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Hard Drive / Photo Storage while on a tour?

Old 03-16-16, 03:18 PM
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seaniccus
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Hard Drive / Photo Storage while on a tour?

Hey 'yall -- I'm leaving soon on a 6-8 week tour, and I'm worried about photo storage -- i take a lot of pictures and want to shoot raw for this trip if possible, and between the large photos and the gopro video, I'm a little worried about storage.

What are your experiences with HDD and photo storage on long bike tours? Does the bumpy road tend to damage disc drives (my biggest concern)? What kind of recommendations do you have?

Edit: I'm not asking to be talked out of a hard drive here. SD cards alone will be insufficient for my purposes.

Last edited by seaniccus; 03-16-16 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 03-16-16, 03:33 PM
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Is your memory requirement so great that a 32GB SD card or two is insufficient? Large capacity SD cards are so affordable now, can't imagine why you would need something different.

How are you transferring the data to your memory media?
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Old 03-16-16, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Is your memory requirement so great that a 32GB SD card or two is insufficient? Large capacity SD cards are so affordable now, can't imagine why you would need something different.

How are you transferring the data to your memory media?
This image should help: http://media.digitalcameraworld.com/...eat_sheet2.jpg

If shooting in Raw + Jpeg, a 32GB card becomes woefully small. Plus, I'm not prepared to throw my faith in keeping all my photos just on their card for almost two months, and further not interested in limiting myself to only the amount of data available in those cards. I'll also be using a GoPro for various footage, and that takes up TONS of space as well.

I'll be transferring to / from HDD storage using a USB-equipped windows tablet, but I can't rely on it for storage itself -- it only has 60gb internal storage and quite a lot of that is already taken up by the operating system and other files. Not adequate.
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Old 03-16-16, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Is your memory requirement so great that a 32GB SD card or two is insufficient? Large capacity SD cards are so affordable now, can't imagine why you would need something different.

How are you transferring the data to your memory media?
Regular old SD cards are near-indestructible. They're waterproof, they don't break easily, and they can easily be copied using your computer. Just grab like five to ten of them, and mail one home every now and then for safety if you want.

You can get super-high capacity cards, but it takes me a long time to fill a 16Gb card shooting raw. If you had multiple cards, you can probably save money buying a bulk pack of smaller cards like 16GB.

Last but not least, I use wifi (when available) to back up everything online. Google Photos is my favorite, but Flickr is also good.
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Old 03-16-16, 03:58 PM
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SD cards alone aren't going to work for my purposes, though I am taking several. Between the video footage and shooting in RAW, I want to have back up drives for local storage. Also, because my trip is international, I'm not planning to ship things back partway through, that's pretty expensive and unecessary -- besides, i'd need someone to verify the files are safe on the other end before deleting locally, and I don' thave anyone to do that.

I will, of course, be making online backups whenever I get the chance, but with the video files, they'll easily get large enough that I don't want to rely on this. Free WiFi isn't that common where we're going, and even when it is around, it isn't fast enough to handle large files in a short period of time.
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Old 03-16-16, 04:11 PM
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Then Buy a Lap Top with a SSHD. I'm a computer Neanderthal and I Know that Much.

No I'm Not going to tell you which one .

I toured with 35mm film cameras .
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Old 03-16-16, 04:12 PM
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Raw will eat up a lot of space. My wife and I used about 90-100 GB of storage on our last tour (2 months). Our usual procedure is to first do some cursory editing on the camera's card. We then download to our netbook, which has about a 300GB drive. We also keep the pictures on the SD cards until we get home and then back them up on DVDs. We each carry about 96GB capacity in SD cards, with the largest a 32 GB, and the rest 8s and 16s. I don't want to carry too many pictures on one card. The majority of our pictures are not shot in RAW, and we still run into storage challenges. On one tour we shot almost 10,000 pictures, at about 8-10 MB per picture. My RAW images are about 26 MB. If shooting RAW plus JPEG that would eat up a lot of card space in a hurry; about 900 images on a 32GB card. If card space runs short, it is easy to do a little more critical editing and free up some card space.

