Home > Electronics, Photography > Photo backup solution – Kingston MobileLite

Photo backup solution – Kingston MobileLite

Introduction

I have often complained about the difficulty of backing up photos in the field or on vacation. I only take an iPad on trips, which makes things difficult. A memory card reader is available, but an iPad with lots of storage is very expensive. Based on my previous trips, I need backup storage of 128 GB.

Requirements

Speaking of needs, here were my requirements:

  • Cheap
  • Small
  • Reliable
  • Fast
  • Support full-size SD card
  • Support unpowered external hard drive and/or flash drive
  • Copy directly from the SD card to the storage drive
  • Support RAW files

I looked through many options, but the only one that met all these was the Kingston MobileLite. I did discover another possibility, the RAVPower Wireless Filehub / Media Drive, but the MobileLite has seen quite a bit of testing on the DPReview forum whereas I had not seen much on the RAVPower.

MobileLite_Wireless_MLW221_hr_26_04_2013_00_58

Review

The MobileLite (ML) performs two functions. Because it contains its own battery, you can use it to charge your devices until the battery runs down. The internal battery also means there is no need to keep the MobileLite plugged in while using it. It charges using a standard mini-USB port, which is also used for most cameras. More importantly, the ML contains an SD card reader and a full-size USB port. An adapter is included so you can use microSD cards as well.

You can connect an external hard drive or a flash drive to that USB port. I would recommend a flash drive since it has no moving parts (more reliable, in theory) and is more compact. If you use a hard drive, power may be an issue. The first time I used it, I tried an older Western Digital Passport drive that does not need to be plugged in; it pulls the power it needs from the USB port. However, this older model seemed to use too much power and the ML kept disconnecting. This drive also did not work with my PS3, so I do not think it’s a problem with the ML. I found a post on the Internet saying the exact same thing. The person said a Toshiba Canvas worked, though. I have one of those as well, but I have not tried it. I do know that my Toshiba works fine with the PS3. Alternatively, you can use a powered hard drive, but makes the system more complex and cumbersome. I tested with a 2 GB flash drive and it worked fine. I still need to get a 128 GB flash drive and test with that.

Anyway, the way this all works is that you install the ML app on your smartphone or tablet; iOS or Android. Connect to the device using WiFi and copy your files directly from the SD card to the USB device. None of this copying to the tablet first! I’ve only used the iOS app. While not terrible, it could definitely use some more text to help you figure out what to do. The best thing to do is try to remember to create a new folder for each day of shooting on your camera. At the end of the day, just copy over that entire folder. I do not know if the app is smart enough to only copy new files if you keep selecting the same folder.

Summary

Let’s review what this mess of text looks like in its final form.

  1. Remove the SD card from camera.
  2. Lock the write switch on the card (just in case).
  3. Insert the card into the ML.
  4. Plug your USB drive into the ML.
  5. Turn on the ML.
  6. Connect the mobile device (tablet or phone) to the ML’s wifi.
  7. Start the app and copy the files.
  8. Nothing to do now but wait!

A ML can usually be found for less than $40. One final piece of advice. If you purchase this or a similar device, test it before your trip, not during.

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Categories: Electronics, Photography
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