Backup Your Travel Photos NOW! and more…

When you get home from your holidays, within the first week there are two important things I strongly recommend you do with your travel photo and video files. Make backups and a “BEST of the Trip” folder.

What I ask is important, rather simple and takes maybe 30 minutes of your time.

Backup  – make 2-3 copies of originals, rename, sort, tag, and catalog

  1. copy trip content from memory cards to hard drive (HD) as a “Work in Progress” set
  2. delete any obvious mistakes, duds, duplicates
  3. rename files/folders, organize files
  4. tag and catalog files (optional)
  5. duplicate your “Work” set to another HD as the Archive set
  6. delete camera memory cards for reuse

Quick Edit – make “Best of ” folder, sort, resize, transfer

  1. find your best photos and a few videos that highlight the trip
  2. copy to a “Best of the Trip” folder
  3. resize files down to screen viewing sizes
  4. transfer to phone, tablet, upload to sites

computer sheildUsually when we get home after a trip, life and work gets in the way, and often we will forget or postpone a few critical steps to safeguard our travel memories. Please consider finding time to do these basic tasks…then you can mow the lawn.

This will ensure that if there is any chance of losing or damaging your travel photo collection, there is a backup recovery plan that you can rely on.

I shouldn’t have to emphasize that one of the items in life you can rarely replace are the unique and personal images and videos you have created.  This becomes even more evident when you consider replacing what you shot requires going back to distant lands and hoping to see the same things as they were and be with the same people as before… Yes, very unlikely to happen!

You may need various software products to simplify and automate some of these tasks.  This makes the work easier and you spend less time, as some of the tasks are done automatically every time you transfer new media content.

Beyond this you can find time weeks or months later to edit your photos some more, to make prints or perhaps build a travelogue photobook, slideshow or movies etc.


This is the most important task you would do with your holiday photos and videos.  The key point here is to create more than one copy of your original work as soon as you can; now you are covered.

Here is the workflow:

1 – Copy (not move) your original files from the camera memory cards to a reliable hard drive on your main (fastest) home computer that has 100GB+ of space as a reserve. You want keep your original camera(s) files, on the cards, till you are certain that the copies are truly done and sound.

This first set of originals from your trip will become your “Work in Progress” set.

You are in the future to use this directory set of content to edit and share with. But for now we are not going to open and do any edits to the files.  You are just renaming files, which has no effect on the original pictures.

2 – Delete any obvious mistakes and poor quality shots that cannot be fixed later (if in doubt save elsewhere for later). These out-takes just clog up your storage space, multiple times.

3 – Add a folder structure and rename files how you see fit, your system of organizing, you do have on, right?  Organize your trip photos files and video clips by date, location, event, people…so years from now it still makes sense.

Being organized from the beginning will save you mountains of time now, and years from now when you’re trying to sort through those many trips you were  on.

4 – With the aid of a media management program you can catalog and tag files with colour flags, star/number ratings, and EXIF data notations regarding important details to save for the future on locations, people’s names, copyright info, etc. This is an optional step, only if you want to be more detailed.

5 – Once you are satisfied that all is in order with this first set, duplicate it to another storage medium.

6 – Then once you have 2-3 sets duplicates elsewhere, free up your phone or camera memory space by deleting them.

Personally, I split my holiday photos and videos into two separate locations on my computer. I just seem to wish to organize it that way, even though most times these files will meet again in future slide show and travel movie projects.

Not only do you want to make two or three copies of your original photos and videos sets, but they should be physically on different devices, and if you can, these devices should be in different locations too.

These other original sets are to be your Archives. No changes are to be made to them and they should be left as a resource for finding the original files when disaster strikes.

That means duplicating the files to a tablet, home computer hard drive, other memory cards, DVD / CD discs or a cloud service of your choice.

If you copy your files to two separate hard drives on your computer there is still a risk if that computer gets damaged or stolen.  Leaving your external hard drive at a different location (like a nearby family member) is a sound solution if the worst happens and your home is robbed or destroyed.

I like to burn my best photos and videos to DVD discs. To me this seems fairly permanent and is on a larger medium than tiny memory cards or a fragile spinning HD.  This unfortunately is a short term solution for backing up, as depending on the quality of your disks, they may only last 15 or 20 years(?) before the plastic disc fails.

Also you’re likely aware that any hard disk drive will eventually fail too, so never put 100% of your faith in any one backup solution.

There is also what they call the Cloud online services that offer free or paid storage space so you can backup your files during your trip or when you get home. These storage spaces could even be part of a printing service but I would never consider them long term, archival or permanent. Stuff happens and one day who knows?

