This is my first cheap & compact solution for photo backup while travelling without a laptop, or a tablet. As I feel we consume a lot of our very limited spare time on post-processing our photos, archiving them, sharing them on social networks, then what we have left for the actual very enjoyable process of capturing those images? I love to photograph! I may find the time to deal with my old photo files, later, but when I travel and I am in a beautiful location, I feel it’s a chance that I have to grab and I need to make the best of it. More freedom is good for photography and I think the path to more freedom is simplifying the process as much as possible.
So I thought it would be great to know how I could properly back-up my photos, while travelling, without carrying extra heavy / voluminous gear. The simplest way would be to get a 256 Gb SD card and insert it into Slot 2 of my Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera, with the menu setting switched to “Backup”. As I fill the much smaller SD card in Slot 1 and change it with another formatted one, I make sure that everything I shoot go also on the huge SD card in Slot 2.
Another option would be to transfer the files to a different storage, safely, like an external HDD (or a more expensive SSD). But on the cheaper side, we could also use a small USB stick. This is the solution I was exploring recently and I’ll try to show the tests I’ve made and the impressions I had using this backup option.
First, the RAVPOWER FileHub RP-WD03 is a compact gadget that is the essential part of this kit. It’s a small device that can be controlled wirelessly via your smartphone, or your PC and acts also as an external battery and a wireless router.
After installing the FileHub Plus App and configuring the FileHub, I have transferred the photos that I took with Fujifilm X-Pro2, JPEG only, FINE quality, 24 MP during one day of the last weekend. There are 95 JPEG files for a total of 1,25 Gb of data. This data is transferred to USB sticks from different SD card, using RAVPOWER FileHub.
In the test I have used 4 ordinary SD cards as described here:
- Kingston 90 Mb/s 1/10 – 16 Gb
- Kingston 90 Mb/s 3/10 – 128 Gb
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 Mb/s 3/10 – 16 Gb
- Lexar Professional 400X Speed 1/10 – 16 Gb
The destination for file backup was 2 USB 3.0 sticks as described below:
- SanDisk 3.0 – 128 Gb
- Kingston DT micro Duo 3.0 – 64 Gb
Kingston 90 Mb/s 1/10 – 16 Gb with SanDisk 3.0 – 128 Gb = 09 min 09 sec
Kingston 90 Mb/s 1/10 – 16 Gb with Kingston DT micro Duo 3.0 – 64 Gb = 11 min 32 sec
Kingston 90 Mb/s 3/10 – 128 Gb with Kingston DT micro Duo 3.0 – 64 Gb = 10 min 07 sec
Kingston 90 Mb/s 3/10 – 128 Gb with SanDisk 3.0 – 128 Gb = 09 min 11 sec
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 Mb/s 3/10 – 16 Gb with SanDisk 3.0 – 128 Gb = 09 min 04 sec
SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 Mb/s 3/10 – 16 Gb with Kingston DT micro Duo 3.0 – 64 Gb = 12 min 52 sec
Lexar Professional 400X Speed 1/10 – 16 Gb with Kingston DT micro Duo 3.0 – 64 Gb = 11 min 19 sec
Lexar Professional 400X Speed 1/10 – 16 Gb with SanDisk 3.0 – 128 Gb = 09 min 15 sec
There are many factors that could affect the transfer speed and the most obvious in those tests are the type of USB stick and the speed of each SD card. Also, we could have different results if we transfer 1 file of 1 Gb instead of 100 files that make 1 Gb in total, or if we use an external HDD, or even an SSD.
But this test is very relevant to the type of situation I will probably deal with when travelling as a photographer, wanting to securely back up my photo files using the most compact gear and probably the cheapest solution.
In this test, I had to transfer 95 JPEG files that took 1.25 Gb of space, or 95 JPEG files that go from 10,2 Mb the smallest to 15,3 Mb the largest, resulting an average size of 12,75 Mb. The only cases where the transfer time was less than 10 minutes were when I have used the new USB stick from SanDisk. It’s quite clear there is a difference in speed between the 2 USB sticks. Knowing that, we observe only slight difference in speed between the 4 SD cards.
So, for the rounded figures, I need 10 minutes to transfer 100 photos that use 1,5 Gb of storage. The worst part of this procedure is that I’ve encountered pauses during the transfer, when the screen of my smartphone went in Sleep Mode. And Android isn’t very versatile in customizing specific settings for specific apps. I needed to make sure the FileHub Plus App works without pauses and for that I needed the Always On mode for my screen. You can go to Settings and activate Always On (if you have this option), or better, you can install an App like Caffeine, that will help you assign the Always On screen mode to specific applications on your phone (in this case, FileHub Plus App). I did that, in order to ensure continuous transfer of my files. This problem is the main bug that should be addressed to in a future firmware update of RAVPOWER RP-WD03.
Then, I decided to test the transfer speed using 2 external HDDs: ADATA Superior SH14 – 1 Tb and WD My Passport – 4 Tb and the results are:
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 Mb/s 3/10 – 16 Gb with WD My Passport – 4 Tb = 09 min 09 sec
- Kingston 90 Mb/s 3/10 – 128 Gb with WD My Passport – 4 Tb = 08 min 44 sec
- Kingston 90 Mb/s 3/10 – 128 Gb with ADATA Superior SH14 – 1 Tb = 08 min 36 sec
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 Mb/s 3/10 – 16 Gb with ADATA Superior SH14 – 1 Tb = 08 min 44 sec
It seems there are some differences when using an external HDD instead of a USB stick and it could offer “unlimited” storage space” for your travel needs. But, the speed gain isn’t really a significant progress and an external HDD takes more space in your bag, not to mention that spinning its disks will consume more energy from the FileHub RP-WD03’s battery.
In conclusion let me state 3 Pros and Cons related to this backup solution on-the-go:
It’s very compact, it’s cheap and it works as a wireless router and a 6000 mAh external battery. But the speed transfer is quite slow, the transfer stops when the smartphone screen was turned off (the FileHub can also be used via your PC, but my purpose in buying it was to avoid the use of my PC) and the user interface could be more friendly. I would like to see an option for “Properties” for each folder. There is room for improvement, but until there is a budget of 350 euro for a WD Wireless 500 Gb SSD external drive with built-in SD card reader, that could probably do this task better and faster, this kiwi sized FileHub still has the advantage of the compactness and the friendly price: 40 euro.
All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2018 / www.sebastianboatca.com