How to backup photos to an iPad Mini

Beach Tools, On the Beach - Cancun, Mexico

Beach Tools, On the Beach – Cancun, Mexico

I’m running an experiment on my vacation in Cancun. As I mentioned last week, I decided to forgo bringing my 15″ MacBook Pro and use an iPad Mini instead to backup my photos. I’m also using my iPad to post process photos and create this blog post.

I’m using an Airstash to both write photos to the iPad from SD cards and to copy photos from the iPad to SD cards. You can see the black and green drive in the photograph.

The Airstash, made by Maxell, allows me to insert a SD card on one end and it has a USB connector on the other, which charges it. There is a file server and WiFi built into this thing which allows iOS devices to read and write to SD cards, via a free App.

I alternate SD card downloads from my 3 cameras into the 64 GB iPad Mini. It had about 41GB free. I religiously make 3 copies of photos both at home and in the field. The iPad down load creates the 2nd copy since I’m not erasing the originally taken photos. I make the 3rd copy by using the Airstash to write photos from the iPad into a different set of SD cards dedicated for backup.

The system works fine but there are downsides. The two limitations are time and space. First, since the Airstash uses WiFi, it’s much slower than direct USB connections. A 15MB file takes about 10 seconds to download to the iPad and 15 seconds to upload to a SD card.

Storage space is also a factor — the iPad’s available space is key. The way I’m using this system, I’m limited to 41GB of photos. I delete any obvious non-keepers to save space. After a bit of management, it looks like I’m going to have enough space to backup my week of vacation photos.

The experiment has been fun in a low stress environment. For anyone with an adequately big iPad, this is probably a decent solution. If you only need to make one extra backup instead do two, it gets a lot easier. I would consider using Apple’s Camera Connection Kit. It should work a lot faster since it connects directly into the lightning connector instead of WiFi. You can not use it to write photos to SD cards however. That is the main advantage of the Airstash.

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