How to Backup and Protect Your Files Whilst on the Road

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Picture the scene: You’ve been traveling for 6 months with your laptop. During this time you’ve had dozens of amazing travel adventures, and you’ve documented each and every one with hundreds of digital photos and videos using your digital camera.

As you’ve been using your laptop, you’ve decided to write a travel diary. This diary is now tens of thousands of words long, and is stored as a document on your computer.

In addition to this, you also have scanned copies of your passport and other important travel documents saved on your computer just in case.

One day, right before you’re due to return home, your computer breaks and you lose everything. Let’s say it picked up a virus after you downloaded something, or you dropped it and now it won’t turn on. Or maybe it gets stolen by a not-so-friendly local.

The point here is that these things (i.e. your pictures, videos, documents, etc) are too valuable to risk losing, and should be backed up and protected properly when you’re traveling.

On this page we’ll look at how to avoid keeping sensitive data on your computer, how to backup your files online and the pros and cons of external hard-drives.

Cloud computing

Keep it in the Cloud

‘Cloud computing’ seems to be all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why (providing you have access to the internet).

Working 100% from ‘the cloud’ isn’t a good idea while traveling (as a lot of the time you won’t have access to the internet), but it most definitely is a good idea to backup your files online whenever you get the chance.

One way to store your files online is to use Dropbox. It’s incredibly simple and easy to use, and is used by lots of travelers I’ve met. You can get a basic 2gb account for free, or for $9.99 a month you can get a 50gb account.

An alternative to Dropbox is BackBlaze. For $3.96 a month you get unlimited storage and automatic backups.

For example, as soon as you save a photo onto your laptop it’s being uploaded to your BackBlaze account (providing you’re online). Your computer is synced up so that this all happens automatically in the background.

Another great thing about BackBlaze is that it will continue to store files that you’ve deleted for 30 days, so if you deleted something by accident you still have 30 days to retrieve it online. Not bad!

If you’re planning on writing a travel diary, make sure to upload it online via a blogging platform (such as or something similar). You don’t have to tell anyone it’s up there (if you don’t want people reading it), but it’ll mean it’s nicely backed up and sites such as are perfect for writing travel diaries.

Upload Your Photos Online

Flickr is a great website that allows you to upload high-resolution photos, and for around $20 a year you can upload and store as many pictures as you like.

From Flickr’s website:

“If you have a pro account, we also store your high-resolution originals, which you can download at anytime as long as you remain Pro. Anyone can access public photos and download the high-resolution (original) size from a Pro account”

Alternatives to Flickr include Picasa and SmugMug.

If you don’t want to pay to upload your photos (and don’t mind losing out on the resolution), why not upload them to Facebook? Seeing as everyone and their dog uses Facebook these days, it’s a great way to keep your friends and family up-to-date on where you’re going and what you’re doing.

Use Hard Drives (But Not Exclusively)

When I go traveling with a laptop I like take a miniature external hard-drive with me (such as the Western Digital Passport which I can highly recommend) that I’ll use to back-up all of my work/photos on (as it’s quick and easy).

That being said, hard-drives can’t be completely trusted. They can still break, be lost or get stolen (just like your computer can)

Alternatively (and depending on how much you want to back-up), you could buy a cheap thumb-drive or an SD card (like the one in your digital camera) and use these to back-up your files/photos. The benefit of using something this small is that you can always mail it home once it’s full up (meaning you won’t lose it on the road).

Avoid Keeping Sensitive Date on Your Computer

Never keep sensitive information (such as passwords, usernames and bank details) saved on your computer in documents (no matter how cleverly you think you’ve disguised or hidden the file), as there is simply no need.

If you have a Google account you can just as easily save this information online on your Google Docs account (which is what I do).

Also, if you have important documents (such as a scanned copy of your passport) why not simply email them to yourself (so they’ll reside in your email inbox) until you need them, instead of storing them on your computer where they could be stolen.

For more information and further reading on traveling with computers, check out: ‘How to travel with a laptop’.

Related posts:

  1. How to Protect Your Backpack from Thieves
  2. How Accessible Is Internet Access Whilst Traveling?

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  • Pretraveller

    So many people forget to back up their files as they travel.

    A few years ago our digital camera was stolen off my shoulder while we were wandering through Assisi, Italy. Fortunately we had backed up our photos only the day before and were still in the area. After purchasing a replacement camera we were able to re take the photos which we had lost.

    If we had not been careful about backing up our photos I hate to think how many photos we could have lost forever.