Thumb drives will also work.

We've used our netbook a total of 10-12,000 miles of some pretty tough touring conditions, and have not had any problems with it. The disc is locked when the machine is turned off.

Last edited by Doug64; 03-16-16 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 03-16-16, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by seaniccus View Post
SD cards alone aren't going to work for my purposes, though I am taking several. Between the video footage and shooting in RAW, I want to have back up drives for local storage. Also, because my trip is international, I'm not planning to ship things back partway through, that's pretty expensive and unecessary -- besides, i'd need someone to verify the files are safe on the other end before deleting locally, and I don' thave anyone to do that.

I will, of course, be making online backups whenever I get the chance, but with the video files, they'll easily get large enough that I don't want to rely on this. Free WiFi isn't that common where we're going, and even when it is around, it isn't fast enough to handle large files in a short period of time.
I hope someone reads this... this is gonna get a bit longer:

Honestly... A very expensive, very burly and heavy solid-state external drive, 500GB or so, will be less reliable than 5-10 SD cards. SD cards will always be my storage choice, simply because they are indestructible.

Since you're asking about rough roads affecting a drive, i am guessing it has been a while since you have considered storage, since almost no external drives use any moving parts anymore. All use a solid-state drive, which is all digital with no "writing" in the traditional sense of a physical mechanism.

This makes them extremely tolerable to vibration and such. You can keep your drive wherever you want, it won't take on any damage from movement.

HOWEVER:

The vast majority of external hard drives on Amazon, Ebay, and the like are cheaply made, mass-produced in the most cost-efficient way possible. The ones that are actually sturdier and more aggressively built for travel are much more expensive.

With an external hard drive, you are adding a lot of "features" and "mechanisms" to your flash drive. The USB ports, power input, and all internal wiring are all "vulnerabilities," in a sense, to corrosion, dust, melting, water damage, etc. There's a lot of little internal connections and capacitors that could be damaged on an international bike tour. The individual card approach I mentioned before limits the impact of all these factors, since the tiny waterproof cards are much simpler, do not require a USB cord, do not require any additional power cords, or anything else. You just plug them directly into your computer or tablet (if it has a card reader) or into a small USB stick reader, which I have several of.

The benefit of carrying a couple of USB readers and a handful of SD cards is that you have redundancy. You are not reliant on any individual piece of hardware to completely protect your photos and videos. The cost of multiple SD cards isn't unreasonable... you can get 640GB of storage for $150 or so, which is more than a 500GB external drive, but again, there are benefits and the 10 cards will probably still weigh less than a single external drive.

10 x 64GB cards should allow space for you to save about ~30,000 pictures and several hours of video. Or, half that amount written twice for redundancy. Lots of room for even a much longer trip. if you want a solution for a YEAR of travel, you will have to mail some stuff home and get new storage along the way. There's no such thing as a free lunch!

So, if protection from damage is your highest priority, go with the simple SD card and NOT a questionably made, overly complicated external drive.

My opinion!

Last edited by mdilthey; 03-16-16 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 03-16-16, 04:27 PM
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Solid State Drives are common, but they've hardly replaced traditional hard drives at all, man. Non-SSD externals are still very common, though yes, not as good at putting up with vibration. That's why I'm asking around here if anybody has had any trouble with drive failures on the road -- I know an SSD won't have issue with that, but high-capacity SSDs are pretty expensive. I usually use them for my boot drives on home PCs though.

