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When you don’t want to backup to the cloud or just want an alternative, a USB photo stick can be an easy way to backup or transfer pictures off your phone.

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There are several models heavily advertised online, and I often get questions about how good they are. While I haven’t tested those models, I am weary of their websites since they sell a big game but also use high-pressure marketing tactics to get you to buy.

I have tested the following two models from reputable manufacturers and they easily do the trick: just plug one into the bottom of your iPhone or Android device, download an app and the device will backup your photos, contacts and more.

PNY Duo Link, $35

PNY is a brand well known for its quality computer memory. The PNY Duo Link looks like a flash drive on one end and a lightning connector on the other. Just plug it into your phone and download the Duo Link App to get started.

The app doesn’t have the slickest design, but it works. You can use it to select certain photos and videos to back up, or backup your entire camera roll. The app can also backup contacts, too.

Everything is stored on the flash drive, so you can leave your photos there until it fills up, or you can plug the other end into your computer to access or transfer your files.

The PNY Duo Link comes in 64 and 128-gigabyte capacities. The device can be also used as a charging cable for your phone.

SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Luxe, $45

The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Luxe has a neat trick: a USB-C connector on one end and a lightning connector on the other.

This means you can plug it into the bottom of an Android phone or an iPhone.

On Android, download an app called SanDisk Memory Zone, then plug the drive into the USB-C connector on most recent models, including Samsung. On iOS, download SanDisk iXpand Drive.

From here, you can backup your photos, music, videos, documents and contacts. The SanDisk app has a nice design, and there’s also a version available for iOS.

Once your files are on the drive, you can plug the USB-C end into a computer to access your files. Recent computer models have USB-C connections, if yours doesn’t you can use a USB-C to USB-A adapter, oftentimes you’ll find one in your Android smartphone box.

No matter which photo stick you choose to backup your pictures, I always recommend you have your files in a minimum of two places. That could be the USB stick, your phone, computer, or cloud storage. This way, if one location fails, you still have your photos in another place.

I get way too many emails from people who say they “lost it all” when they damaged their phone or something goes awry. Don’t let this happen to you!

Curious how many photos will fit on the drive? Here’s a good reference chart.

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