So many gigabytes, so little time….

     I travel a moderate amount.  Often overseas where they drive on a different side of the road, the electrical outlets come in a baffling array of shapes, sizes, and voltage and where I am lugging around enough clothing and gear for two weeks.  Plus, all the stuff my toddler needs.  

     My biggest problem though is what to do with data.  I end up taking a lot of photos, as one would expect.  The problem is, I only have a 32GB CF card in my D800, and one 16GB SD card.  I realize that this is my own fault.  I should have more than this, but quite honestly CF cards are pricey.  Well, the ones I need are pricey.  CF cards are a unique animal.  They use the same interface that PCs used up until a few years ago for their hard drives.  It means that CF cards can be insanely fast.  As fast as the fastest hard drive in theory.  But, this also means that truly fast cards with large capacity are very expensive.  The D800 takes huge images.  36.2 megapixels comes out to something close to 43MB an image when it is on the card.  Now, shooting a burst of images at full speed means you can end up having to force 4 images a second out to the card.  That is a lot of data. The faster the card, the longer I can do that before the buffer on the D800 fills up and starts to slow things down.  I also need a reliable card.  There are a lot of cheap cards out there that make great speed claims, but are of an inferior quality.  So buying brand-name is the only way to go here.  Which means paying through the nose sometimes.  A 128GB Lexar Professional x1000 card runs around $600.  I could pick up a bunch of cheaper 16GB and 32GB cards, but even they cost a lot, and the idea of having a bunch of small expensive things rattling around my bag disturbs me.  Far too easy to lose one.  I’d rather have one or two massive cards I can keep track of.  Plus, when you break it down, the price per GB stays pretty much the same all across the product line.  

     So what to do with all that data on the road?  How do I get it someplace safe so I can reuse a card?  Also, what happens if I lose a card?  

     The cloud to the rescue!


     The solution is simple now.  If you are in a place with wifi, you can simply upload the card to a cloud server for storage.  You don’t even need much of a laptop to do this.  I don’t edit when I am traveling, so I don’t need to lug along a heavy laptop with enough power to chew through the huge images the D800 throws out.  I can even use something as simple as a Chromebook to pull the images off my card reader and then up to any number of cloud storage services.  The Samsung model even has a single USB 3.0 port, which you seriously need (along with a 3.0 reader) when dealing with large images.  In fact, for the cost of one 64GB CF card you can buy a Chromebook.  Which is light, has a ton of battery life, and boots up very quickly.  It also uses solid state memory, so no worries about your hard drive getting a good knock and crashing.  

     In fact, on my next trip I will be using a Chromebook and wifi, as well as the 100GB of free storage you get on Google Drive, to test out this new workflow.  I should be able to throw everything up from my CF cards, and not have to worry much.  Far less worry and cost than buying a bunch of cards or a portable hard drive.  

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