As I said before, a SD-card only trip is not happening. That's a bad choice for redundancy. Everything will remain on the SD card its shot on in addition to being transferred to some sort of backup, with the exception of the gopro which will produce far more footage than I have MicroSD cards for. I appreciate the opinion, but I'm not willing to limit myself to one media.
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Old 03-16-16, 04:37 PM
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Upload them to the cloud for Gods sake. Why on Earth would you want to ride around trying to protect data... when it can be stored safely on servers?
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Old 03-16-16, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Upload them to the cloud for Gods sake. Why on Earth would you want to ride around trying to protect data... when it can be stored safely on servers?
By the numbers...

File Transfer | The Cloud Calculator
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Old 03-16-16, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by seaniccus View Post

I'm not asking to be talked out of a hard drive here. SD cards alone will be insufficient for my purposes.

a SD-card only trip is not happening.

You detailed what you want:

1. Durability
2. Reliable Storage
3. Recommendations

A lot of people are talking about Solid-State and SSD cards, and you're pushing back.

Rather than bolding not interested in SSD cards, why don't you tell us WHY these cards are insufficient for your purposes. That will help people offer an alternative solution.

Storage space, cost, durability... pick two.
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Old 03-16-16, 05:50 PM
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I carried mini USB sticks with me. You can get them so small (physically) that you'll hardly even notice them but they can hold up to ... well, I've seen 512GB.

http://www.amazon.com/Gaina-Metal-51.../dp/B017SSVIFW
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Old 03-16-16, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post

Rather than bolding not interested in SSD cards, why don't you tell us WHY these cards are insufficient for your purposes. That will help people offer an alternative solution.

Storage space, cost, durability... pick two.
What you personally have been proposing is already going to happen anyway (yes I'm going to use SD cards), just not exclusively. As I already said, I'm seeking additional redundancy in another format. I'm not interested in only ONE storage format, which I've repeated at least three times now, to which each time you have encouraged using only one storage format. I get it man, you think SD cards are enough on their own. I disagree. Knowing that I disagree, suggesting it again isn't going to change that.

...further...

Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
You detailed what you want:

1. Durability
2. Reliable Storage
3. Recommendations

A lot of people are talking about Solid-State and SSD cards, and you're pushing back.
If we're going to be pedantic here, I didn't actually request that. What I did ask for was...

What are your experiences with HDD and photo storage on long bike tours? Does the bumpy road tend to damage disc drives (my biggest concern)? What kind of recommendations do you have?
I'm asking for people who have used HDD to tell me what they used and if they had any horror stories I should be aware of. I already know it's possible for the vibrations to cause some issues. I also already know that SSDs have less issue with this, but, as I stated, higher capacity models are more expensive and I'm asking around to see what other options folks have used. You proposed using only SD cards, that's a great suggestion! I just decided it doesn't work for me as the only storage option. I want to back up the data on another format as well. You suggested only SD card again, which, as I already stated, isn't good enough for me. So I put that preference in bold just to be clear.

We disagree. And that's totally cool! Now that we know that we disagree about that, I'm interested in hearing about people's on-the-road data backup experiences that were not SD-card only. You've got to understand here, I agree with you that SD cards are great, but I don't want them as my only data storage option over a two month period of time. I want to use them in addition to something else. That might be a HDD enclosure with an SDD in it. It might not be, maybe someone has found a more cost effective, but ruggidized vibration resistant platter drive they'd like to recommend. I don't know yet.

Speaking of...

Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Upload them to the cloud for Gods sake. Why on Earth would you want to ride around trying to protect data... when it can be stored safely on servers?
Like I said earlier, where I'm going doesn't have a lot of publically available wifi, and we'll be doing a lot of camping besides. Even if it did, the upload times for large quantities of data are extremely slow in the best of conditions. I'm going to upload every chance I get, but being prepared means being ready for not being able to upload ever.

Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
This guy gets it.
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Old 03-16-16, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I carried mini USB sticks with me. You can get them so small (physically) that you'll hardly even notice them but they can hold up to ... well, I've seen 512GB.

Amazon.com: Gaina Mini Metal 512GB USB Flash Drive Keychain Style Silver: Computers & Accessories
Keys might be an option, but I find many of them within a good price range don't store much more than an SD card. Typically, it's cheaper to get a regular SSD or lots of small thumbsticks if you can find a deal. Worth considering though!

