How To Back Up Photos When Abroad

Losing a camera is annoying, losing all your photos of your adventure is far worst. Below is some advice on how you can backup your photos while travelling. These techniques do not require individiauls to pay for any software or services but are only suited to individuals who take a low volume of photos.

I take photos on my iPhone and Digital Camera, then store my images on my PC and in the cloud. This article, gives a brief description of what the cloud is, explains how you can manage the cloud via Windows Explorer or Finder (the Mac version of Windows Explorer), suggest ways in which you can manage multiple cloud accounts and gives you a detailed description on how I backup my photos. The techniques used to backup my iPhone photos, should also work on Android phones.

What is the Cloud

When you are travelling your technology can get stolen, lost or broken. At times all your technology will be together so may all be affected by the same problem, therefore when possible I backup my photos to the cloud. To put it a simplified and non technical way, this means storing your photos (or other files) online. There are a range of free and paid cloud services out there. I use the free versions of Dropbox and Google Drive.

The images stored in the Dropbox and Google Drive clouds can be accessed via a range of methods. You can go to the companies websites and both companies have iPhone, Android, PC and Mac software.

  • In this screenshot you can see how my Dropbox and Google Drive accounts have been linked with my Windows Explorer.


Making Changes in Windows Explorer

After installing Google Drive and Dropbox’s PC software, I can access the files stored on both clouds via Windows Explorer. In theory any changes you make in Windows Explorer or Finder will sync with the relevant cloud. This means when you use either companies smartphone app or website you should notice the changes.

Based on my experience I would discourage both Dropbox and Google Drive users from making too many changes in Windows Explorer or Finder in quick succesion. In my experience this has just resulted in files not getting correctly synced. If you want to reorganise the folder structure and backup lots of photos, then do the two activities in two seperate stages. Wait for one lot of changes to sync before you do the second lot of changes. Bear in mind that your internet upload speed will probably be considerably slower than the download speed.

If you have made changes in Windows Explorer or Finder you can check on the progress of the syncing by going to your taskbar and clicking on the Google Drive or Dropbox icons.

  • The Google Drive and Dropbox icons should appear in your taskbar. The Dropbox icon is the one on the right handside of the second row. The Google Drive icon is the one of the right handside of the third row.Task Bar Long Plus Top Trimmed.png
  • This is the Dropbox sycning screen. Dropbox Syncing  Long Top Trimmed2.png
  • This is the Google Drive sycning screen.Google Drive Syncing Progres (No Email Address) Long and Top Trimmed3.png

You can also visit each companies website or smartphone app and see if the changes appear there.

  • This is a screenshot of the Google Drive app on my phone. You can see how I have three Google Drive accounts linked to the app.Google Drive iPhone App Email Address Blurred Out

Managing Multiple Google Drive Accounts

Each free account comes with 15GB of space, rather than paying for more space I chose to set up new free accounts. The cheapest paid option gives you 100GB of space.  If you only need 20GB of space then it may be worth having two accounts. If you need 90GB of space then it is probably easier to just pay for the 100GB plan.

My three Google Drive accounts are called, and The account contains my 2000 – 2007 photos, my account contains my 2008 – 2014 photos. The account contains my 2015 to present photos.

If you want to have multiple accounts, you may find using the following techniques makes it easier to simultaneously manage the different accounts –

 When setting up a new account you can use a email address similar to your previous accounts such as and

• I use the same password for all the accounts.  Only photos are being stored in the accounts so it would not concern me if a hacker discovered the password.

• I create a logo for each of my Google Drive accounts. The logos allow me to quickly differentiate between the different accounts when using the iPhone app. My screenshot of the Google Drive iPhone app above shows my 1,2 and 3 logos in use.

