Creative Security

7 Tips for Keeping Your Digital Photos Secure on Vacation

Philip Bates 19-07-2017

When away on vacation, it’s all too easy to snap away to your heart’s content. “When am I ever going to come back here again?” And no one can blame you.


But how do you make sure your photos are safe? It would be truly awful for pictures to disappear or your device to be stolen Five Ways a Thief Can Profit From Your Stolen Hardware Criminals steal your PC, your laptop, your smartphone, either by burglarising your house, or by snatching them from you. But then what happens? What can thieves do with your stolen tech? Read More , and all those treasured memories are tainted. What happens when you lose your phone, or it becomes redundant?

Fortunately, whether you’re using a digital camera or smartphone, you can keep your photos secure.

1. Automated Backups

Backing up your data is the key to saving your photos.

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Smartphones have a handy feature that allows you to automate backups, but this feature isn’t always turned on by default.


If you’re an Apple user, you likely have an iCloud account already Is It Finally Time to Buy More iCloud Storage? Now that iCloud storage costs considerably less than it used to, it might be time to upgrade beyond 5GB. Read More , in which case you need to click Settings > Photos & Camera > iCloud Photo Library. Alternatively, you can use Google Photos How to Use Google Photos as the Perfect Vacation Companion Holidays are a time to remember, where you capture memories that you want to cherish forever. Using Google Photos will ensure that your favorite moments are saved for a long time to come Read More , Dropbox, or Mozy. OneDrive is essential if you have a Windows Mobile 10 (or Windows Phone) device: simply launch the respective app, then Settings > Camera Upload.

By activating these precautions, photos will synch with cloud-based libraries Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More , though only when you’re connected to the internet. Some will use mobile data, while others will wait until you’re connected to Wi-Fi, so check your in-app settings.

You need to take a couple of things into account if using cloud systems What Is The Cloud? The Cloud. It's a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. What is the cloud, exactly? Read More . The first is that you need enough space for regular backups, and that’ll cost you. Shop around! You might be surprised at some of the deals on offer. At least brush up on image sizes The Complete Guide to Featured Thumbnails and Image Sizes in WordPress Here's everything you need to know about image sizes in WordPress and managing featured images. Read More and make projections before you leave for what space you require.

The second thing to remember is to encrypt your smartphone 7 Reasons Why You Should Encrypt Your Smartphone Data Are you encrypting your device? All major smartphone operating systems offer device encryption, but should you use it? Here's why smartphone encryption is worthwhile, and won't affect the way you use your smartphone. Read More . It sounds complex, but it’s not Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Encryption! Encryption sounds complex, but is far more straightforward than most think. Nonetheless, you might feel a little too in-the-dark to make use of encryption, so let's bust some encryption myths! Read More . It simply means using password protection — this scrambles your personal information, making it unreadable. Because if someone gets hold of an unlocked device, they could steal your data and overwrite any backups you’ve saved. Using a separate app to lock images 4 iOS Apps For Hiding Your iPhone Photos If you want to keep photos away from prying eyes, sometimes an iPhone passcode just isn't enough. Read More may ease your mind further.


2. Use Multiple SD Cards

Not all smartphones allow usage of MicroSD cards How to Pick & Buy the Best SD Card for Your Needs What kind of SD card is right for you? Not all of them are the same, after all. Here are the minimum specs you should aim for depending any given activity or need. Read More , but if you’ve one that does, or indeed are using a DSLR, it’s worth stocking up on a few of them.

Memory Cards are pretty cheap nowadays, so it won’t leave a huge hole in your bank account if you buy one for every day you’re going on vacation (within reason). Or, if the cards’ capacities are large, one every couple of days. If needs must, you can still reuse them on your next break, as long as you’ve retrieved all images from them.

It might sound extreme, but at least if you do lose a card, it’s one day’s worth, not a whole week or longer.

They are not fool-proof, of course: they could get stolen 7 Ways to Keep Your Gadgets Secure While on Vacation You've gone on holiday, and taken a phone or tablet with you, either for photos, reading, or to stay in touch. But how do you keep your phone safe while on holiday? Read More , misplaced, or corrupted. Nonetheless, they’re a solid way of keeping your photos secure and organized.


Consider purchasing a case to keep them in, so you won’t leave one at your accommodation. Proper storage units are compact enough to fit into your pocket even, while further being water-resistant.

3. Consider a Camera With Wi-Fi

Online access is a massive advantage of taking photos on a smartphone — but your image resolutions will suffer. That doesn’t mean you can’t back images up over the internet, however.

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If you’re looking at buying a new DSLR, consider a Wi-Fi-enabled camera with a sync feature that’ll upload your snaps to social media or some aforementioned back-up services. It goes without saying that these vary wildly in price, but they’re pretty affordable, even if you’ve a limited budget.


You might be perfectly happy with your camera, however. You don’t need to buy anything expensive instead — just find a wireless SD card Wireless SD Cards Explained: The Features You'll Need What do you get if you combine WiFi technology with SD card storage? You get a wireless SD card, obviously. But what benefit does that actually offer? Read More , such as an Eye-Fi or Flash-Air. These are SD cards with Wi-Fi WiFi SD Cards: Comparison Review and Giveaway SD cards are mostly just plastic - put a tiny WiFi chip inside and suddenly they take on a whole new life, allowing for wireless data transfer. Read More , and so can do the same job (even if it can be a bit fiddlier to set up initially). They generally connect to your smartphone or laptop so you can secure your images from there.

4. Portable Backup Devices

A separate backup device is always handy, whether you’re using cloud storage or not NAS vs the Cloud: Which Remote Storage Is Right for You? Network Attached Storage (NAS) straddles the line between a local hard drive and cloud storage, and gives you the benefits of both. Read More . You could take your own laptop with you, or ask to use a PC at your accommodation or at an internet café.

