Today’s Question: Regarding your answer about backing up hard drives while traveling, what do you think of simply capturing images to two media cards to avoid the additional weight of hard drives in the first place?
Tim’s Quick Answer: This is mostly a good strategy, as long as your camera supports recording to multiple cards at the same time. However, this approach includes the risk of permanently losing photos if your camera is lost, and in most cases does not provide a backup solution for video captures.
More Detail: In my recent answer about backing up while traveling, I explained that I travel with pairs of hard drives, frequently updating the backup drive based on the master drive through the use of synchronization software (http://timgrey.me/greybackup).
This approach, of course, means that I am often traveling with more than a few hard drives. That can be challenging in many cases, of course, but in my case I generally need access to photos and data when I am traveling for extended periods of time.
If you don’t have a need to bring hard drives for photos and other data, simply configuring your camera to record photos to two media cards at the same time provides you with a reasonable backup solution.
Of course, this means you need to have a camera that supports writing data to two cards at the same time. And as noted above, many cameras with this option are only able to write photos to two cards, with video captures only being written to a single card.
In addition, if you are using this approach, I recommend trying to keep the two cards stored separately to the extent possible. It is also important to keep in mind that when writing photos to two cards in the camera, if the camera is lost you will have lost the photos on the cards in the camera, since there would be no opportunity for an external backup.
When traveling there is no perfect solution for keeping your data safe. The key is to do your best to balance the safety of your photos and other important data with convenience. Backing up in some form along the way helps, and you might even incorporate an online backup as part of your overall workflow in order to ensure you have a backup stored at a completely different location as well.