Cloud storage is not my favorite choice as photos and video files can get rather large and be problematic when transferring on the road with poor internet connections.

They call this in the computer world a bit of redundancy for your travelogue memories.

Now you are halfway there…now do this…

Quick Edit:

The other part is preparing a folder of a few of the best photos and video clips that highlight your trip.

These pix and vids are going to by handy when friends start asking you how that last trip went. You will not only be prepared, but proud to show only your best stuff and no duds.

The idea here is to have ready something that you will want to show people immediately.

No more embarrassment, fumbling through the whole lot, boring everyone, as you hunt for good pix to show.

1 – Review on a large computer screen your recent trip photos and videos, preferably within a Media Management program. Sort out quickly a sample of the best files shot that you wish to share in the near future that tell a condensed a story of your travels.

You’re looking for a few of the best images/videos that do not need extra time fixing up in a photo editing program. This is just a quick selection to represent your show and tell moments in the short term.

There may be a few winners here that you might want to tweak but the rest could wait till later when you find more time and maybe make a real travelogue show.

2 – Designate a new folder something like “Best of the Trip” that will store a copy of these great shots you took.

3 – Resize files down to screen viewing sizes to make them easier to send and display. This helps fit the screen displays better, render faster and reduces the file size when you wish to  post on Facebook, copy to your phone, tablet or send in an email.
Original photos are way too big at 8 or 16 MB files for anything but large prints. So save a new copy resized down to a more manageable screen resolution in a subfolder.

Always make a new copy when you resize a file, never replace it, as the original will be a better version to work with in the future.

And preserve the aspect ratio (keep the same proportional width x length) of your photos as you reduce them to avoid distortion. In general aim for these sizes:

2000 pixels wide is good for Flat screen TV – Full HD and most tablets
1000 pixels for social media sites, phone displays and emailing.

For video you can reduce your files from Full HD 1080 x 1920 pixels to HD 720 x 1280 px or even smaller, but again keep the same screen aspect ratio.

4 – Transfer these resized files to whatever portable devices you use to get around to show people. Be it your phone, tablet or on a memory stick to plug into a TV elsewhere. And upload to share on a social site or store on a cloud service you can access elsewhere.

That is it!…

now go mow that lawn

software screenSoftware Programs:

To aid in the process of backing up and managing your media collection (photos, videos, audio), there are lots of software programs and utilities out there to automate and simplify your tasks.

First check what software came with your camera (go to the manufacturer’s site for updates) or look into what basic program or apps in your computer that might do it for you.

I list a few of my favorites below as other choices. And there is even more to consider with online storage and printing sites to help you out.

Backup programs can schedule and create copies of whatever you wish to save and update. Set it up once and let it do its thing, worry free. Just stay on top of how many copies and where they are. If not, you might one day have far too many duplicates and no idea which set to delete. Hard drives fill up fast!

laptop camera phoneMedia management programs are extremely helpful in sorting out that huge collection of files you have as photo thumbnails and video clips you can play in preview.  They are good at organizing and keeping on top of the ever mounting task of sorting through your photo collection.

There are ways to sort and rank your trip favourites with stars and colour coding for future consideration.

Some programs will help you import your camera files, rename and backup the task as well. Look for batch editing features to bulk rename, resize, convert and edit images — very handy.

This is the basic advice you need. Much can still be said about archiving files and photo management. I do mention a bit more in my podcast, (which you can play at the top of the page) but I will continue on this theme another time.

A few other points, if the photos on your holidays are really important to you, consider backing them up while on your trip.

When renaming files, give them unique names so in the future you don’t get mixed up deleting duplicate names BUT different actual photos with the same name.

If you use more than one camera on your trips, there may be time/date stamp issues. Be aware that if all your cameras were not set close to the same date and time the chronological shot order may be off.

And eventually you will also need to backup changes made to your “Work folders” to save those hours of editing and retouching!

In years to come, you will be glad you went the extra mile, figuratively speaking, to organize and backup your files, so you can safely reminisce about all those wonderful vacation memories.

I have used these tools for years:

BackupsSyncBackFree – this free version may be all you need to setup and schedule your backups

Media Management ACDsee – been using this for years, lots of tools to work with photos


About Dan Roitner

I love traveling, and have been doing slideshows and video home movies of my trips for decades. As a pro photographer, instructor and multimedia artist I hope to teach you the many aspects to develop an artist style and improve the quality of your own travelogue projects.As the owner of this site, may the resources here, help you improve your skills to create holiday memories worth sharing.

One comment

  1. Sound advice Dan for a very boring but required task we all need to do.

    Ahhh procrastination is our foe. Promise to get to it…soon :^)

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