Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
If someone stole your phone tomorrow, or you dropped it in water and destroyed it, how many precious photos would you lose?
Of all the data you carry on your phone, pictures are often the most valuable. Thankfully, there’s no reason to ever lose a photo again, thanks to these automatic photo backup apps for Android.
1. Google Photos
Chances are that Google Photos came preinstalled on your phone. Unsurprisingly, the app provides one of the best ways to back up your photos on Android. It’s tied with your Google account and allows you to sync as many pictures as you want.
However, there’s a small catch. The backup is only unlimited if you choose the High Quality option in Google Photos. This compresses images to 16MP and videos to 1080p. If you want to back up your photos at their full resolution, those images will count against your allotted space shared across Gmail, Photos, and Google Drive. Free accounts come with 15GB of storage for this.
Configure Google Photos
To adjust your automatic backup settings in Google Photos, open the app and slide out the left menu. Select Settings from this and enter the Back up & sync section.
Here, make sure you have the Back up & sync slider enabled to use the feature. Below this, you can select the quality level you’d like to use.
As you’d expect, Photos will automatically back up pictures from your camera; select Back up device folders if you’d like to include other images on your device. You may want to exclude apps like WhatsApp to avoid clogging up your Google Photos account with memes from group chats.
After you’re all backed up, Google Photos offers another cool feature: automatic cleanup of photos from your device. Select Free up space from the left menu, and Photos will remove images from your local storage that it has already backed up. You can view these pictures on Google Photos anytime, as long as you’re online.
Google Photos has a ton of other great features not related to cloud backup, which you should definitely check out.
Download: Google Photos (Free)
2. Microsoft OneDrive
If you don’t want to use Google Photos, many well-known cloud storage providers offer a similar functionality.
Dropbox has had a Camera Upload feature for some time, but the free plan limits you to just 2GB. Thus, we chose OneDrive for this list simply because it offers a larger 5GB on the free plan. If you subscribe to Office 365, your account includes a whopping 1TB of OneDrive storage for free, making this a much more attractive option.
Sign into the OneDrive app with your Microsoft account, and you’re ready to enable its photo upload function. To do this, visit the Me tab in the bottom-right corner and choose Settings. From the resulting list, select Camera upload. Here, make sure you toggle the Camera upload slider on to activate the feature.
Like Google Photos, you can select whether to upload using just Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and data. Tap Additional folders to back up locations other than your camera. Finally, use the other sliders to limit backup to only when your device is charging, and decide whether to include videos.
In the OneDrive app, you can view your pictures on the Photos tab. Tap one for more options like sharing it or viewing details.
Download: OneDrive (Free, subscription available)
3. G Cloud
Don’t want to use a cloud storage service from one of the big names? G Cloud provides a suitable alternative; it’s a straightforward backup solution for all your Android data, including photos. Despite its name, the app isn’t connected with Google.
After you create an account, the app will ask what categories you want to back up. Make sure to select Photos here. If you want, you can tap the arrow to the right of this field and choose to back up Only Camera Photos. Visit the Data tab if you want to change this in the future.
You can tap Backup Now on the home screen to start a backup anytime. But it’s worth tapping the Gear icon in the top bar to change how the app functions. Select Auto Upload and you can limit backups to only when your device is charging, or on a set schedule. You can also prevent backups from running when you’re using mobile data.
G Cloud provides a small amount of storage space for free. If you need more, visit the Store tab. There, you can earn some additional free space or purchase as needed.
When you need to get your images back, tap the Restore button on the main page. You’ll notice that G Cloud keeps each device separate, allowing you to easily manage the files you’ve backed up from different phones. Choose the device you want to restore from, then confirm the data categories.
While backing up your Android photos is important, G Cloud is a great solution for protecting the other contents of your phone, too.
Download: G Cloud (Free, in-app purchases available)
4. Amazon Photos
Amazon Photos is a lot like Google Photos and OneDrive’s auto-upload feature. And the 5GB of free storage isn’t anything particularly impressive. However, the real draw here is that Prime members get unlimited full-resolution storage for their photos. It’s one of the many Prime benefits that you might have overlooked.
The service provides a similar experience to its competitors. After signing in with your Amazon account and allowing the app access to your photos, you can choose to automatically upload all your photos. Once you’ve done that, you’ll find that Amazon Photos has robust tools for searching, sharing, and organizing your pictures. The app even lets you hide certain photos to keep them protected.
Head to More > Settings to change some options. You should particularly look under Auto-Save, where you can select what to automatically back up, when to do it, and what folders to protect.
If you don’t want to worry about storage limits and already subscribe to Amazon Prime, this app is a clear winner. For a more detailed breakdown, check out our comparison of Google Photos and Amazon Photos.
Download: Amazon Photos (Free, subscription available)
Other Apps for Backing Up Android Photos
As it turns out, several other Android photo backup services are no longer available or have become severely limited. Flickr, the popular photo-sharing service, is one such app that’s no longer acceptable for free mobile cloud backup.
Instead of the generous 1TB limit everyone used to get, free accounts are now limited to a flat 1,000 pictures. In addition, you need a Flickr Pro account to use the automatic photo backup feature. Most non-professional photographers are thus better off with a different option.
Shoebox was another popular app for automatically backing up your photos. Unfortunately, it shut down in mid-2019, so it’s no longer an option.
Battery Optimization Concerns
Newer versions of Android feature a battery optimization feature that automatically puts apps to “sleep” when they aren’t in use. Often, this will prevent automatic photo backup apps from working in the background.
If you don’t open your chosen app for some time, the next time you do, you’ll be greeted with dozens of pictures getting queued for backup. To avoid this (and protect photos in a timely manner), it’s a good idea to regularly open your backup app of choice and make sure everything is proceeding smoothly.
It’s also possible to disable battery optimization for specific apps. Doing so may negatively affect battery life, but you might consider this a suitable tradeoff for timely photo backup.
To make the change, open Settings > Apps & notifications > See all X apps and tap your photo backup app. Expand the Advanced section in the app settings, then hit the Battery field.
Next, tap Battery optimization and you’ll see a new list. Here, select the Not optimized text at the top of the list and set it to All apps. Find the app you want to change in the list, and tap it again. Choose Don’t optimize on the resulting window and tap Done to save your changes.
Keep Your Android Photos and More Safe
Now you have a great selection of apps to protect your photos on Android. Each of these gives you a convenient way to automatically protect your memories, with plenty of space on offer. Set them up now and you won’t ever have to worry about losing irreplaceable photos.
For more on this, check out Android tools for backing up data to your PC.