The actual backup process is fairly straight forward. I did some research before I left on my trip and had a hard time finding an exact guide of what I wanted. Maybe it was my search keywords or maybe no one has written about it. Hopefully this guide will help you!

This setup for backups keeps your workstation pretty light and is something that won’t weigh you down.

On to the good stuff

  1. Unbox your RAVPower
  2. Download the FileHub Plus app for iPhone or Android (wifi password is 11111111 [8 ones] if prompted).
  3. Connect your SSD with the USB cable
  4. Put in your memory card
  5. Open the FileHub app on your phone
  6. Select files or folders from the memory card
  7. Tap the wrench and hit copy
  8. Navigate to the SSD
  9. Tap the wrench and hit paste
  10. Wait for a while

The RAVPower doesn’t read or transfer the SD cards at the full UHS-II speeds and the USB port is also USB 2.0. Welcome to slow city. If you take a file dump at night, before a night sleep, you’ll wake up with nicely backed up photos.

Some advice

Create folders, in camera, during each notable time of shooting. This will help you to separate different pieces of content when you’re editing and transferring everything to your backup system later.

Shoot on smaller cards. I shoot on 32GB cards. I have 3 of them and several older 16GB cards as a backup. Sure, you can probably fit everything onto a 128GB SD UHS-II card. But if that fails, breaks or gets lost at some point, well, it’s a lot of space to give up if you need it later. Spreading out your photos on smaller cards limits your risk of losing photos.

Don’t clear the memory cards. If you can, keep the memory cards as your first backup and the SSD as your second backup. If you cleared your memory cards, your hard drive is now the only point of failure. That is a big no-no.

Make sure your phone is turned on the entire time during the transfer. Depending on your phone, the transfer might stop if you close the app or if the phone goes to sleep.


Returning after a successful trip

After 2 weeks and 91.92 GB for 3,898 photos, I successfully am over my head in content. Imagine jumping into a big ball pit. That’s what it feels like looking at my photos. I am happy that I took the time to backup all of my photos. Had a card been lost, I may have missed some shots like these:

✌️ Dan

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