Don’t Be A Backup Chump

I learned something the hard way many years ago. When traveling with a laptop PC, it’s a good idea to backup your photographs while on the road.

About 14 years ago, while traveling in Mexico, my laptop was stolen from me. On that laptop were all the photos I had made during that week long trip. I didn’t lament the laptop being stolen as much as I did the lost photos. Other than a few images still on the memory chip in my camera, I had nothing to show for the trip. Memories lost forever.

In the time since, I always back up my images while on the road. Nightly, or anytime I have more images from the trip at least. I pack those backups in a different location from the laptop too. Won’t do you any good to have your laptop case stolen with your laptop and your backups in the same case.

Backing up your images is not a difficult task, it’s just a matter of personal discipline and prudence.  These days it’s a lot easier to have a light weight and effective backup medium than it used to be. I’ll go over a few possible options you may find suitable for yourself.

I currently use a SanDisk 1TB SSD with a USB-C adapter (pictured above) as my primary backup method while traveling. It weighs almost nothing and the USB-C connection is lightning fast. I had to purchase an adapter cable (pictured above) and all that is required is to plug it in to one of the USB ports on my laptop.  Sandisk 1TB SSD, $74.99 on Amazon. AVYXM USB/SATA adapter cable $11.99 on Amazon.

Here’s another trick that works fairly well and is super compact. Use a Micro SD card in a SD adapter. I recently purchased a 512 GB Micro SD card to install in one of my security cameras and found out that the camera didn’t support that size of a Micro SD card memory. I decided I’d just stick the card in a Micro SD adapter and keep it as a backup drive for my laptop. Here’s a 1 TB micro SD card with adapter for $22.99 on Amazon.

I also have a Sandisk FreeAgent 512 GB USB external drive, which I use from time to time. It’s a little bit slower than an SSD, but still gives me a light weight and portable backup drive. Toshiba has a 1TB version that is selling for $45.99 on Amazon.

I personally prefer the external SSD as it’s so fast that it can be used as a regular hard drive for editing and such. My laptop has 2 TB of operating SSD drive memory but a lot of that space is gone and if I need to download a lot of photos, that external drive gives me plenty of room for doing what I need to do.

I’m always talking to photographers who lost their image files due to a hard drive crash and because they never backed them up. Don’t be a chump. Backup your images. Do it cheaply, do it expensively, but DO IT. Don’t be that guy or gal who can’t edit photos because you don’t have enough room on your laptop drive. Don’t be that guy or gal whining about losing all your photos because you didn’t back them up.

Work like a pro.


Since I posted this article, the question has been presented to me regarding methods of backing up images while traveling without a computer. It’s a good question too. There are several ways to backup your photos and rather than write it all up, I’ll share a link to an article on this subject.

Here’s the link.

9 Ways to Backup Photos While Traveling Without a Computer.

I have a few different methods of backing up my files when traveling without a computer.

From time to time, I simply configure my camera’s second card slot as a backup. This writes everything to a second memory card in the camera, but it also slows down the performance of my camera. but at least I have an immediate copy of the original RAW file on a second memory chip. My preferred method for traveling without a laptop. If your camera has two card slots, this may be the easiest method of backing up your images without a computer.

Occasionally I use the Nikon wireless transfer function to copy my files to my iPhone. It’s not the fastest thing in the world, but it works fairly well and I can do it just about anywhere without a bunch of cables.

To backup wireless, I use the Nikon WMU utility with my Nikon D850. Snapbridge is too problematic for me. Downloading a single Nikon D850 JPG file can take close to 2 minutes, so I normally only download the shots I know I don’t want to lose. I haven’t figured out how to download the original RAW files, it seems to convert all images to JPG, which sucks. When I’ve finished backing up my camera files, I leave the backup images on my iPone until I know I am safe at home with the originals. If I need to retrieve a backup image from the camera backups on the iPhone, I send the images to my Google drive and then download them from there using my WiFi connection on the home network. Apple is weird how they handle image files on the iPhone and connecting to a Windows PC. Still it works, I can rest assured that I at least have a backup available, so long as I don’t fill my iPhone storage. I only use this method when I am traveling without my laptop and I make it a point to backup the critical images only each day or as time allows. Better to keep it up to date than to wait until the end and try transferring hundreds of images.

I haven’t tried the SD card adapter for the iPhone, but it isn’t expensive so I may give it a go at some point.