Monday, July 20, 2009

Portable Backup - Part 2

Some people do not like backing up their images or CF or SD Cards because of the time it requires and because of the size and cost of the required equipment. Laptops generally fit into that category and if you do not require any of the functions of the laptop while you travel, it may not be a good backup solution for you.

So what then can you do to resolve your backup problems. Well, there are some great devices designed just for that purpose called "Multimedia Storage Drives". Companies like Epson and Canon and others make small portable devices that will read your Compact Flash, SD and other memory cards directly and will save all the data onto a hard drive. These devices are all small hand held devices that come in different capacities from 40 Gigs to 500 Gigs.

Multimedia Storage Drives

Epson - Epson makes a series of devices, the P-3000 (40 Gig), P-4000 (80 Gig), P-6000 (80 Gig) and P-7000 (160 Gig). These devices also have slight differences in the LCD Display size and Hard Drive Capacities and they also act as Media Players so they can play video and music. This can be a nice option on long trips.

I am not sure of all the specs of the other units but on the P-7000 which I used, (I briefly tried the P-6000) it had a great quality LCD monitor that displayed RAW and JPG files in Adobe RGB colorspace. The LCD display is reported to be capable of displaying 94% of the Adobe RGB Color Gamut. This unit is noticeably faster than the other models at copying files from your Memory Card. Like with other models you can zoom into photos so you can better inspect your images for quality and sharpness.

Like most Multimedia Storage Devices, there are some issues with these units. The P-7000 cannot copy files to your computer without the AC power adaptor being plugged in which is annoying when on the road or on location. This in not a big issue and it can be overcome in a car with a 110 Volt Inverter for about $20.00. There are a few other small issues, not problems just annoyances. All in all this is a great device but it is way over priced at $749.00 for a device that only has a 160 Gig drive. On the plus side it is one of a very few devices that fully supports RAW images.

*Image supplied by Canon.

Canon - Canon made two different Capacity Multimedia Drives. The Canon Media Storage M30 and M80 with 30 Gig and 80 Gig capacity drives respectively. Both these units have high quality 3.7" TFT monitors and Highs-Seed CF and SD Readers. Both units support RAW, JPG, MP3, and MPEG and so will play Audio and Video tracks as well. Both Units support Canons Image Security Password features and various other Canon accessories like their Wireless File Transmitters.

With their tough, robust magnesium alloy bodies and intuitive navigation familiar to EOS owners, the devices add an important link to the workflow chain of professional photojournalists and photographers on location, outdoor and expedition shoots. However, the limited sizes of the drives and the overly expensive prices set at the factory has made both Canon Canada and Canon USA opt out of bringing these units into North America citing they "just would not sell at those prices". The M80 would sell for about $800.00 U.S.

This unit also has Extended PictBridge functionality that will allow you to print directly to any PictBridge capable printer.

I was lucky enough to get one of the M80 units directly from Japan in the first week they were released. I love the unit as it is well built and fairly fast with its High Speed USB 2.0 connection, but it is way overpriced. Note also that the unit is just slightly larger than the Epson (above) and the SanHo units (below).

Sanho - In my "forever looking for the best technology" quest, I did see several Sanho units and after their very first original attempts, I finally decided to give them a try when they released the "HyperDrive ColorSpace". Wow, what a great unit this turned out to be.

On the down side is the rather small full color display, but other than that one draw back, this is by far the best unit I had used at that time. The speed of the HyperDrive is way faster than the competitions and the features are also way better. The unit sports xD, MMC, SD, MS, MS Duo and CF cards and with adaptors will support other card types as well. The built in rechargeable batter last longer than the competitions and you can purchase an Extra Battery. It will backup 120 Gigs on a single charge.

The other great feature of the Sanho unit is the excellent software support and features. The unit can Verify that your Memory Cards are OK but it can also Recover Images or Files from damaged or corrupted cards. You no longer require a Laptop or Computer with special software to retrieve lost or accidentally deleted images!

This drive is also available in a variety of drive capacities from 120 Gigs to 500 Gigs but what drew me to this unit is that it can be purchased without any hard drive installed. Buying the bare unit it is very affordable. Then you can either use an old Laptop drive you have laying around, or you can buy a used one or even a new large capacity drive from a well priced small retailer such as A-Power or NCIX. In the end, the price will be way better than Canon or Epson solutions.

I installed a 250 Gig Hard Drive into this unit. This has been a great portable backup device and this is the unit I chose to bring with me to Australia.

*Image supplied by SanHo.

Sanho more recently introduced a new model that has won many Awards called the "ColorSpace UDMA". This unit has a much larger Color Display and now supports the much faster UDMA technology making this unit the fastest portable media backup solution. I purchased this on-line again with no installed hard drive. Upon receiving the unit I installed a new 500 Gig Laptop hard drive. I also purchased the unit with a spare battery and a battery charger but I see that they now sell an easier to use external 1800 mah battery that can also be used with Blackberry and other devices. Something else to buy!

They also sell the COLORSPACE UDMA OTG Sync Adapter unit that allows you to connect and sync to any USB device! You could use a standard Computer External Hard Drive as a second backup unit. So a quick trip to Costco to purchase a Western Digital MyPassport external hard drive and you are set.

This new UDMA unit copies 2.0 Gigs per minute with real time CRC checking to verify images have been copied properly. You can create "scripts" to simplify repetitive tasks. This unit supports 14 media card types and True RAW images. This unit will also monitor your Hard Drive using the S.M.A.R.T. drive technology and will notify you as soon as or even before hard drive errors occur.

I used this unit on a recent trip to Hawaii and loved it even more than my original unit because of the larger display. I will be bringing this unit with me to Nova Scotia in September and I will be leaving my original Hyperdrive ColorSpace and my Canon M80 units on the shelf.

I highly recommend the Sanho ColorSpace UDMA unit and even purchasing it from with the 500 Gig drive pre-installed, it is a great deal and still much cheaper than lower capacity Epson or Canon Units. Check it out here at - Sanho HyperDrive ColorSpace UDMA 500 GB

In Part - 3 of this blog, we will look at a few other backup options.

Portable Backup - Part 3

© 2009 Fran├žois Cleroux

(Version 1.12 - August 2009)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.


  1. I have always tried to learn photography but never mastered it the way I should have.

  2. Your blog is perfect no doubt but I would be great if you will give some information on Canon....


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- Francois Cleroux