Backing up photos from your phone

I take way too many photos on my phone.  Whether you do the same, or even if you just take a few, here’s the most simple way I’ve found to back up photos from my iPhone, and have used the same method on my Android (Wiley Fox) phone.  Dropbox and Google Photos are my favourites, but both do require a decent wifi connection.  That’s no problem in the Netherlands where we have fast, affordable internet, but if you have a slow/expensive data transfer plan then I’d suggest you look into transferring to your computer with a cord.


If you don’t already use this great cloud storage tool, I highly recommend it.  If you use the link above, at time of writing it will give us both a bonus 500MB of storage on top of the regular free 2GB.  Not that I need it myself at the moment as I love this tool so much I pay around USD$99 a year to upgrade to 1TB of space.  This is the main place I currently store all my photos.  It is a cloud storage which some people have concerns about and if so, you can read about security here.  What I love though is that once you install the app on your phone, in the settings you have an option to turn on camera uploads.  Then, when you open the app, it will automatically back up all the photos on your phone to your dropbox.  You can choose whether to upload photos on wifi only or use cellular data as well (depends on your data plan).  I try to remember to do this daily, but at least a few times a week.  I then have dropbox installed on my computer and drag them to another “family photos” folder where I organise them by date.  Dropbox saves photos at the original resolution you took them, meaning that they are likely to come out well if you print them (rather than just viewing on a screen).  I then aim to copy across my photos from dropbox to an external hard drive every month or so.

When I use my DSLR camera, I have Dropbox installed on my Mac – it recognises my data card when I insert it and asks to import the photos directly to dropbox.  This seems to work quite well, though Dropbox did have an issue in around December where it let customers know some time later that his backup feature was skipping a certain type of photo/video file.  So best practice is that if the photos are important to you, to always double check the back up has worked, and then back up to a hard drive as well.

Dropbox on iPhone

Google Photos

Similar system to Dropbox in that you install an app on your phone and then use the settings tool for automatic backup.  As far as I have seen, on iPhone you have to actually open the app for the back up to work, while on my Android, it seems to happen automatically.  You can choose unlimited uploads to your Google Photos account at low resolution (thus ok to view on a screen but not to print) or use limited space to upload full resolution photos.  I use this is a secondary/tertiary back up feature.  If something was to go wrong with Dropbox and/or my hard drive, then I have all the low res copies of my photos.  I am still missing the Picasa tool and Google Photos hasn’t yet lived up to its promise as a reasonable replacement but it’s ok.  As you would expect from Google I guess, it does have some pretty amazing search tools – for example, you can search “pizza” in your own photos and some unknown algorithm will somehow fairly accurately produce your photos with pizza or a pizza box!  By default (but double check) I think photos are set to private unless you choose to share albums.

With my DSLR (Digital camera), I’ve had issues with Google Photos.  The Album upload tool as well as the Mac app (Google Photos uploader) don’t seem to work very well for me.  They freeze after a few photos and it’s really hard to see if and when my photos have actually been correctly backed up.  So still trying to find a better solution here.

Google Photos on iPhone

Hard drive

I have several hard drives that I back up my photos on from time to time.  Initially these were my primary source of back up, but even with relatively expensive hard drives, I’ve lost photos more than once.  I also often have the issue that I need to access photos from a Mac and PC so need to make sure they are formatted correctly (not an issue with Google Photos and Dropbox).  They are still not a bad way to back up photos though.

iPhoto/Android Transfer

Both the iPhone and Android phones have their own photo transfer software but I’ve never liked it.  iPhoto tend to force you into their expensive iCloud option if you take the number of photos I do – and as I already pay to use Dropbox – which I can use for other types of files as well, I’ve avoided it.   It’s been so long since i’ve actually plugged my iPhone into my computer that i don’t even remember if you can simply transfer photos easily.  But this is an option to look into if Dropbox/Google Photos don’t work for you.

Did you find this useful?  How do you back up photos from your phone?  I’d love your comments below.








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