Germany: My Image Storage Solutions on the Road

The WD My Passport Wi-Fi hard drive

When I go for two weeks on a trip that involves sightseeing and exploring new areas, I typically shoot 1,600 images or more. I used to use only 4GB memory cards but then began switching to 8GB cards. I subscribe to the "don't put all of your eggs in one basket" philosophy and have always preferred the smaller cards. However, I am now more comfortable using 16GB cards, especially if I might shoot some video footage. If I specifically plan to shoot video, I will use a 32GB card. I just purchased three new 16GB cards for this trip so I have lots of SD memory cards.

Since getting cameras with wi-fi capability, I've changed somewhat how I deal with my images. At home, many images don't even make it to my computer or image storage drives. I transfer them from the card in the camera using wi-fi to my iPad Mini and do any edits on them there if they even need to be edited. However, on a trip like this or when shooting a special occasion or gathering, though I may transfer selected images to my iPad, I also do copy all the images to my image storage drive. It has always been my practice to almost fill up a memory card, then remove it and store it to take home and offload the images to my storage media. I then insert a new card - or format one used from a previous trip or occasion - into my camera and start fresh. I've been fortunate. This has always worked for me. 

The SanDisk Media Drive

However, recently I've begun trying to back up the cards immediately while still on a trip. The dilemma with this approach, though, is having media onto which to save the images. Very rarely when I go on a trip such as this one to Germany, do I take my laptop computer. So, I need media onto which I can transfer my images without the aid of a computer. The options to accomplish this have grown and keep getting better. I have two drives that I take with me. Both are small and light and both have wi-fi capability as well as SD card slots that allow me to automatically transfer images on a card to the drive. The biggest problem is that they can be slow. However, if you plan right, you can do the transfers during downtime, such as when you go to dinner or to bed. The drives I use are a 1TB WD My Passport Wi-Fi hard drive and a 64GB SanDisk Media Drive. The latter is tiny, about the size of a large book of matches!

32GB Omar's Drive

So, I can use these drives to back up my camera image files from the SD cards. However, I find that I typically take one-third of my images using my iPhone when I travel. And, now, with the improved camera on my iPhone 7 Plus, I suspect that percentage will increase. And though my iPhone has 32GB and I am trying not to fill it up with apps I don't use much, the available space left is usually still only around 15GBs. That fills up quickly when you're shooting images and video clips everyday! I usually need to be able to clear images and videos off the iPhone daily. I can store them on my 128GB iPad Mini, where I try to keep 60-70GBs free when I travel, but that's not always a viable solution for a couple of reasons. Therefore, specifically to deal with freeing up space on my iPhone, I bought the Omars Drive. Mine has a 32GB capacity. The drive is quite small, kind of like a fat memory stick. It has a USB plug on one end and a Lighting plug on the other. Using a free app, you simply plug the drive into your iPhone or iPad Lighting port and copy selected images/videos off to the drive. Once you've confirmed the images/videos are on the drive, you detach it and delete them from your mobile device, thus freeing up space for the next day. I've done this on other trips and it works well. When I get home, I simply insert the Omars Drive into a USB port on my laptop and copy the images off to my external hard drive for images using Adobe Lightroom.

The wi-fi hard drives, though, also make the backup of images from my iPhone possible. I set up a folder on my WD Wi-Fi drive and then create a folder for each day of the trip within it. At the end of the day, I connect to the drive, use the free WD MyCloud app, and copy that day's images into the corresponding day's folder. Though often a slow process, it's easy and works. The transfer of videos, however, is way too slow so I use the Omars Drive to offload video clips and the WD drive to offload images from the iPhone.

Another nice benefit with using these easy to carry storage solutions is that I can use my iPad to view all of my copied files on a nice screen while I'm still on the trip. I don't usually delete any images unless they are clearly no good, because sometimes an image that doesn't pass muster when viewed on my iPad will turn out to have merits when viewed at home on my computer screen! It's also nice to be able to share some of the images I capture with my travel companions (when I have travel companions) or the folks I'm visiting. This all may seem like overkill or way too much work to some but, trust me, it is worth the effort!