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How to back up photos if I don't take a laptop

I almost hesitate to ask this question as the answer is probably obvious but it has escaped me so far. In the past, we have carried a laptop when traveling and would remove the SD card from the camera each evening, put it in the SD slot on the laptop, and download our photos as a backup. We do not plan to carry a laptop on our trip to Italy but will take a Kindle Fire HD and maybe an iPad, neither of which have slots for an SD card or even a USB port. I had thought there might be some sort of external memory device with an SD card slot but the only ones I have seen are bulky and cost several hundred dollars. The card readers appear to require a connection to a device with a USB port to download the photos. We currently use a Canon Powershot SX20IS but may upgrade to a Nikon Coolpix L830 or Canon Powershot SX510 HS, which has WiFi capabilities.

I am pretty tech challenged, so any assistance will be greatly appreciated. I live in fear of losing my camera and all of my photos if I don't have a way of backing them up while traveling.

Posted by
9110 posts

There's an accessory for the iPad. One end of the wire goes in the tablet hole and the other into a socket with an sd card slot on the other side. Thirty bucks?

Posted by
1005 posts

If you have Wi-Fi, use free cloud storage services such as Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud, or Dropbox.

Posted by
66 posts

A lot of this answer depends on what kind of photos you're backing up, and how much of a loss you're willing to tolerate.

When I'm overseas I'm generally using a mixture of my cell phone (which automatically backs up my phone photos to Dropbox), and a Canon 60D. The 60D generally shoots 20-30MB photos, which are far beyond the capacity to backup when using hotel or residential Wifi when you have a nightly backup of 500MB+. While I sometimes bring a laptop, backing up photos generally took time and effort that I didn't find worthwhile.

What I've done instead is simply to rotate memory cards on my 60D. With 16GB cards, I need to switch them out every few days. So even if my camera gets lost/stolen, I'm still only losing a couple days of photos instead of the whole shebang. And, of course, anything I take on my phone is still backed up automatically. This is probably a good idea to do anyway, as memory cards can break or become corrupted, and it hedges your bets by only allowing a partial loss instead of your entire trip.

Of course, this is all kind of pointless if your memory card case gets lost/stolen as well. :)

Posted by
3696 posts

I do not use an ipad, but that plan sounds like it might be feasible... but you could also look into purchasing a much smaller computer and do what you already know works for you. A small Asus is less cost than an ipad and you can download images and then also back them up on another small external harddrive, (like a Passport) so you can have them in two places. As a professional photographer that is what I do... and just because I am a professional does not make my images any more valuable than yours... :))

Posted by
9363 posts

I carry a small, inexpensive netbook (Acer One) and do as you describe - take the SD card out of the camera and upload to it. Mine weighs less than 3 lbs. and has a 10 inch screen.

Posted by
24 posts

I think Nancy has the right idea. As Nikki said, doing the WIFI backup from the camera to the cloud is time consuming. My wife bought a Canon Powershot camera with WIFI capability and I have been experimenting with it. It seems to take a llloooonnnngggg time to upload the pictures. In the meantime, I bought a "disposable" $69 Android tablet with a 64GB SD card from Amazon that has the capability of acting as a host for the camera. Not all can, so be careful if you go that route.

Posted by
2 posts

Many hotels have a computer for guests to use. Bring along an inexpensive memory card reader and a portable hard drive. Both plug into USB ports. Just transfer files from the memory card to the hard drive. An alternative to the portable hard drive would be a thumb drive.

Posted by
3 posts

I use the iPad accessory (just insert sd card) and then I upload to my Shutterfly account. I'd definitely do some sort of cloud back up or even more than one back up--photos are irreplaceable. I'm thinking of trying out an external hard drive on my next trip.

Posted by
30971 posts

Chris,

Using an iPad with the photo transfer accessory is probably the easiest solution, as Ed suggested. If you already own an older model iPad, the photo transfer accessory may be slightly different than the one shown in the link. However, if you're using a newer iPad it will have the Lightning connector.

As you're using Cameras that only produce JPEG files (compressed), you won't have to be as concerned with memory capacity of the device you're using. However, keep in mind that the memory supplied with the Kindle Fire is considerably less than an iPad, so my suggestion would be to use an iPad. If you were shooting 25-30 MB images with a DSLR, it wouldn't be difficult to exceed the memory capacity of an iPad or other tablet, but with JPEG images you should be fine (depending on how much memory your tablet is equipped with).

Posted by
3 posts

With my first digital camera, I took the memory card to a photo shop and had them burn the photos onto a CD every few days. On my next trip, I'm bringing a netbook where I can save them from the camera, then upload to cloud storage as a second backup. (Or even to my PC at home through a secure remote connection... I'm going to have to test which is faster.) Be careful of some of the online photo-sharing sites... I uploaded to one and then had to "buy" them to download once home. I'm not sure which site it was, or if it still exists, but I remember being shocked that I had to ransom back my own photos.

Posted by
4689 posts

I travel with a netbook too - but OP doesn't want to take one.

Uploading high resolution photos via WiFi could take forever. I wouldn't bother trying, unless you take very few photos.

