My mobile data backup solution
What is the “MPortable”?
The first time I’ve heard about the MPortable was during our vacation in South Africa. After a little research I decided that this device would have been the perfect companion for our Holliday and ordered my own MPortable drive. I thought of the device primarily as a mobile photo backup solution. Perfect for extended projects where you are away from your computer for several days. And it sure is but it is much more. As soon as you plug in your memory card it will instantly start copying the pictures to the hard drive. You don’t have to do anything and you don’t even need an power outlet because the MPortable has an build in rechargeable battery. The import process from the memory card to the MPortable is relatively fast but of course not as fast as if you copy the pictures to a computer with an USB 3.0 Cardreader. But you have to keep in mind that there is a tiny computer within the MPortable and of course this can’t be as fast as an very expansive desktop computer. And everything is designed so you don’t have to sit and wait. It also has a build in WiFi hotspot so you can connect to the MPortable with your smartphone or tablet. So you can instantly view the pictures on your phone and of course you can also download them to your phone to edit or publish them on the web. But to me the best part of it all is you can rate the pictures. The preview images are generated automatically during the import process so you can browse through hundreds of images without any delay. Something which Adobe Lightroom is still not able to do and therefore many photographers use additional software light Photo Mechanic to speed up the process. To me this completely changed my workflow and the additional backup of my photos has become a much appreciated side effect.
How it looks
My personal workflow has changed
As soon as my photo project is finished I immediately backing up the memory card(s) to the MPortable. Either while I’m still on location or I just put the memory card in the MPortable the moment I leave and everything happens automatically on my way home. Once everything is imported I connect to the MPortable with my iPad and start rating the pictures. I still don’t have the need for a computer, any WiFi connection or even an power outlet so this can literally be done anywhere and it is still faster than doing so in Lightroom. Once that is done I connect the MPortable to my computer and import the rated pictures into Lightroom. And since it’s an SSD with USB 3.0 the import is lightning fast.
I haven’t found any real downsides. There are some things which I personally would be wishing for the future. Probably the only thing about the MPortable I don’t like is the absence of a status display. It only uses a few status LEDs and I it seems that I’m just not able to remember what each LED means. I would much appreciate a tiny display of some sort for the next hardware version. Speaking of the hardware, there is something I haven’t mention yet: The MPortable as a build in RJ45 ethernet Port and if you plug it to the your network you can also access the file structure via SMB which sure is very nice for many users. But to connect to the MPortable with the iOS App you still have to connect your device to the WiFi hotspot. Unfortunately it can’t communicate with the device using the wired connection. At least not yet. I’m still hoping for this to be changed in the future so I can stay connected to my office WiFi while working with the MPortable App on my iPad.
MPortable iOS Software
Mounted to the computer
When you mount the MPortable to the computer you access the device like a normal external hard drive. The albums are nicely arranged and when you rate the pictures in the MPortable app the actual images will be split apart based on your rating. The pictures which have no flag stay in the main album folder of the actual date. The picutres which are flagged as picked or rejected are in the corresponding sub folders. This way you can either choose only to import the picked pictures or you can import ever folder individually and set the rating in lightroom based on the folder.
What else to say?
There would be a lot more to say about the device but I wanted to focus on the features I use. If you wan’t to know more about it you can find the link to the product on the bottom of this article. There is only one more thing I want to mention: The company behind the product is based in german and I have been in contact with them several times now. They are working very hard to improve the product even further so I’m looking forward of the things to come.
To me the MPortable is the device I have been waiting for quite some time now. It is not perfect yet but it is a very solid product and the development team seams to work very hard to make it better every day.