Travel Tips


You are reading this article if you are one of two people, you are either worried sick that you may have lost all your precious memories from your trip backpacking through Asia or you are slightly intrigued on what you can do if this disastrous moment happens to you. Hopefully you are here because of the latter, however, if you are here because of lost data, don’t worry there is still hope.

It can happen to anyone and everyone, we can speak from personal experience as it happened to us. One day in Costa Rica our hard drive was being transported, the drive slipped and before we could catch it the hard drive had dropped with a loud thud! We nervously rushed to our room, plugged it in, saw a flashing light but nothing moved, no sound… and no access to our files.

After multiple tries (which you should not do) we soon realised that we had lost access to 2TB worth of photographs (around 13,000) and hours upon hours of both edited and raw video footage of personal memories from our year abroad. If you want to know exactly how we felt – just refer to our daily vlog below which was recorded mere moments after this disastrous event.

What to do to prevent losing your data whilst travelling abroad

  • Bring a back up hard drive and back up your files daily. No questions asked, this is your biggest preventative. If one HDD breaks then you at least have all your information on the other one. Some people go as far as bringing a back up for your back up, but this may be harder with luggage space.
  • Buy a hard drive cover. We transport our drive inside a snug cover which stops any damage whilst being transported in our bag.
  • Buy a hard drive that is rugged. Though slightly more expensive, the LaCie Rugged HDD offers more protection than your standard portable drive.
  • Do not transport the hard drive whilst it is being used or plugged in to a laptop. If the drive is on (and spinning) whilst it is dropped there is a higher chance for the disk to be damaged and your files to be lost (aka exactly what happened to us).

Okay, so you plugged your hard drive in and realised it is not working, what next?

What to do to when your hard drive stops working

  • Do not plug it in. This rule is broke by just about every single person, because how else would you know it is broken? However, you should not plug your HDD back into your laptop (as the motors might’ve moved in the drop and will continue to damage the plate from misalignment).
  • Contact support from your hard drive manufacturer. This is generally only good for getting a replacement drive. However, most warranties do not cover physical damage and there is a large possibility that they will only return a new, fresh HDD with none of your files on it.
  • What about software based recovery apps? From personal experience we have yet to see these work, but once again if your drive has been physically damaged there is little chance they will work.
  • Get a hold of a data recovery specialist. If your drive has precious memories or important documents that cannot be replaced we find it completely worth it to get your drive recovered.

How Secure Data Recovery Saved All Our Lost Files

After an extensive Google search and going through multiple forums for hours on end, we got in contact with Secure Data Recovery and once we heard about their no recovery, no fee diagnostic program for external hard drive data recovery, the minute we arrived at our next destination (Canada) we simply dropped it off at their Montreal office and waited to hear about our case.

Once our diagnostic was complete we were informed from our assigned specialist that our hard drive had a physical failure and that there was a chance of data recovery even though there was 2TB worth of files on our drive, our cautious hopes had been raised and we continued with the order.

Over the days as our footage was being recovered, we were able to access an online recovery control portal to see how much of our footage was being saved. As the days went on we saw the number grow from 10% to 50% and then finally a 98% data recovery. We could not believe how much of our footage was saved! Before the new HDD was sent out to us we were able to remotely access our drive and see, open and play the files.

If you are in a position such as ours where precious memories abroad has been lost and are irreplaceable then we highly recommend getting in contact with the team at Secure Data. Secure Data will look at your hard drive, SD card from your camera or even your laptop with locations in the UK, North America (US, Canada, Mexico) and Australia and help you get back all those lost memories!

Has this ever happened to you? Were you are able to recover your lost data?

Stephen and Jess signoff

A unbelievably big thank you to Secure Data Recovery for taking the time to recovery our lost data, we still can’t believe how much was saved. As always, our opinion is our own.

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  • Scratching the map

    Great tips! I saved this post, because I probably need this one day. Pictures and other footage are so important for a traveler.

