How to . . . back up your photos on your Android phone

Put it off at your own risk


We’ve all been there: ignoring prompts to backup your phone, and swearing you’ll do it tomorrow because you don’t have the time right now. And then suddenly, tomorrow comes, and your phone is either lost, destroyed or stolen. With it go all your memories – your photos and videos.

But if you don’t want to be bothered by backing up every bit of information on your phone regularly, you can at least make a copy of your photos. That way, if your phone goes Awol, at least you won’t lose your record of the past two years – or the stream of Instagrammable meals that you’ve been working on for a while.

Google Photos

Android now has an app called Google Photos that will allow you automatically upload your photos and videos to your cloud storage when you hit a data network. Every photograph and video will be saved there, backed up wirelessly when it detects a data connection.

To change your backup and sync settings, open the Google Photos app. Tap the Sslider from Off to On. To do an immediate backup, click Backup & sync>back up all.

You can also add extra folders, for example your movies and pictures, by clicking backup & sync>Choose folders to back up.

You have two options: you can store your images at high quality, which will give you unlimited image storage but a reduced file size. Or you can opt for the original full resolution, which will count against your Google account’s storage, and could lead to you having to pay out for extra space.

If your mobile data plan is limited, you can opt to just back up over wifi; otherwise, you can add the option to use mobile data. Not only does the app give you an archive in case of disaster, but it also allows you to free up storage space on your phone.

Be careful when you are binning images though. If you want to delete photos from your device once they are backed up, select your image, click on the menu button (the three dots in the top right corner) and click on Delete device copy. If you just select the image and click the bin icon, the image is gone from everywhere – cloud, device, the works.

Use Dropbox

If you sign up for a free Dropbox account, you can set your phone to automatically upload your images to it. But you’ll need to connect your account to a desktop PC, unless you want to shell out for a Dropbox pro account.

Once you install Dropbox on your desktop and sign into the account on both devices, you will be prompted to turn on automatic uploads. To toggle it on and off, open the Dropbox app, tap menu>gear icon and scroll down to the Camera Upload menu. Yoiu can then toggle it on or off.

Like Google Photos, you can choose the method of upload – wifi vs mobile data. Unlike Google Photos, you aren’t getting any extra space for choosing to downgrade the resolution.

Obviously, using any cloud service comes with a warning. If you are planning on storing any sensitive material in the cloud, make sure you put a strong password on your account to keep prying eyes out.

If you really want to make sure no one else sees the images, regardless of their content, don’t back it up to the cloud at all.

While professional cloud services work to protect themselves from attack, that security is only as strong as its weakest link – and usually, that’s a person. Reusing passwords, responding to phishing emails inadvertently – it can all compromise your security.

Do it manually:

For this, you’ll need access to a PC and a USB cable that fits your Android device.

Plug your phone into your PC using the USB cable. Your Android phone should appear as an external drive, which you can open and browse. Find the images folder, and copy your photos from there.