5 Tools To Sync & Auto-Upload Photos From Android To Cloud Storage

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Nothing is more convenient than taking a photo on your phone and automatically having it be backed up to the cloud. That way, should your phone be lost or damaged, all your pictures are still safe and sound. Cloud storage options are abundant nowadays, but not many of them have auto-upload features.

All of the services discussed below allow you to automatically backup all the pictures taken on your phone directly to the cloud, and they can make your life that much easier.

Google+

Yes, Google Plus is a social network, but for some reason, Google’s automatic uploading of photos is run through Google Plus rather than Google Drive. Why is this? I don’t know; maybe to force people to use the ghost town of a social network. It’s annoying that you can’t just automatically upload photos to Google Drive, but regardless, it is still a very useful feature baked into every new Android device.

Google-Plus-Android-Auto-Backup-1

The good news here is that your Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos all share the same data cap, which is 15GB for free. Even better, photos under 2048×2048 pixels don’t count against your limit. So if you can live with having all of your photos shrunk down a bit, you essentially get free cloud storage. In the G+ app, there is a setting which allows you to toggle between uploads being full-size or automatically resized to 2048px on the longest side.

Unfortunately, since your photos are stored in G+ and not Drive, the system for retrieving them is a bit weird. If you navigate over to plus.google.com and click on Photos in the upper left, you’ll be taken to the Highlights menu which curates photos from all your Google services: Auto Backup, Blogger blogs, Drive, etc. You can download entire albums at a time, as shown below, but Auto Backup automatically puts each day’s photos into a single album. So if you want more than a day’s worth of photos, you’ll need to try something else.

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Clicking on More in the center menu will allow you to look at just the Auto Backup photos. Sadly, there is still no “Download all of my Auto Backup photos” button; the process is a bit more roundabout than that.

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Hovering over a photo will make little checkboxes appear in the upper left corner and you can individually select photos. For some reason, there is no Select All button. The workaround to this is to click on the first photo, scroll all the way down, hold shift, and click on the last photo. This will select all of the photos, which you can then download by clicking under More in the center menu and then selecting Download.

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Google also applies Auto Enhance to all of your photos when they are uploaded. This is supposed to make minor adjustments to your photos to make them look a bit better, like removing red eye and adjusting the lighting. It will also occasionally create Auto Awesome images too, which include things like GIFs of series of photos, montages of similar photos, or photobooth-style collages of portraits. I find both of these services to be very useful but you can turn both of them off in your Google+ Settings if you dislike them.

In the end, Google+ Photos isn’t what I would call the ideal photo backup solution, but with free storage of photos under 2048px, it’s definitely worth considering. And if Google+ still seems pretty daunting to get tangled up in, check out our free guide exploring this social network.

Dropbox

Dropbox, the cloud storage solution that everybody knows about, has a wonderfully simple Android application that allows for automatic uploading of photos. Upon first opening the app, you’re prompted to configure Camera Upload, and after that, it simply uploads your photos in the background.

DropBox-Android-1

The downside, however, is that new Dropbox users only get 2GB of space for free. That’s really tiny, especially if you plan on uploading every photo you take. They do have Pro plans, though, ranging from $10 a month for 100GB to $50 a month for 500GB.

Additionally, there are some third-party Dropbox apps for Android with some really unique features not offered by the standard app, and we have a wonderful guide to help you get started with Dropbox as well.

Amazon Cloud Drive Photos

When Amazon launched the Kindle Fire and the Amazon Appstore, I thought it had a really good chance of taking Android’s supremacy from Google. Amazon Cloud Drive Photos makes me rethink that. Not only does it have a needlessly long name, it still has the outdated Android 2.3 Gingerbread styling. It just seems like Amazon isn’t making the effort to make this a competitive app, even though it could if it wanted to.

Amazon-Cloud-Drive-Photos-1

Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re tied into the Amazon ecosystem already, this app could work great. You get 5GB of free storage, which is more than Dropbox offers, and functionally it behaves very well. I just wish that they would update the user interface and maybe update it to support more than just photos, making it a full on Google Drive competitor.

Amazon-Cloud-Drive-Browser

There is also a desktop version and browser version of the Amazon Cloud Drive, both of which support all kinds of file types, not just photos. Visually and functionally it is very similar to both Google Drive and SkyDrive, except that its Android app only works with photos.

