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Friday, June 1, 2007

Backing Up Images In The Field

You can keep your images secure without carrying two laptops on every trip

Photo Traveler: Backing Up Images In The Field

Since the dawn of the digital era, I’ve sometimes wondered whatever became of the "travel lighter" promise of filmless photography. Finally, it was said, we wouldn’t be required to lug around hundreds of rolls of film on extended trips. While it’s true that a laptop alone is lighter and less bulky than a couple of hundred rolls of 35mm film, what I didn’t realize early on was that the laptop was only one of several components I felt compelled to carry to do digital photography on the road.

At first, no one factored in the bulk and weight of the backup hard drives and CDs/DVDs I needed to achieve the redundancy digital demands, all the battery chargers and AC adapters the new gear required and the battery-operated $150 rotating sensor-cleaning brushes, along with the special swabs and cleaning fluid that rival the most expensive French perfumes in cost per ounce. Before I knew it, my computer bag easily weighed (and certainly cost) as much, if not more, than a bag full of film—even with processing!

The final straw came when many professionals learned (sometimes the hard way) that a laptop is just a housed hard drive with a keyboard, and it’s a digital truism that all hard drives will fail eventually. To achieve the greatest amount of security for imagery on extended trips, I really needed to carry two laptops!

Why two? If your laptop’s drive packed it in on day two of a three-week trip to Africa, you’d be hard pressed to find a CompUSA to replace it, and it would be impossible to download and back up your daily take. Professionals can’t take chances like that, so many of us took to traveling with two computers. It was enough to make your spine, not to mention your wallet, howl in protest.

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