Windows 8 laptop as photo backup device


Having failed to get a Google Chromebook to work as a photo backup device, due to its inability to read exFAT SD cards and its inability to communicate with a Canon 5D III body, I invested $400 in an HP laptop computer running Windows 8. Using a Lexar card reader, the machine was able to read a 128 GB CF card and the laptop also included a built-in SD card reader. Via USB the machine was able to recognize and browse files on cards within the camera body. So far so good. After downloading some extra software from Microsoft, the computer was even able to display the RAW files within the File Explorer.

Windows 8 on a non-touch laptop proved to be even more frustrating than using Windows 8 on a touch-equipped computer. The included photo applications proved flaky. If you popped in an SD card the computer would ask if you wanted to import the photos on the card. It worked great the first couple of times, putting photos into folders by date. After that the application either would try to re-import all of the photos, including ones that it had already imported, or just a handful, missing a lot of new photos.

Some combination of the laptop and the software resulting in the computer exhausting its battery while I thought it was sleeping. This resulted in a rapid shutdown and, after that, all of the critical “Libraries” from File Explorer were inaccessible. Double clicking on a library would result in a message “Videos.library-ms is no longer working”. None of my files were lost but my confidence in NTFS on Windows 8 was shaken.

Mostly my memory of trying to use this device is constant pressing of the “Windows” key on the keyboard to get out of some Metro app, then using the mouse to click on the “Desktop” app to get back to whatever it was that I was trying to do.

The only thing that truly worked well was Picasa, which made sorting files and pushing them up to shareable albums very easy. The one knock against Picasa is that it doesn’t seem to be bandwidth-smart. If you’re on a slow connection and add the same photo to two online albums it seems to upload the photo twice. Also, the minimum size/quality for Web sharing is 2048 pixels. That’s way too big when one is connecting to the Internet via an Iridium satellite phone.

There must be something that Windows 8 is good for.


  1. lelnet

    February 11, 2013 @ 10:05 pm


    “There must be something that Windows 8 is good for.”

    Driving continuing demand for ever-more-powerful computing hardware, by managing to be even slower and less efficient than previous Microsoft OSes…which you’ve got to admit is a really massive achievement.

    Were one entirely unfamiliar with the works of Frederic Bastiat, one could also assert that it’s “good for” increasing IT employment, as trainers become necessary to cope with the insane dual-interface phenomenon by which a means of interaction designed for touchscreen phones and tablets is forcibly shoehorned into service on real computers, and also vice-versa. Additionally, the massive loss of productivity among people who used to be able to get their jobs done in a single coherent interface now have to fight tooth and nail against two of them, might also force some additional hiring.

  2. Jeffrey Friedl

    February 12, 2013 @ 12:40 am


    I can’t speak to what Windows might be good for, but why not try a real photo-workflow app, like Lightroom? You can use it from cradle to grave (from SD-import to PicasaWeb export)…

  3. Rick

    February 12, 2013 @ 2:10 am


    Buy a copy of Perfect Photo Suite 7. A fantastic photo editing software package. I use it on OSX: it will run on windows 8.

  4. Adam Monsen

    February 12, 2013 @ 8:49 am


    You might try Ubuntu on that laptop. Firefox, Chrome, Gimp, Darkroom, and Shotwell work fairly well. Ubuntu takes some tinkering, but it’s worth it to be using Free (libre and gratis) software.

  5. Paul Houle

    February 12, 2013 @ 10:38 am


    You can still run Windows Live Essentials on Windows 8, and these are much better applications than the “Metro” applications that are packaged with on Win 8. For instance, Windows Live Mail can survive a volume of mail that destroys Thunderbird. The photo gallery app is really pretty good. It’s not lightroom, but it beats the pants off iPhoto.

  6. Jagadeesh Venugopal

    February 12, 2013 @ 10:56 am


    Three things that might help a little
    1. Install classic shell to get back your start button
    2. Use the classic shell menu option to disable gestures and corners
    3. There is a setting so that if you double click on a photo you get the Windows (classic) image viewer rather than going in to the Metro interface
    4. If you happen to use Skype, get rid of the app and install the Windows 7 desktop version on Windows 8
    This will (almost) take you back to Windows 7

  7. George

    February 12, 2013 @ 1:54 pm


    In my view, the only improvement in Windows 8 over its predecessors, is the Task Manager.

  8. Jack Crossfire

    February 14, 2013 @ 3:27 am


    Linux can read exfat. It needs a kernel compiled for user space filesystems, scons, fuse, & fuse-exfat. There’s probably also a way to automount it.

  9. John

    February 16, 2013 @ 8:15 am


    The Photos app on Windows 8 is broken for me. For any picture I want to see, it says “You may not have the appropriate permissions to access this item.” Well, at least I can rest assured that Windows 8 has tight security.

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