An external hard drive will give you extra peace of mind, and let you free up your memory cards, safe in the knowledge that your much-loved images are stored elsewhere. Of course, a back-up of your entire system is advised, particularly as we hear about more and more cases of ransomware The Global Ransomware Attack and How to Protect Your Data A massive cyberattack has struck computers around the globe. Have you been affected by the highly virulent self-replicating ransomware? If not, how can you protect your data without paying the ransom? Read More . In such a case, a storage unit that is unplugged from your laptop Why Encrypting Your Data Won't Protect You From Ransomware Encrypting your data will keep it safe from theft and unauthorized access. But when it comes to ransomware, your encrypted data is little more than a locked safe inside the scammer's locked safe. Read More following each backup will give you access to all your important information.

This is especially vital if you use public Wi-Fi wherever you go. Sure, it can save on your bills — particularly when you’re using a device abroad — but you put a lot at risk each time you connect 5 Ways Hackers Can Use Public Wi-Fi to Steal Your Identity You might love using public Wi-Fi -- but so do hackers. Here are five ways cybercriminals can access your private data and steal your identity, while you're enjoying a latte and a bagel. Read More to a new signal.

External backups are typically compact, relatively lightweight, and comparatively cheap, so ideal for vacations as well as home use. As an added benefit, you won’t need to search for internet access, which can be tricky in more remote areas.

5. Create Albums on Social Media

If you’re using a smartphone or tablet to take photos, this is incredibly easy to do.

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Creating Photo Albums on social media acts as an extra backup which you can access wherever you go. Facebook suggests it every time you add images to your smartphone anyway!

Flickr is probably the best repository for photos that can be kept to yourself, shared with contacts, or with the public. As an added benefit, it stores metadata Avoiding Internet Surveillance: The Complete Guide Internet surveillance continues to be a hot topic so we've produced this comprehensive resource on why it's such a big deal, who's behind it, whether you can completely avoid it, and more. Read More , so you can track when and where events took place.

Even if you’ve downloaded images from a camera onto a laptop, further adding them to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr means additional security should your laptop go missing.

It’s important you keep these photos private, so review your privacy settings 8 Things to Do in an Hour to Wrestle Back Privacy From Facebook We all know that Facebook guzzles as much of your information as it can. But how can you get control of your privacy again? Quitting Facebook is an option, but other options are available. Read More on whatever accounts you use. Otherwise, you’re advertising the fact your house is empty. You can always make them public if you wish once you’re home again.

Otherwise, enabling Family Sharing Apple Family Sharing Explained: What You Need to Know and How to Use It Apple's Family Sharing service lets your loved ones access a shared pool of content and subscriptions. Here's how it works. Read More will mean your loved ones can enjoy your travels with you, and could save images to a device at home. Plus, you can have a holiday completely free of social media How to Get Your Recommended Daily Dose of News via Social Media What if we only got news from social media? What would we miss? How effective is relying on retweets and such to spread the word? And which feeds are best for the all-important headlines? Read More !

6. Print Them Off!

We’ve all done it: you take time to organize a few folders of pictures onto a USB, then a year later, you can’t find it anymore. Similarly, that can be the problem with storing images on an SD card, external storage device, or even a phone.

The best method to stop yourself losing photos after a holiday is simply to print them off How to Print From Your iPhone or iPad: A Simple Guide Wondering how to print from your iPhone or iPad? Here's how using AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and a few other options. Read More . You can use your own printer if it’s of a high enough quality, or use an online service which does it for you (and generally pretty cheaply).

Heck, this is good practice when you’re on vacation too — naturally depending on where you are and how many images you want physical copies of.

If your trip is in your home country and you’ve got solid transport, it doesn’t especially matter what you print while away. You won’t want too much extra weight if you’re flying, so the best advice is to only print the images you’re most pleased with.

Or just use an online service The 10 Most Affordable Sites for Printing Digital Photos Online Printed photos are way better than staring at a digital screen. But why print at a one-hour photo shop when you can get them printed online and delivered? Read More that’ll send them straight to your home address anyway. Simple and efficient.

7. Get Into the Habit

This is absolutely essential. You need to get into the habit of regularly backing up your photos, whether that’s on cloud storage, a laptop, or external device.

Ideally, every evening, when you get back to your accommodation Security Threats All Airbnb Users Need to Know About It might offer flexible accommodation for good prices, but Airbnb can be a security nightmare for those renting. So what can you do about it? Read More , set a time to back-up everything. It’s not especially difficult or time-consuming — you just need to get the routine of it into your head, and stick by it religiously.

I know it can be tedious to impose any sort of schedule to a holiday, but it’ll be worth it when looking back over your snapshots in a month, a year, or a decade’s time.

Picture Perfect Break?

The fewer things you have to worry about on vacation, the more you’re going to relax and enjoy yourself.

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As long as you’re prepared 15 Ultimate Chrome Extensions For Travel Planning Search for a flight or hotel, plan a route for the road, save items you find, and discover new spots with these excellent 15 travel tools for Chrome. Read More , it’s very easy to keep your memories safe.

Which other methods do you have for securing your photos while on holiday? Have you ever lost treasured pictures? And what did you learn from the experience?

Image Credit: TravnikovStudio via

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Data Backup, Online Security, Photography, Smartphone Photography.

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  1. ReadandShare
    July 22, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Totally agree with backing up, of course, but everyone uploading their precious photos is what slows hotel wifi's down to a $#@%! crawl. Sigh...

    • Philip Bates
      August 6, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Very true. Although unless it's automated, I doubt loads of people actually do get into the routine of uploading every night. Still, it is worth it as you say, and especially if you're staying in an apartment, lodge, or something - somewhere with a router's not used by loads of holiday-makers!