Don't buy that one, by the way . The one pictured there is a scam drive, it won't actually store 512. This is really common with SD cards coming out of China, too -- they mess with the card so it reads on the PC as 500gb, but it actually only has like 2gb of storage on it. Trying to put anything over that real (and undisclosed) amount will leave you with lost data. It's a frustrating, but pretty common scam. If you see any data priced this cheap, please please compare it to other like products from companies you know and trust. If it's unbelievably cheap (like this $20 drive) don't believe it!
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Old 03-16-16, 06:18 PM
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Ok seannicus, that long post was a great deconstruction of an argument you've completely invented. I don't want to know that you "disagree with me and that's okay." I don't want to disagree at all. I'm pouring my time into trying to help you.

All I want to know is WHY you disagree with the cards. You want multiple storage options... multiple cards offers that. More than one place where your photos live.

I still don't understand the problem. I do not see where SD cards limit you, other than you deciding I'm wrong for having suggested them.



If you can please detail what SD cards fail to provide, I will help find something that fills the gap.
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Old 03-16-16, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by seaniccus View Post
Keys might be an option, but I find many of them within a good price range don't store much more than an SD card. Typically, it's cheaper to get a regular SSD or lots of small thumbsticks if you can find a deal. Worth considering though!

Don't buy that one, by the way . The one pictured there is a scam drive, it won't actually store 512. This is really common with SD cards coming out of China, too -- they mess with the card so it reads on the PC as 500gb, but it actually only has like 2gb of storage on it. Trying to put anything over that real (and undisclosed) amount will leave you with lost data. It's a frustrating, but pretty common scam. If you see any data priced this cheap, please please compare it to other like products from companies you know and trust. If it's unbelievably cheap (like this $20 drive) don't believe it!
Yeah, I figured that one looked incredibly and suspiciously cheap.

They're selling 256GB flash drives here in Australia, at one of the reputable shops, for nearly $200.
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Old 03-16-16, 06:23 PM
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I think it's worth noting by the way, that an SSD card is a flash storage drive. Just because it's a smaller size does not mean it's inherently different.

Flash storage is any type of data repository or storage system that uses flash memory.
Flash memory is ubiquitous in small computing devices and becoming more common for larger applications. The size and complexity of flash-based systems varies for storage in wearable computing devices, embedded systems, smartphones, portable USB drives and more, all the way up to enterprise-class all-flash arrays. Flash is packaged in a variety of formats for different storage purposes.
Bigger is not always better. Here's a made-in-china 500GB flash drive opened up:


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Old 03-16-16, 06:26 PM
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+1 for solid state drives a just get a bunch of them as cheap as you can find. I love the idea of mailing them to yourself every once in a while just in case things go south.
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Old 03-16-16, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post

All I want to know is WHY you disagree with the cards. You want multiple storage options... multiple cards offers that.
Originally Posted by seaniccus
As I already said, I'm seeking additional redundancy in another format.


I don't know how to say it any more clearly. SD cards can fail for their own reasons. Maybe water can't damage them, but they can get crushed or lost. They can fail in other ways. No single form of data storage is perfect, and I prefer to have redundancy that doesn't have the same flaws as my other backup solutions. You don't have to agree or understand that I don't want a one-format redundancy solution, but please accept it.
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Old 03-16-16, 06:30 PM
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Is this much of any issue anymore for photographs? I only shoot RAW at 21MPix, resulting in each image being about 25MB. Recently I spent three months on the road, internationally, and half the memory cards I took with me came back home empty. Video will be another matter, of course...
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Old 03-16-16, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
I think it's worth noting by the way, that an SSD card is a flash storage drive. Just because it's a smaller size does not mean it's inherently different.



