How To Keep Your Travel Photos Safe, Secure and Backed Up

Matt taking photos in Paris

Technology plays an important role in modern travel, but sometimes it can be confusing. That’s why I am thrilled to introduce today’s guest travel writer, Michael Tieso of the popular travel site Art of Backpacking. Michael is a travel technology expert and he has agreed to help us all with one of the most important aspects of modern travel – protecting our cherished travel photos. This is a concise and easy-to-understand post and I’ve already changed the way I manage my many photos after reading it.

Ever lose all your photos because you’ve been robbed, had a virus, or you’ve deleted them by accident? I have and it’s heartbreaking. I’ve learned through my mistakes and now take the backing up of my photos and data very seriously.

It takes a little bit of extra work to backup your pictures but if the pictures are important to you then it’s worth the effort.

All External Hard Drives Fail Eventually

Hard drives are a ticking time bomb. It’ll eventually fail and you’ll lose your data. It’s really important to remember not to put all your eggs in one basket. Never rely on just one copy of anything. Typically hard drives last about 3 to 5 years but it can really depend on the brand, your usage, and physical damage. Judging when your hard drive will fail is like picking lottery numbers. It’s difficult to ever know exactly when it’ll fail.

Since travel photos and video files can sometimes be quite large, I would recommend getting several external hard drives in case all your files don’t upload in time onto the internet. Hard drives are relatively cheap for the amount you can store so it shouldn’t be too much of a burden. If you’re on the road, think about sending home your photos with a secure postage service. Just in case it doesn’t get there, have a backup with you until it gets home.

Since having multiple hard drives is not always convenient, here are a few alternatives to backing up your photos online.

West Coast Drive New Zealand
Photo you want to save


Dropbox is a cloud storage service. It’ll put an extra icon on your computer where you can drag and drop your files into for backing up. I’ve been using Dropbox as one of my main storage locations. Every photo and document goes in my dropbox.

Everything I put into my dropbox folder gets automatically uploaded into a cloud backup on Dropbox’s servers. I can essentially view all of my files from any internet browser. It’s all synced in real time so anything I add or delete in the folder gets updated on the Dropbox server as well. All I do is move my pictures to my Dropbox folder and it will automatically upload them.

It’s especially amazing when wanting to share photos with others. All I do is share the folder and give the URL to my friends and family to view the pictures on Dropbox’s website.


Backblaze works in similar ways to Dropbox but instead of backing up only one specific folder, it backs up your entire computer and any external hard drives you might have plugged in. It runs in the background so I never notice it backing up my files.

While with Dropbox you can view all your files on their website, Backblaze requires you to download the files before viewing them. Backblaze isn’t for sharing your photos but for keeping a true backup of everything you have on your computer.

They offer unlimited space and keeps all files for a period of 30-days. That means if I were to delete a file on my computer today, it’ll keep that saved file for a period of 30-days before removing it from their servers. This is super helpful when you delete a photo by accident and need to restore it again. Since backups can be hundreds of gigs and downloading would take ages, they have the option of sending you an external hard drive of all your files.

Arq Online Backup

When does Amazon ever go down? They have servers all over the world and it’s fast. Amazon has a web service where you can upload data onto their servers and access it from anywhere. Arq Online Backup is a software that works together with Amazon S3 web services to provide an online backup. It works similar to Backblaze so you won’t need both. Arq will automatically upload all of your data onto Amazon’s servers.

The only issue I can find with Arq is that if you have hundreds of gigs of data, you’ll have a very long downloading process to go through while with Backblaze you can order a hard drive. You do have more control over your files with Arq over Backblaze though.

Since cloud backups can run in the background, just always keep it on while you’re using your computer and eventually you’ll have everything backed up and safe from disaster.

A note about compatibility: Dropbox supports both PC and Mac. No difference between the two. Backblaze supports both PC and Mac. No difference between the two. Arq Online Backup is only supported by Mac.

How do you protect your precious travel photos?

By: Michael Tieso

Michael Tieso travels eating his way around the world. You can always find him with yerba mate.

16 thoughts on “How To Keep Your Travel Photos Safe, Secure and Backed Up”

  1. Dropbox has revolutionized my life! I have multiple computers that I regularly use and it’s soooo handy not to have to use flash drives or email to move files between the two of them! Looking into options for online backup. Had no idea Backblaze was so cheap!

  2. It is so important to somehow back up your travel photos.

    A few years ago our digital camera was stolen off my shoulder in Assisi, Italy. Fortunately we had only backed up our photos the day before and were still in the area. After we purchased a replacement camera we were able to retake the day of photos which had been lost.

  3. thanks for the info. i’m investigating this for a trip to europe next week.

    you’re coding your ‘A href’ tags/links incorrectly… they all don’t work. even the Backblaze link you fixed still has an extra quote at the end. :)

  4. Because of the mega-GBs of travel photos that I’ve built up, I would prefer not to have to spring for monthly fees at Dropbox or other cloud services because they charged based on the storage space one needs. As such, is burning on DVD/Blu-Ray a good backup for external HDs?

  5. The cost of uploading that amount of data would be significant even when I’m on my home braodband – I can’t imagine paying for it when I’m travelling! Maybe if I was in the US – but the rest of the world is still a bit slow and expensive to upload photos and particularly videos.

    I copy onto my laptop, keeping the photos on the memory cards too, usually daily. Plus I cut DVDs about once a week – which either get mailed home or are carried by somone else in a different bag than the camera or the laptop

  6. This is sound advice here. Hard drives fail because of their moving parts which is why I am particualry looking forward to solid state hard drives becoming much cheaper. Plus they are faster.

    I keep meaning to buy another hard drive to backup my photos onto but its one of those things I keep forgetting. Flickr can also be a good way to save your photos if you purchase a Pro account.

  7. I am familiar with dropbox, but I have been uploading all my photos to a Picasa web album (a Google product). It has worked really well thus far, and was only $5 I think for a ton of extra room.

  8. I’ve always marveled at how people take larger and larger photos, buying cameras that go up to 20 megapixels, then shrink them down to a single megapixel so that it’s visible on a computer screen. I know the people doing heavy editing have a better reason, but I just can’t imagine anything more than 5 being worthwhile. I traveled for a long time with a 5 megapixel camera, took plenty of great photos, and I was only using the 3 megapixel setting anyway.

    This makes it a whole lot easier to backup the photos to the cloud, and I don’t have to carry extra equipment around. If all you want is to see your photos on the computer and share them, buying fancy cameras is quite literally synonymous with spending money on things you’ll never see. I think it’s a great way to go, and makes online backup so much easier.

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