What is a Gnarbox

Gnarbox is a rugged backup device. It’s a tiny computer, that you control with your phone and can be used to back up your photos from memory cards, USB card readers or external drives. Like this, you can use it in the field to back up your work, without the need for a PC.

I had a look at the Gnarbox 1.0 recently, and I will share with you my thought on it here. There is also a Gnarbox 2.0, which offers an SSD and ability to backup without a phone, but that one is not released yet.

You can find the official Gnarbox website here.

Gnarbox 1.0

The one I tried is the Gnarbox 1.0 128GB. It has an Intel processor and graphics, Wifi, SD and micro SD slot, one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port and one micro USB 3.0 port for charging and using it like an HDD. It’s dimensions are 13.5cm x 8.6cm x 2.5cm and has a 4000mah battery.

Gnarbox 1.0

It’s very rugged and all the ports are covered with thick covers. A nice thing is, that the memory card slots are big enough to fit the whole card in, and you can even close the covers with the cards in.

Gnarbox 1.0
Gnarbox 1.0

In the box, you get the Gnarbox, a USB to micro USB cable and a short quick start guide. The build quality looks solid, with the drive and port covers feeling sturdy and well made.

Gnarbox 1.0

Using the Gnarbox

To use the Gnarbox, you need the Gnarbox app. After installing it and turning on the Gnarbox, you have to connect to it using wifi. Once this is done, you control it completely through the app.

Once you put in a memory card, or connect a storage device using USB, you can see it under devices and can access its content. From here you can view the photos or directly copy them to the Gnarbox. You can’t connect your camera directly to the Gnarbox. With the 5D Mark IV connected, the camera switches to storage mode, but the Gnarbox app will not recognize it.

I tried this with a Sandisk Extreme SD XC card, rated at 80MB/s. Photos from my 5D Mark IV were recognized properly and I could copy the files. 10 raw files, 272Mb in size took 15 seconds to copy, with the app showing no loss in battery life. 186 raw files, 6.2Gb in size took a bit longer. They took 5 minutes and 26 seconds to copy, with the Gnarbox battery losing 4% of its power. Gnarbox also works with videos, and you can create a highlight reals using the app. You can then save the results easily to your phone.

One thing to note here is that the Gnarbox heats up a lot while doing this. It’s hot enough that you will not be comfortable holding it in your hands.

Gnarbox appMain screen
Gnarbox appSelect device
Gnarbox appCopy images

The app is overall easy to use except a few strange things here and there. Why would they name the Copy window Move files, and then explained in the dialog that it’s not Move but Copy? Why can’t I just select multiple videos and add them to the real, instead of choosing one by one, hitting edit and then swiping up to do so? I had to look into a guide to find out how this is done, as it’s not so obvious even with the tip the app gives you. Why isn’t the USB mode changed automatically to mass storage when I connect it to a PC? These are all small quirks, but I think they could be easily ironed out.

Gnarbox appFolder view
Gnarbox appDrive files
Gnarbox appVideo Reel

Looking at it as a backup device, it work’s really well. I had no issues connecting it to my phone, previewing the files, copying them and then connecting it to PC afterward. It’s a great way to have more piece of mind if you are doing longer photo trips, and have nothing with you to back up your photos.

Right now I’m really curious about the Gnarbox 2.0 SSD. This one is good, but that one look’s even better.

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