Something Dave has always told me is, “Anything stored in one place is something you don’t mind losing”. He worked at I.T. for a decade before it hit the road and has seen many investment bankers continually lose hugely important documents, so he knows what he’s talking about.
However, I mean and I don’t like being told what to do. When he told me that my backup system was horrible, I decided to prove it wrong.
And then I lost all my pictures of Guatemala.
Watching the sunrise in Tikal – one of the most magical moments of my life – is something I can only discover through my memories.
How did I lose those photos? Leaving my SD card in my Macbook for days on end. When I dropped my laptop on the floor, it landed on the SD card and shattered across the room.
Goodbye to all the photos I didn’t back up.
There was also the time when my hard drive broke because I had just thrown it in the bottom of my backpack and lost several months of photos.
At that time I dropped my phone in the toilet and lost two weeks of pictures.
So, needless to say, I’ve had my fair share of photographic disasters, and while it may seem like I’m blasé about everything, I’m not. The loss of your travel photos is devastating and I’ve been devastated every time this has happened.
So I’ve finally made a change and now I’ve found a system that works for lazy but optimistic people who never believe it will happen to them like me.
You need Crashplan in your life
Crashplan is one of my travel essentials these days and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
For $ 5 a month, Crashplan offers an online backup service with unlimited storage. Unlike services like Dropbox, Crashplan supports your entire laptop continuously in the background, without you having to do anything on your side.
You simply have to download the app, install it to backup it all or just a few folders and then you’re set up forever. It will now run in the background, check for new files every few minutes and support you. It is also extremely secure with some of the strongest file encryption of any backup service.
If your laptop is broken, stolen, or you accidentally delete something, you can go to Crashplan and download whatever you need.
Even better: if you delete something from your laptop, for example you took so many photos that you ran out of space on your hard drive, Crashplan doesn’t delete it from their storage. So he will be there, in the cloud and waiting for you forever. Most other online backup services delete files after 30 days of removal from the laptop.
So basically, if every piece of technology I own was stolen tomorrow – my laptop, my phone, my camera, my SD cards, my external hard drive – I wouldn’t be screwed in any way. Well, besides having to replace everything! But with Crashplan, I could buy a brand new laptop and restore all my data from the cloud. It may take a long time (especially if you don’t have a high-speed internet connection), but eventually my new laptop would have exactly the same stuff as the old one, including all those travel photos.
The only downside to using is the initial backup process, which can take weeks with a slow connection. I first received Crashplan when hopping on an island in Thailand and I think it took six weeks to complete the initial backup. If possible, it’s definitely worth signing up before you leave, so you can already back up everything.
Honestly, Crashplan is truly one of the best things I’ve ever invested in. I’m so lazy that I always forget to backup things, and even when I remember it, half the time I send it back because I can’t be bothered. Knowing that Crashplan is always running in the background and supporting my stuff to keep it safe gives me so much peace of mind.
Along with an external hard drive
Crashplan has you covered if you accidentally lose your laptop or delete your photos, but what would happen when traveling to a place like Burma where I managed to download only three emails from within 14 hours?
If you move around for a lot of things and have no guarantees on internet speed, it’s best to have an external hard drive that also holds all your photos. This way, if you need to access it at any time and do not have an internet connection, it will be easy to do so with your external hard drive.
Alternatively, you could carry a handful of SD cards on your trip and never delete your photos of them. Instead, when the card is full, you can replace it with a new one. I travel with this small, inexpensive case for my SD cards, which keeps them dry and protected in my backpack.
I put a reminder on my laptop to tell me to back up everything to my hard drive once a month so I don’t forget.