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Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Who wouldn't want the convenience of taking a trip with a single memory storage card?

As today's digital storage expand with brand new 2GB, 4GB, 5GB, 8GB, and 10GB Microdrives from major manufacturers (Hitachi, Seagate, Sony, etc.), it is becoming ever more tempting to store all of your pictures on one storage cards. Who wouldn't want to take advantage of the convenience to never having to swap memory cards? However, with the increase in capacity, we are coming closer and closer to violating the golden rule . . .

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Several years ago, I took a trip out to Kingman, Arizona. Back then, my mom had a restaurant called "Uncle King" and I visited her yearly. Digital cameras were still in their infancy and I had my film cameras. When I visit her, I generally take the time to go out to neighboring parks and attractions for photo shoots. I shot about seven rolls of film (24 to 36 pictures each), generating about two hundred pictures. The exposed rolls were stored in a belt pouch. With the pouch by my side at all times, I thought my photographs were safe. The day before I left Kingman, the pouch disappeared. No matter how I retraced my steps, I could not find the pouch. To this day, I still wonder where all my pictures have gone.

About a week prior to writing this article, I flew out to Minnesota with my significant other. We wanted to take a vacation and visit friends. I packed my Canon EOS D30, one lens, four batteries, and an IBM 1GB Microdrive. But I had forgotten to pack the rest of my CompactFlash cards. Through out the entire trip, I shot over a hundred photographs. One hundred images barely put a dent in the capacity of the Microdrive. All of the images took up only forth percent of the Microdrive. I could have shot another a hundred fifty shots on that storage card. But I was very nervous on that trip. I was afraid that the card could have gotten lost. I was afraid that the card could have been stolen. And I was afraid that the card could have been damaged. I did make it back home with all my pictures intact. But I wasn't comfortable on the trip and I could have reduced those risks.

Here are some pointers to help you reduce those risks while you are on the road:

Tip 1: Interleave your shots. When you get to each photo shoot location, develop the habit of change your memory cards often. Shooting several shots of each location on separate storage cards help you spread the risk. If you loose one card, you would still have pictures of that location on other cards.

Tip 2: Distribute your cards. Store cards that are filled up in different places. Put some in your car, put some in your bags, and some in your hotel room. When you mail your cards home, mail them in separate packages to avoid losing your entire shipment. By distribution, if you lose one of your bags, you wouldn't have lost your entire basket.

Tip 3: Avoid using a single portable storage device. There are many portable storage devices, such as X'S-DRIVE, that can read memory cards directly. These devices come with huge hard disks. You can store lots and lots of pictures on one of these devices. That's one huge basket you don't want to loose or damage. Instead of buying this drive for your trip, consider buying more memory cards. Memory cards are coming down in price. With more memory cards, you can reduce your risk via the two earlier tips. The CD burning device might be ok, such as the Apacer Disc Steno CP200, because you can always put your pictures on multiple CD's.

Here are some pointers to help you reduce risks at home:

Tip 4: Duplicate your data. Nothing beats having multiple copies of your data at home. And one way you can accomplish this is by backing-up on a regular basis, whether it is another hard drive, CD's, or tape. If you have trouble remember backing-up or dealing with the hassle, consider installing a RAID system, where your hard disk is mirrored onto another hard disk as you access your data.

Tip 5: Distribute your data. Like memory cards, storing all of your data in one location is a huge risk. The physical location can be destroyed in a fire, or other emergencies. Consider storing duplicated data at a remote location, such as your office or a safe storage box.

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