  • Robin Rue

    I lost everything once while I was right here in the US. Only I didn’t have my laptop, so there was nothing I could do until I got home.

  • Savannah Miller

    This has never happened to me! I think I would be heart broken if I ever lost all my date 🙁 I am sorry that happened to you

  • Michelle AthriftyDiva Cantu

    How terrible for you all and so glad you recovered so much. I can’t imagine the pain of not knowing if it is gone forever. I try to backup as much as possible.

  • Cori Ramos

    I can imagine how upset you were to lose everything. You were so lucky to find a place that was able to restore your data for you.

  • Rochkirstin Santos

    OMG it’s hard not to panic especially when the files are missing. It’s like missing a huge chunk of your life’s memories. Having an external HD would be best.

  • I would be frustrated but these are great suggestions! I would be so thankful if I could recover some lost data.

  • rika agustini

    oh no.. That could ruin my holiday and I’ll go panic. I always bring extra storage or use online storage

  • haven’t necessarily lost data by itself.. but we did lose / got our our dslr + photos stolen. that footage is never being recoverd. booo. we def learned our lesson to always back up!!

  • Ourfamilyworld

    Oh no! Backing up daily is very important. Losing date has not happened to me, yet, but I make sure to back up my files always.

  • My laptop crashed last month so I feel our pain. Luckily for me, my husband was able to pull and save all my data from it. I will keep Secure Data Recovery in mind in case this happens again. So glad you were able to get all your files back! That’s awesome!

  • Rebecca Swenor

    These are great tips for everyone that looses data. You are indeed lucky you didn’t loose so much data and Secure Data Recovery sound like something everyone should look into.

  • I was just talking about “what if” this ever happened. These are great tips.

  • TheNewClassy

    This would be such a stressful situation. I plan on traveling abroad at some point, so I’ll be sure to listen to these tips.

  • Jeanine @

    This is great to know. I couldn’t imagine. I saw your Vlog about this and I was seriously so upset for you guys!

  • Ann Bacciaglia

    Having a back up hard drive with you is a smart idea. I would be devastated if i lost my data while traveling.

  • blm03

    This is my worst nightmare! What a great go-to list!

  • So glad your data was able to be recovered! My macbook crashed a couple years back and at the time I only had a small portion of my files backed up on an external HD. I had been telling myself since I started my travels that I needed to get another HD to back absolutely everything up but I never got around to it, so I was kicking myself! Thankfully I was able to take it to an authorised Apple retailer who managed to get everything back. I’ve now learnt my lesson and have a back up AND a back up to the back up.

  • mail4rosey

    That’s wonderful that they were able to recover so much data for you. What a great post to put up. I’m sure tons of us will remember this when we need it most.

  • chubskulit

    Great tips for trvelers or for everyone. We must have a back up because we never know what will happen.

  • Chrystal M.

    I have had an external hard drive fail so I know how horrible this was for you guys. Mine was many years ago and I wasn’t able to find anyone who could help. I was able to recover some of it, but most of it was gone. I am so thankful for cloud companies now. I back up important stuff twice.

  • Never thought about how my drive should work when traveling abroad. Thank you for reminding me to think ahead.

  • Kelly Hutchinson

    I cannot imagine losing my data while I am out of the country. I had it happen here at home and that was hard enough.

  • I can’t imagine losing all of that data!! I am so glad you were able to recover all of it!! I remember your posts from when you dropped the hard drive and I felt just sick for both of you.

  • I haven’t lost data while traveling, but I have lost data because of a portable hard drive going kaput, nonetheless. I’ll definitely get a more rugged one next time, though.

  • Erin Shebish

    I’ve never had this problem, luckily! But I’ll have to remember this for future reference!

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    Omg thankfully this has never happened to me in a trip! Unfortunately I have heard of many people who have :-/

  • Thankfully, this has never happened to me, but I would try not to panic. I’ll bookmark this for when I do travel. Great tips!

  • John Gate

    Never heard about this software, I used Disk Drill on Mac once, and Recuva for Windows