Memory cards are very cheap now. If your camera will take SDXC (newer type of SD card than SDHC), I'd stock up on a couple of cards, so you never run out of space (so you never have to format a card while traveling). Of course that isn't a "backup" though. In that case, I might simply buy 2X as much memory card storage as you need and bring a USB SD card reader (very small) and when you get to a public computer at a hotel or something, plug your camera into one USB port and the card reader into another, then drag-and-drop the latest photos from one memory card to the other. Then you have a backup at least, on another memory card. And you'd also have extra memory cards if by chance you run out near the end of your trip. (A USB flash drive would work too for backup but can't work in your camera.)

I don't trust burned CD/DVD discs for backing up photos. Burns can easily go wrong if not verified and discs themselves can go bad over time.

Posted by
2081 posts

Chris,

have a looksee at this link if you care to.

enter link description here

It covers using an Android phone for file transfers. The concept is the same and you should be able to do it. Or, if you're not sure, just google it.

just an for your info, i bought the stuff and tried in on my Android phone. easy as pie.

happy trails.

Posted by
8 posts

This is something I have been interested in for several years. I found I was pushing past the limits of a point&shoot, so I went to a Nikon D90 shooting in raw mode, so the files are tens of MB each. We're looking at many gigabytes worth of data, so cloud backup is impractical (at least for most places I've traveled). The SD card itself is one level of backup. I'd like to be able to copy the contents to another device. I have been carrying a lightweight laptop (approx. 3 lb. Acer) plus a couple of portable USB hard drives; I would use a USB card reader and copy from the SD card to the USB hard drives to make extra backups. I would like to strip down and eliminate the laptop part, but so far, I don't see how to do it. I would like some (probably powered) gizmo to copy from an SD card to a USB device (like a USB hard drive), without a full--up computer. I've looked at USB "OTG" adapters (allowing a card adapter to be connected to, e.g., a Nexus 7 tablet)
or phone) but it doesn't quite get there, because the tablets are not up to storing many 8GB or 16GB SD cards. If you have a suggestion about how to do this, I would like to hear.
Thanks.

Posted by
2081 posts

tgaetz1

you can buy 64+ GB thumb drivers and keep use those as you "Backup". just use the note/laptop or whatever as your transfer medium.

If you check out B&H photo video, they offer some stand alone SSD backup devices. All they are are SDHDs in an enclosure with some simple firmware to transfer files. There is no provision to review your files or anyway to "verify" that they have been copied w/o corruption. one other comment is that they are not cheap.

Or, you can buy an external SSD for use as "backup". you can find some that will run off of USB power and won't need an external Power Supply. External mechanical drives are less expensive and you may have issues with finding one that will run from USB power. I havent looked into it since i have no use for a travel one. i do have one at home. the only issue is that some things could get damaged in transit. SSDs are nice but they aren't cheap.

One other thing you can look at doing is to just bite the bullet and buy a lot of SD cards. Get the largest and fastest cards you can afford. They are small in physical size even if you get a 50 of them, they dont take up a lot of space, they dont require external power and once you fill one up, put it away and pop in the next empty one.

my new smart phone is USB 3 compliant and it can use a 64 MB memory card. Having USB 3 interface is really fast. my 5.7 phablet is smaller than your nexus 7 and i can do a lot with it even though i only use it for my travels. Map, intiniary, things to do/see ect....

happy trails.

Posted by
250 posts

I bought a device for my iPad at BestBuy for $30 that you insert your sd card into and upload the photos that way. I then transferred them all to facebook as well incase I lost my iPad ( erased them daily from my camera). Worked slick, plus my friends got to see all my cool pics, I could organize by each day/city, thus not get confused as to which picture was from where.

Posted by
1516 posts

I just take a few SD cards and swap them out after a few days. I'm thinking about purchasing the IPad device that Kathi mentioned for my next trip. I've taken thousands of photos over the years with no problem (knock on wood!)

Posted by
1 posts

@tgaetz1. Based on what I've been looking at for backup solutions, it sounds like the RavPower would be what you're looking for. It allows you to transfer from SD card to external hard drive, as well as offering a wifi capability allowing transfer to a computer, tablet or phone as well. One downside from transferring from SD to external is that you can't see the transfer happening, but you should be able to double check afterwards via either wifi to computer/phone, or by plugging in your external hard drive into a hotel computer. It looks like it also has an ethernet plugin to create a wireless signal, bonus!

More info and for sale on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/RAVPower-FileHub-External-Wireless-Portable/dp/B00ICEWB58)

Posted by
1761 posts

Old thread but.....

Look on Amazon for a "Digital Foci Photo Safe". Back up from SD card without a computer or Wifi.

Posted by
2 posts

One thing I done before was use a Micro SD card which was inserted into a full SD adapter. When you snap the images on your camera you can then plug the card into your smartphone (depending on if your smartphone has an SD card slot) and then back up these photo's to your cloud service of choice.
Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive are all good choices and give you a certain amount of storage for free. Just means your photos are protected for a bit until you can then download them on your laptop when you're back. Also gives you the freedom to upload the pictures and then delete them off the memory card to prevent it getting clogged up.