Backup and Transfer of Data in the Field

At the end of a full day in the field the data on a tablet computer is often more costly to replace than the hardware. This makes a pretty strong case for investing in a method of backing up the data while in the field.

If you have access to the Internet during the day through Wi-Fi or Cellular data this can make the backup of your data very simple. I often just email copies of my work as a means of backing it up during the day. However, this simple solution is often not available.

One of the benefits of using an Android or Windows tablet is that they usually come with an SD card slot. The use of a “hardened” SD card makes backups of the data very simple and highly secure. This is especially true if the software you are using can write the data directly to the SD card. These SD cards are pretty much immune to water, physical damage and magnets.

Apple tablets are a challenge to back up in the field. However, there are three options that I have found to be practical that will allow for the back up of most data when there is no Internet connection:

  1. Transfer data from one iPad to another via Bluetooth. This works well provided you have a colleague within a few meters of you – with an iPad or iPhone of course. On newer iPads “AirDrop” can work and for older models you can use an App such as “Instashare”.
  2. If you will be back at your truck during the day you can use a laptop and iTunes to backup your iPad.
  3. I recently purchased a device made by Maxell called “AirStash”. Essentially it is a mini wireless router with an SD card slot. With the AirStash App installed on your iPad you can make copies of your important files and transfer them to the SD card via the Wi-Fi network produced by the AirStash device. It works very well and has the benefit of providing additional data storage – the data on the SD card can be accessed from your iPad.

So the bottom line is that there are no excuses for lost data due to the failure of your tablet computer. However, you shouldn’t get too worried about it, as I know of very, very few tablet computers that have failed in the field due to normal use. Usually it is things like leaving them on the tailgate of the truck or roof of a car that result in data loss.

Let me know if you have questions on data backup.

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