  1. Creating the logos does not take long.  My logos were designed in Paint. The coulour, font size and font type were all just personal prefrences. Logos 1,2 and 3
  2. Then in Gmail click the circular button which in this instance is orange and contains the letter R. The letter corresponds with your forename. The colour will not neccesarily be orange.                                         Changing Logo
  3. Then I chose to resize the logo, I wanted to get rid of the white space. There is no harm in keeping the space, again it is a personal prefrence.    Resizing Logo in Gmail 2.PNG

My  account is currently linked with Windows Explorer.  In the past I have found it to be a slow and cumbersome process swapping the account which is linked with Windows Explorer.  I would only relink or with Windows Explorer if I wanted to make a radical change to either of them two accounts. If you want to link a new account with Windows Explorer or Finder then I recommend you follow the steps below.

  1. Go into Windows Explorer or Finder and copy the contents of Google Drive into a backup folder. You can store the backup folder anyway,  I like to put it on the Desktop. Copying PhotosBackup on Desktop
  2. Then click on Google Drive.   Task Bar Long2.png
  3. Then click on Settings (the 3 dots).Clicked Settings button Long
  4. Then click on Prefrences.     Prefrences Long.png
  5. Then click on the ‘Account’ button, then click on the ‘Disconnect account…..’ button.Prerences - Disconnect Screen
  6. Then click the ‘Disconnect’ button.Disconnect Button Pressed
  7. I would then clean out the contents of the Google Drive folder. If you have disconnected the account then cleaning out the contents of the Google Drive folder in Windows explorer should not cause the data to be wiped from the cloud. I make a backup to the Desktop just in case.Empty Google Drive.png
  8. Then once you have cleaned out the contents of the Google Drive folder I login to the other account. You can do this in the Accounts sections of Prefrences.

• If I want to quickly access photos which are on one of my Google Drive accounts which is not currently connected with Windows Explorer then I would use the Google Drive app or website. I personally find it much easier swapping between Google Drive accounts on the app and website  than via Windows Explorer or Finder.

It takes me under 15 minutes to set up a new Gmail account and create a new logo. If you are only taking 10-20 photos a day then each Google Drive account should be able to store 6+ months of irreplaceable photos. So I consider them 15 minutes well spent.

iPhone Photos

I make two backups of my iPhone photos, one in the cloud and one on my PC.  Backing up photos onto a PC or Mac is quick and straight forward. I have a folder called Pictures on my Desktop on my PC. Every couple of days I will plug my iPhone into my PC and copy the photos from my iPhone into the Picture folder.  You should be able to store your photos on your laptop without having hard drive space issues.

For the cloud backup I firstly use the Dropbox app. You can configure the app to automatically backup your photos (the name of the feature is Camera Upload).  The free Dropbox accounts come with 2GB of space, by turning on the camera upload feature you get another 3GB of space. I have managed to increase my space to 6.4GB by doing things such as liking Dropbox on Facebook. iPhone users can turn on the Camera Upload feature by following these instructions.

  1. Tap the ‘Settings’ button on the bottom right of the screen.
  2. Then tap the ‘Camera Upload’ button.Settings - Camera Upload 1st Screen - Long.png
  3. On the next screen, turn the ‘Camera Upload’ option on or off.Settings - Camera Upload 2nd Screen - Long.png
  4. If you want your photos to get backed up over a 4G network then turn on the ‘Use Celluar Data’ function.

Android users can turn on the Camera Upload feature by following these instructions.

  1. Tap the ‘Menu’ button from the Dropbox app.
  2. Tap the gear icon (or Settings for older versions of the app).
  3. Scroll to the Camera Upload section.
  4. Tap to either turn on or off Camera Upload.

When there is no space left in my Dropbox account, I will go into Windows Explorer and put a copy of the photos in my Dropbox account, into my newest Google Drive account. Once the photos have been synced with the Google Drive cloud,  I will remove from my Dropbox account.  

Digital Camera

My iPhone and Digital Camera photos are backed up onto my PC in the identical way, but I use slightly different methods for making a cloud back up of the photos on each device. When backing up my Digital Camera photos to the cloud I will not use Dropbox.  Every few days I plug my camera into the PC and put a copy of the photos on the memory card, into my newest Google Drive account. 

Backing Up Your Photos UsingFacebook

When you upload photos to Facebook they will get compressed. This will not happen when you put photos in Dropbox or Google Drive. I consider Facbeook a good way to share photos but not a good way to back them up.

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