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, 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.
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, in which case you need to click Settings > Photos & Camera > iCloud Photo Library. Alternatively, you can use Google Photos, 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, 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. 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 and make projections before you leave for what space you require.
The second thing to remember is to encrypt your smartphone. It sounds complex, but it’s not. 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 may ease your mind further.
2. Use Multiple SD Cards
Not all smartphones allow usage of MicroSD cards, 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, 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.
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, such as an Eye-Fi or Flash-Air. These are SD cards with Wi-Fi, 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. You could take your own laptop with you, or ask to use a PC at your accommodation or at an internet café.
— DM Smith (@TableGameSmith) July 14, 2017
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. In such a case, a storage unit that is unplugged from your laptop 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 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.
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, 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 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.
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.
— Star Wars 1977-1983 (@StarWars7783) July 14, 2017
The best method to stop yourself losing photos after a holiday is simply to print them off. 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 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, 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.
As long as you’re prepared, 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 Shutterstock.com