SkyDrive

Microsoft’s SkyDrive, with 7GB of free storage, is a worthy competitor to Google Drive, but sadly, it has the same Achilles’ heel as the Google Drive app: no automatic photo backup. Fortunately, there are some third-party apps out there that can do this for you. The best that I found is SkyDrive Auto Upload.

SkyDrive-Auto-Upload-1

It has semi-modern styling (for some reason you can’t swipe between the tabs) and a very basic interface. Just set it up and never look at it again. It will create two folders in your SkyDrive: photos and videos. Then, it simply uploads everything you take to one of those. I did encounter a bug when using the app on my Samsung Galaxy S3, and that was that the photos under the Status and Uploaded tabs didn’t display properly, but this is a minor grievance since I would be using the SkyDrive app to view my photos anyway.

Flickr

Now this is a photo service worth backing up to. Back in May, Flickr started offering 1TB of space for free users. That is unheard of in the land of cloud storage. And the official Flickr Android app, while decent enough, doesn’t support automatic upload. If it did, I would have to recommend it wholeheartedly. Instead, you’ll be stuck with another third-party program by the same developer who made SkyDrive Auto Upload, AppInfinite. This one is called Flickr Up Auto Upload.

Flickr-Up-Auto-Upload-1

The app works in a nearly identical way, except that it allows for two Flickr-related settings: the privacy setting, and tags for uploaded photos. Aside from that, it works and looks just like the SkyDrive app, which is to say: not the most polished app in the world, but certainly quite functional.

Conclusion

Which cloud storage service you pick is up to you. You can argue the merits of Google Drive vs. SkyDrive, or any of the other competitors, but at the end of the day it’s a matter of personal choice.

That being said, the two I would most recommend for automatically backing up the photos taken on your phone are Google+ and Flickr Up Auto Upload. Google+ is just simple and baked right into the Android experience while also offering free uploads under 2048px, and Flickr’s 1TB upload limit is just stupendous. The rest of these services work well too, but the low caps on storage aren’t very enticing.

Which service do you like the best? Do you have a better way of backing up your photos? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments (14)
  • Bas van der Veeken

    Years later things changed.

    Google Photos now have more reasonable limits. A seperate Google Photos app with auto upload.

    Also the default Flickr app has implemented Auto upload.

  • PicBackMan

    Interesting article Justin.

    I have a question. For example, I lost my phone and someone else is using it now. He / she is clicking pictures with it and all of them are automatically backed up on My Google drive.

    How can I disable the auto-backup setting, knowing the fact that I do not have access to that phone?

    • AndyUser

      For starters change the password to your G account. That should block the phone from accessing the account (BTW you should have done that upon losing the phone.) Secondly enable 2FA on your account-otherwise you are still risking the account being compromised. Thirdly at least enable a screen lock pin on your next phone. It’s an uncommon hustle to defeat. Thus, you hope your phone finder is an average user. Last if you hadn’t done it enable remote locator/wipe from your G account or just use an app. If you had it just go ahead and wipe the phone clean. Good luck next time!

  • pedrajas78

    I was an enthusiast user of Google+, until yesterday, when I had a problem with Google and their doing-things-without-permission-of-the-user politics. I had activated the option of uploading only when connected to WiFi networks, but surprisingly I found that Google+ had consumed more than 600Mb in the background!! Apparently this occurs in case you happen to clear the app cache, then it connects to the Internet in order to update the cache, but -here comes the nice part- completely overrides the app settings, which seems that are only valid for the auto-upload function.
    In consecuence, and provided that I already enjoy a Flickr account, I’ve decided to give it a try, and chastise the Google guys for a while, at least until I’ve forgotten this unpleasant issue.
    Sorry about the tone and lenght of the message, but I needed to get it out.

  • GA

    I use Google+ and a free 50 GB Dropbox account (due to my purchase of my SGS3 sometime ago). Both have been very handy and suitable to my needs. I also have automatic backup to my Livedrive account which offers unlimited space for just a few bucks, though currently set from my computer, I think they might have it from the phone too.

  • Arthur S

    I have been using another tools for such purposes: Acronis backup tool (http://www.acronis.eu/enterprise/products/activecho/). First i used it for making regular backups of my PC but then a new option appeared – placing photos immediately in the cloud and storing them there.

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.