Losing all of my photos from a trip or, worse yet, ALL of my images is completely unthinkable. In fact, I better just stop thinking about that now and move on to the steps I take to prevent it from happening. Here is my strategy for back-up while traveling and long-term.
First, while traveling:
I buy decent cards (not the best, but definitely not the cheapest) and make sure I have enough card capacity for the trip. I shoot a lot of pictures and in RAW format, so I have about 120 gigs of card space which is usually barely enough. I don’t have extremely high capacity cards because I wouldn’t want to lose half my pictures if one of the cards went bad (and they are known to get corrupted sometimes). I have 6 cards at the moment.
At the end of every shooting day, I back up the day’s images onto my laptop and also import them onto the portable hard drive which I use for my Adobe Lightroom library. I do not erase the pictures off the cards. So, I carry three copies: 1) the originals on the cards; 2) the files on the laptop; 3) the imported files on the portable drive, which become my “original” files and which I can start keywording or processing. I never leave all three together alone. If I leave the hotel and head to dinner, I take either my cards or my computer with me and leave the others locked up in the safe in my room or hidden.
When the trip is over, I immediately back up my images to my long-term backup drives. I leave the copies on my cards and laptop drive as well until I have backed everything up to those drives. Then I delete the files off the cards and laptop.
Next, my long-term back-up strategy:
I am not at all comfortable having just two copies of my images:
As mentioned, I use a portable hard drive as my main (Lightroom) drive. Some people don’t advocate the portable drive, but I do a lot of processing away from home and prefer a portable drive for my original images.
Second, I have a good quality external hard drive as my main backup drive. This has all my images on it, including the RAW files, Photoshop files, etc. I do not recommend buying a cheap hard drive as your main backup drive, as two years ago I bought three cheap ones (the same brand) and had two crashes within a month.
I have another back-up drive (so 3 drives total) at a friend’s house inside a fireproof safe. He lives a bit farther away, so the same tornado couldn’t hit both of us.
Doing all of this allows me to get good sleep at night.