Monday, December 9, 2013

Backing Up Files on iPad - One Step Closer - My Travel Backup System

Pogoplug Series 4 Sharing Device
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I've gone through several devices looking for the best way to backup files during travel with my Apple iPad (not requiring me to carry a laptop computer). I was looking for a way to backup raw files and jpegs, even when I may not have access to the internet. I tried multiple wireless hard disks that were advertised as having the ability to move files from the iPad; none of them worked.
What I've been doing in the face of this failure is basically making sure I have two copies of every file in a very basic way. I always carry enough SD cards that I don't have to format them during my travel. After filling one up (or after a day of shooting), I use the Apple Camera Connect kit to plug the SD into the iPad and transfer files. This gives me tens of Gigabytes of backup, and the iPad automatically moves both raw and jpeg files. Then, I put the SD away in a different case, so that I remember it's full. Now I have one copy on the SD, and one on the iPad, without the need for an internet connection.
Once I'm connected to the internet again, I can upload files to flickr, but that's pretty darned slow in my experience. That's where this little beauty comes in. The Pogoplug is a network file sharing device that you plug in to your network at home. Then, you connect storage to it - this can be anything from an SD card, to a USB hard drive (USB3 that is), or directly connect a hard drive that has the 2.5" SATA interface. I had a 1Tb Iomega USB drive that I connected for now. It gives you a dedicated connection, which makes it much faster than uploading to flickr.
So, once you've got that going, you download the Pogoplug app for the iPad (from the Apple App Store). It's free. You can set it up so that anytime you're connected to the internet and the app is open (yes, it must be open), the system will automatically backup your jpeg files from your iPad Camera Roll to the hard drive at home, no matter where you are. This is handy, especially if you use a wifi-enabled camera (like my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 or Lumix DMC-TS5) to upload to the iPad. Then it's all seamless.
Here's the limitation - both Lumix wifi and Pogoplug are limited to only jpegs - they won't upload raw files.
So, my workaround (assuming I need to backup raw files) is this - I don't use wifi to transfer from the camera to the iPad, but use the Apple Camera Connect as stated above to get a second copy of my jpegs and raw files onto the iPad. Then, the Pogoplug app requires that I go in and select the images in my Imported folder on the iPad for upload to the disk at home. Easy, and quite fast. It will be even faster when I get a dedicated hard drive directly connected to the Pogoplug.
So, what does this give me? Two copies of all files, and a third of the jpegs only:
  1. The original raw and jpeg files stored on the SD card I used in the camera.
  2. Second copies of both raw and jpeg files imported to the iPad (using the Apple Camera Connect kit).
  3. Third copies of jpegs only backed up on the Pogoplug hard drive at home. These would save me if I dropped my camera bag and iPad into the ocean or something.
This means I have to carry a lot of SD cards, but they're small, lightweight, highly reliable, and relatively low cost.
I don't like that the Pogoplug app will only copy jpegs, but the silver lining is that upload of jpegs is very fast. Maybe they'll add raw capability in a firmware upgrade. Wouldn't that be great?
The Pogoplug adapter is very inexpensive. Purchase yours at the link below.