Storage workflow, from preparing via on the road to backup when coming home

As we do most travel photos, we need to start with what photo gear to bring. That includes more than cameras and lenses, we also need to think about storage. We need to bring more memory cards than we need and external hard drives with more than enough space (make sure that they are all working!). For the camera with only one card slot, we never delete photos from the full memory card used with that camera, but for the camera with dual card slots (which the second card slot is set up to backup), I delete one of them after all photos are copied over to the external hard drive.

To explain better, we always keep the full memory cards until we are home and safe, except for the camera with dual slots where we keep only one of them after the photos has been copied over to the hard drive on the road. The other will be deleted and reformatted to be used again. Should also add that if you run out of space, SD and CF-cards are easy to find, just don’t be tempted to buy a cheap brand (Sandisk and Lexar are recognized to be good and reliable).

For longer trips like with airplane, we bring two external hard drives and try to keep them separated, means in two different bags. That way we have three separate copies of each photo until we come home, one on the full memory cards and one on each hard drive to minimize risk to lose any of them. On shorter trips by car here in Norway I only use one hard drive to back up.

Every evening or next morning, all new photos on the memory cards are copied over to the hard drives and those on the memory cards are left untouched until the card is close to be full and then replaced with an empty one. “Close to be full” is important as you may have a card failure if you fill them to the max. It doesn’t need to be a lot of space, but keep an eye so you have room for a few more when you replace the card.

Tip; get external hard drives that have USB 3 and don’t need an external power supply; we have two Seagate Expansion Portable 2TB and a handful of Sandisk Extreme Pro 128 GB SD-cards.

Why so many copies of the photos? Memory card failure and hard drive failure WILL happen sooner or later, so to minimize risk, make more copies. Knock on wood; we’ve never had any card failure with our Sandisk cards yet (had with a lesser known brand though). There is also a chance of being robed or luggage being lost while traveling by airplane, so having several copies stored in different bags is also a good idea even though they don’t fail this time. And no matter how easy it could be to redo the trip or photo shot, you will never be able to replicate the uniqueness of those you’ve lost.

Two reasons why we don’t just save them on the laptop that we already bring, one is that the internal SSD hard drive doesn’t’ have enough space and secondly it’s actually easier to transfer the photos from an external hard drive when we’ve arrived home.

When we’re back home all photos are loaded over to a stationary computer where they are regularly backed up to a RAID 10 NAS backup and further backed up online.

On my storage disk I use the windows folder structure to keep track of the photos in the line of year, country and place or event. Within each place or event folder, I put all the corresponding raw files and make a jpeg folder for edited and converted photos. This way the structure will be exactly the same for whatever program I’m using and obviously very easy to navigate in.

Wouldn’t it be difficult with a lot of photos? Not in my experience, we usually take about 500 photos combined each day on average when traveling, and haven’t come across any challenges in this regard yet. A tip though, is to regularly take photos of names of places and buildings to make it easier to keep track when you come home and start to organize the photos into appropriate folders.

Only when we are home and have copied all photos over to our storage disc and backup has been confirmed, we can delete and format the SD-cards used.

How we edit photos for online use is found here.

More on workstation here.


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