Here are six safe places to store your images on the road and for the long term.
Whether you stay close to home or take your gear on the road, you know that between high-res stills, HD video and 4K video shot with your DSLR, MILC, smart phone or compact digital camera, even high-capacity memory cards fill up fast, and so does your computer hard drive. Here are six safe ways to stow large quantities of image files both as you go and for the long run.
We've divided the world of portable storage into two kingdoms: Multimedia Storage Devices, and Portable Drives.
A Multimedia Storage Device lets you plug many varieties of memory cards, as well as thumb drives and even tablets and smart phones, so you can load files directly onto it. You could then plug it directly into your computer and use it as an external drive. While the compatibility with a wide variety of memory cards that can be plugged in directly is good, these devices tend to hold under 1TB. They range in price from approximately $150 to $2,400.
A Portable Drive connects directly into your laptop or desktop (and in some cases, tablet or smart phone) and downloads only from there. You are more likely to use a Multimedia Storage Device when you are travelling and may not bring a laptop with you, while you are probably going to use a portable drive both on the road with a laptop and at home with your laptop or desktop computer.
For several years, you could buy a multimedia storage device that included a small monitor so you can preview images, but the market for such devices has dried up and these days they are almost impossible to find.
Multimedia Storage Devices
Digital Foci Photo Safe II (500GB)
Adorama price: $149
If you need a good amount of storage but are on a tight budget, the Digital Foci Photo Safe II offers 500GB of storage, freeing up your memory card without the need for a computer. Photo Safe II easily copies the entire content of your memory card with the convenient one-touch Auto Copy button with copy speeds of up to 5.0MB/sec, so a full 1 GB card can be copied in approximately 3.5 minutes. Photo Safe II CF Type I (including Extreme III, IV, UDMA), xD-Picture Card, MMC, SD/HC Card, miniSD, Memory Stick, MS PRO, MS Duo, and MS Pro Duo memory card formats. A unique folder name that indicates media card type and copy sequence is automatically created for each copy task to help you keep organized. When you get home, connect Photo Safe II to your computer to retrieve your saved pictures
Nexto D1 ND2730 Digital Photo Storage (750GB)
Adorama price: $449.00
At the high end is Nexto, which makes expandable digital storage devices for video and still photography. The Nexto ND2730 Digital Photo Storage, with 750GB capacity, is an ideal location backup device for your digital camera photo files. Its two built-in slots are compatible with CF, SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. It supports high-speed data transfer speeds and has an auto copy mode that can be activated to automatically make a copy of a memory card you insert. As with all Nexto devices, this has a small color LCD monitor for thumbnail image previews. The ND2730 supports installation of a 2.5" SATA hard disk drive with a capacity of up to 2,000 GB. Additionally, the ND2730 has flexible power options and takes about 5 hours to charge by the included power adapter or FireWire 800/USB cable.
Sony LLS201 1TB Personal Content Station
Adorama price: $271.99
The Sony Personal Content Station can store 1TB of content downloaded directly from your Wi-Fi or NFC smart phone or tablet, as well as from an SDXC or Memory Stick Pro memory card, or a USB flash drive, and the content stored within is managed via your smartphone or tablet using the Sony PCS Manager app, which is available from Google Play and AppStore. at nearly 7x7 inches it is somewhat large for on-the-road use but it provides you with a personal, bring-along "cloud" where you can call up any photos. It is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Kingston Technology MobileLite WiFi USB Wireless Reader
Adorama price: $34.95
Built for smart phones and tablets, the Kingston Technology MobileLite WiFi USB Wireless Reader lets you transfer files between your smart device and either an SD card or USB storage device via Wi-Fi. It can serve as a link to thumb drives or even mass storage devices such as the ones listed below. It can be used by three devices simultaneously, and also doubles as a battery bank so you can recharge your phone or tablet on the go.
LaCie 2TB Rugged Mini Portable External Hard Drive
Adorama price: $189.99
The LaCie Rugged Mini 2TB External Hard Drive is designed for outdoor and adventure photographers and videographers, featuring shock resistance, drop resistance and a rubber sleeve for added protection. It is rain-resistant and pressure-resistant (you can drive over it with a 1-ton car and it still works). It is small and light, and can easily be stowed in a larger pocket or a backpack. With the Rugged Mini, you've got the speed of USB 3.0 and full backward compatibility with USB 2.0, meaning that you can use it on almost any computer. You can transfer a 700MB video file in less than 7 seconds with USB 3.0, compared to 25 seconds with USB 2.0. It's compatible with most Windows and Mac computers. The LaCie Rugged Mini is also available in other capacities from 500GB-2TB.
Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable Hard Drive
Adorama price: $79.00
Seagate's portable backup drives offer great value, and Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB Portable Hard Drive is no exception. The slim metal design allows you to slide the drive into your pocket, purse or backpack and carry it with you. Via the Seagate Dashboard, use the Protect function to set up a one-click plan or schedule your automatic local backup. Keep multiple copies of your files in case disaster strikes. Install the free Seagate Mobile Backup app on an iOS or Android mobile device to back up all of the pictures and videos from the device to the drive or the cloud. Back up mobile devices via a Wi-Fi connection while at home, or use services like Dropbox or Google Drive while on the go.
An emerging area of storage is that of cloud storage. The term “cloud” is increasingly used for a variety of computer and storage topics. Pared down to its most basic form it simply means remote. A wide variety of companies offer cloud storage, ranging from Apple’s iCloud, Google Cloud Storage to Amazon’s Cloud Drive. They often include a set amount of free space, and then additional storage for a set price. Amazon’s starts at 5GB and then additional space is available starting at $10 a year. Business users often see cloud storage offered as Storage as a service (STaaS).
You are connected to the storage via a network connection, often Wi-Fi and the storage provider usually includes some level of security. You can store virtually anything that you can on your computer’s hard drive, images, video, contacts, calendars or financial records. The term has now evolved into covering devices that might be located in a home or business and allow remote storage. We are starting to see a few storage devices that have built-in Wi-Fi that enables them to send data to the cloud when they are full or at preset times.
But you don't necessarily need a subscription fee...
WD MyCloud Personal 4TB Cloud Storage
Adorama price: $219.00
The WD My Cloud Personal features a large 4TB storage capacity capable of holding a variety of files from HD video to movies, music, photos, documents and more. The MyCloud Personal Cloud Storage device allows you to store all of your files in a central location and make those files accessible from nearly any web-enabled computer or mobile device, from any hotspot. The physical unit sits in your home or office, and you can automatically back up files from your PC and Mac, connect to Dropbox, set password access, and access your files from anywhere using your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone using WD's file management app. MyCloud is also available in 3TB, 2TB and multi-bay versions for pro users with capacities up to 16TB.