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Back It Up!

Keep your photos, videos, and other files safe while traveling

Back It Up
0 Comments 08 November 2010
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  1. Introduction
  2. Back Up Your Photos with Picasa
  3. Back Up Your Non-Photo Files With Dropbox

There’s an unfortunate yet verifiable truth of traveling that’s crucial for all travelers to accept: stuff gets stolen. Often. Beyond the run of the mill pickpocket in a crowded bazaar, I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories on the road. There are tales of crooked bus operators who rummage through the luggage in the under carriage on overnight bus trips, for instance.  Hotels and guest houses are no safer. One girl told me how she and her friends woke up to find their passport, iPod, camera, phone, cash and cards had all been stolen from their hotel while they were sleeping!

It’s important to come to grips with this reality before you set out on your trip.  Sure, there are best practices for protecting your gear and, if something is particularly valuable, you can always insure it. But, in general, if you’re not at peace with the idea of losing something in particular, leave it at home!

This anti-materialistic philosophy can only go so far and doesn’t apply to that category of irreplaceable creations you collect along the way. There are few things more tragic than losing photos, journal entries, videos, or any other outlet of creativity. Sadly this sort of thing happens all the time and whenever I console a travel buddy recounting how she lost all of her photos from the past 6 months all I can think is, “My God, why didn’t you back them up?” I try not to say this out loud.

This Connected Traveling series covers the the art of backing up all things digital. From photos and videos to audio recordings and typed journal entries, we go over how to keep your files safe while traveling. For more tangible concerns, be sure to see all our articles on staying safe while traveling.

Use The Internet

To start things off, I’d like to do away with a practice that’s carried out all too often and offers a false sense of security to travelers: burned CDs and DVDs are a BAD way to back ANYTHING up. They get scratched, they crack, they warp in the heat, they inexplicably fail all the time, and they can be ruined by direct sunlight. Why would you trust something as invaluable as your trip photos to something so fragile?

The best place to keep your media safe is on the internet. With net cafes popping up on every street corner and broadband speeds increasing all the time, it’s now easier than ever to throw your digital creations onto the proverbial cloud and let someone else worry about it. Backing up your photos online also makes it easy to order prints and share those wonderful captured moments with friends. All cloud storage is not created equal, however, and choosing one can be tricky. This Connected Traveling series will simplify the process for you.

Internet No Good? Use Memories Cards

The methods we describe for backing up your files online are all well and good when internet access is effective, but what about when it’s not?  You will no doubt encounter an internet cafe that you’d swear was still on 14.4 dialup modem and, after 10 minutes waiting for the Google home page to load, will cause you to throw up your hands and declare defeat. Our article on Dealing with Slow Internet will help you get at that vital email with your trip details, but certainly won’t bring you any closer to getting those photos uploaded. Similarly, maybe the internet is workable but you really don’t have the time to wait for your 1gb ad hoc travel documentary to finish uploading to safety.

Whatever the case may be, if backing up your files to the internet is not an option, use memory cards over CDs and DVDs. SD, SmartMedia, Compact Flash, or Memory Stick cards may cost more than a blank disc, but they’re a hell of a lot more reliable, durable, and easy to hide away in your wallet or mail home in an envelope. Plus, prices for these memory cards go down every few months.

Are You Traveling With a Computer?

One of the biggest reasons Connected Traveling recommends traveling with a Netbook is how easy it makes backing up your files online. Photo and video albums can be quite large, which can mean that backing up full size copies to the cloud can take more than one trip to the internet cafe. With a Netbook and the sync tools described in this series you can leave your computer running any time free WiFi is around (which is almost everywhere these days) and your files will continue uploading wherever you last left off.  This is hugely convenient and makes backing up your photos, videos and other files practically effortless.

If you aren’t traveling with a computer, you can still use the sites prescribed by uploading through a web browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox. We’ll walk you through that process as well.

Sounds Great! So How Do I Do It?

While photos, videos, journal entries, audio recordings and are all, technically speaking, files that are stored in the same way, separating digital image files from the rest of the lot is useful in a lot of ways. Let’s start with them to find out why!

NEXT: Part 2 – Back Up Your Photos with Picasa

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