Bigger is not always better. Here's a made-in-china 500GB flash drive opened up:

Aw yeah, this is another fairly common scam you get. I bet that flash drive was even tooled to show more storage than it actual contains, too.

I'm more wondering what people's experiences are with portable platter drives. WD and Seatgate still make a ton of non solid-state externals, and I've rarely had one fail on me, but I've never taken one on the trail before. In your backpack for a few flights is a bit different than possibly bouncing around in a pannier. Wondering if anybody here has had any physical failures like that before.
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Old 03-16-16, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Abu Mahendra View Post
Is this much of any issue anymore for photographs? I only shoot RAW at 21MPix, resulting in each image being about 25MB. Recently I spent three months on the road, internationally, and half the memory cards I took with me came back home empty. Video will be another matter, of course...
tbh video is the real killer. Photos I could probably sneak by with minimal extra storage, but video leaves you with HUGE files and you need to stow them somewhere. I don't want to "store" them on YouTube either, so i can have maximum quality when I edit at home.
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Old 03-16-16, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by seaniccus View Post
I don't know how to say it any more clearly. SD cards can fail for their own reasons. Maybe water can't damage them, but they can get crushed or lost. They can fail in other ways. No single form of data storage is perfect, and I prefer to have redundancy that doesn't have the same flaws as my other backup solutions. You don't have to agree or understand that I don't want a one-format redundancy solution, but please accept it.
A regular drive can also get crushed or lost. Not seeing the problem. Maybe (like I suspected) the problem has nothing to do with the drives.

At any rate, it seems to me you're only here to reinforce the decision you've already made (a vibration-sensitive traditional hard drive that costs more, weighs more, and holds less). You aren't asking a question, really, you're just hoping somebody tells you a bulky drive is the best, either because you already have one or because you want to reinforce your own expertise.

There's a chorus of people singing "There's a better way!" and you're trying to pick a fight with me instead. Hopefully the last hour I spent is useful to someone a bit more open-minded. If I sound annoyed, it's because I am. I was trying to be helpful and gently say "Here's why this solution is great!" and all I got from you is condescension. This isn't my job (well, it kind of is...)— from the first minute I set foot in here, I wanted to help you find the best possible way to enjoy your trip and keep your photos and video safe. I have no agenda.

But, whatever floats your boat, dude! Can't wait to see your pictures!
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Old 03-16-16, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
If I sound annoyed, it's because I am.
Look man, I don't have an agenda either. I'm open to lots of options -- I agree with the folks that said SSDs are a good solution, and I've been googling around looking for deals that fit my budget.... but you repeatedly have tried to argue for a one-format solution. I don't want a one-format solution. For some reason, you're not okay with that. From your perspective, I'm somehow trying to fight you because "I've already decided," which isn't true. From my perspective? You seem like a guy who is upset that someone doesn't agree with him that an SD-card only trip is the only possible solution anybody could take... to the extent that you're dismissing valid counterpoints. Yes, a larger drive, say an SSD or a platter drive CAN get crushed or lost, but not as easily as a smaller, more physical fragile (plastic vs metal) SD card. EVERY format has its advantages and disadvantages. I'm looking for perspective on people that have used different things. I don't know why you're offended that your solution isn't perfect for me and that I wish to have an additional redundancy on top of it.

My ride partner and I are discussing lots of solutions -- we have a shortlist of possible ruggadizzed HDD portables, a few SDD options and waterproof enclosures. We've eliminated most thumbsticks and SD-card only configurations largely because they're not cost effective per dollar.

I was trying to be helpful and gently say "Here's why this solution is great!


And I agreed with you repeatedly and explained that I wanted additional redundancy on top of that. From my perspective, you're the one picking a fight here, and are seemingly offended that I want to back up my data on more than one format. Yes. SD cards are good and reliable and I like them and I am literally going to use them a lot on the trip in almost exactly the way you described -- but I also want to back up that data another way just in case. I don't know why you have a problem with that.
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