Ponderings,  Pre-Travel,  Travel Guide

Data Management – Photo Backup While Traveling

When we set off on our several months long trip to south-east Asia, I always expected us to take A LOT of photos. I had heard horror stories of people that lose or have their SD cards stolen during the last week of traveling, loosing all of their photos. This was not a risk I was willing to take, so I planned for some redundancy.

After just over 5 months, naturally the megabytes are mounting up and we are getting low storage warnings on our TF700 Asus tablet, Emma’s iPhone and sometimes even the camera’s SD cards. In total that is 16GB (iPhone), 64GB (tablet) and 64GB (2x 32GB SD cards). Yikes! Sometimes we take RAW images, sometimes a 5-stop HDR range, always at least a 14.1 megapixel image, 1080i video and recently started to experiment with time lapse and bulb exposure, all to add to the data mountain!

My photo storage & backup solution

As often as possible, I copy the images and videos from our camera’s SD cards and our iPhones (now just one – RIP) onto the tablet, where I organise them as follows:

– Images go into their respective country / city folders

– Videos above 35MB go into the videos folder, otherwise the country / city folder

– HDR ranges go into the HDR folder, keeping a copy of the 0 EV exposure in the country / city folder

– RAW images go into the RAW folder and the JPG copy goes into the country / city folder

I use the QuickPic app to copy images from the SD card to the folders on the tablet. QuickPic is configured to only include the necessary folders in order to speed up the app. To copy RAW images, I use the native File Manager app (sort by File Type), since QuickPic does not display RAW images. Then I use the RawDroid app to browse the RAW folder and weed out any accidental RAW exposures or those that I really don’t need in RAW, keeping only the best.

For the iPhones, I am (for now at least) forced to use the native Gallery app. Not surprisingly, iPhones and our Android tablet don’t play nicely. Sometimes it won’t show the images, sometimes it will crash if I try to copy more than 9 images (sigh), but on some lucky occasions, it will import a whole 100 images! This, however, seems to be the only way to get images from our iPhones to the tablet. After one iPhone is done, I browse the automatically created Imported folder using QuickPic, which I use to rename the files. QuickPic’s batch renaming feature is fantastic! The naming convention of our two iPhones would cause images to be overridden! To avoid this, I rename them to a date + time + “-e” for Emma and “-l” for Lionel convention. Then, I move them into their respective country / city folders.

Now to the backup. I use a superb little app called FolderSync to do that for me. I set up a folder pair to sync to a remote folder on my server. If you don’t have your own server with FTP access, you could use something like Dropbox or possibly even Flickr. Every time the tablet connects to a WiFi network, FolderSync starts copying the images to the remote location. When it is done, I move the completed folders to a “backed up” folder on the tablet (this prevents FolderSync from having to scan multiple directories and hundreds of files before it can begin copying new ones). To check that everything is being copied to the remote folder correctly, I use AndFTP to browse the remote directories.

I don’t (yet) backup HDR, RAW and video files. These I copy onto a USB stick for now, to at least carry two copies. We might burn some of this to a CD and send them home to family.

The weakest part by far is the iPhone. There is currently no way to copy the iPhone’s videos to the tablet and I am looking for a decent FTP app for the iPhone to backup the photos, not having to use Apple’s iCloud.

The things paranoia make me do. However, I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of sanity to have peace of mind.


  • Gnogga

    – continuing good luck with your image management while sitting on a bike most of the time. Next time you should rent one with a built in CD-burner.
    Cheers towards SEA

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