If your phone was destroyed right now, what would happen to your photos? Would they be lost forever?
Our phones can store years of memories, but they’re also notoriously fragile. One accidental drop in the toilet, one wrong fall on the pavement, one lost or stolen phone, and all those memories disappear in an instant.
Don’t let that happen to you. Your photos can be automatically backed up daily, and it’s super simple to set it up. You need to do this before something happens to your phone — not after it’s too late.
So let’s look through five great apps for doing this and see which is the best.
Android is Google’s operating system, so naturally, Google Photos comes preinstalled on most Android devices. It’s a gallery app, a photo editor, and a backup tool all in one. It’s pretty amazing; you even get free unlimited photo storage! That means it can backup all of your photos ever — for free. And given that it’s Google, you know it will be sticking around.
It has a lot of great features that we’ve explored in-depth before, and its automatic photo backup is definitely one of them. It should prompt you to activate this when you first open it, but you can always activate it in the settings menu as well. You can easily adjust how photos are uploaded (Wi-Fi or data) and if your phone needs to be charging or not.
You can store photos that are 16MP or smaller for free (and video up to 1080p resolution). Larger formats will be scaled down, but that’s still some impressive resolution. However, you can decide to upload at full resolution if you want, and that will take away from your Google Drive storage quota.
Once automatic backup is enabled, you can free up space on your phone at any time by swiping in from the left and selecting Free up space. This will delete the copies on your device, while leaving the cloud backups, meaning you can still see and access all your photos with an internet connection — they just won’t take up precious storage space on your phone.
One of the only downsides here is that you’re limited by the Google Photos platform for retrieving these photos later. It has a nice web interface at photos.google.com, but it’s not like a typical cloud storage option. It can be difficult or time-consuming to download all of your photos at once, and switching to another platform would probably be a pain in the future.
So if you’re okay sticking with Google, Google Photos is really unmatched in terms of its automatic photo backup capabilities.
Download for Android: Google Photos (Free)
Download for iPhone or iPad: Google Photos (Free)
Visit: Google Photos on the web
Microsoft has their own automatic photo backup tool: OneDrive. Formerly known as SkyDrive, OneDrive is both a generic cloud storage tool (like Google Drive) and a photo-specific backup tool (like Google Photos).
When you first open the app, it should prompt you to enable Camera upload, but if it doesn’t, it’s easy to activate from the settings. Just like with Google Photos, you can choose if you want to upload over data or only while it’s charging.
Unfortunately, you only get 5GB of free space. Another 50GB will cost $1.99 a month, though you can get 1TB by subscribing to Office 365, which is $6.99 a month for a personal account and gives you access to Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
However, one advantage it does have is that it creates a Pictures folder in your OneDrive account that holds all your uploaded photos. That makes it really easy to download that entire folder if you want to have all your photos locally or move to another backup service — unlike Google Photos. OneDrive also includes a handy automatic tagging feature that makes it easy to find photos under a certain theme, like #outdoor or #portrait.
So you’re essentially giving up free storage space, but you’re gaining flexibility in terms of where your pictures can go in the future. And if you already have an Office 365 subscription, that 1TB of storage makes this a more enticing deal.
Download for Android: OneDrive (Free)
Download for iPhone or iPad: OneDrive (Free)
Visit: OneDrive on the web
G Cloud Backup
For a more customizable backup solution free from large companies like Google or Microsoft, try G Cloud backup. You can adjust its colors, upload more than just photos (including call logs, SMS messages, and calendar appointments), and access all your info from the Android app, iOS app, or the web. Unfortunately, its interface is a little cluttered and hectic.
You get 1GB for free but you can also decide to get a monthly subscription or pay a lifetime rate. The two monthly options are $1.99/month for 32GB or $3.99/month for unlimited storage. Both options remove ads, give you access to premium support, and allow you to use up to 5 devices.
Otherwise, you can purchase lifetime storage upgrades in the form of 1GB for $0.99, 4GB for $2.99, 10GB for $7.99, or unlimited storage for $99.99. You can also buy small extras, like disabling ads alone for $0.99.
By default it shows your percentages of backups right on the home page, which makes it feel more visual than Google Photos or Microsoft OneDrive in the way that it represents your storage. It’s worth a look if you don’t trust your data with either of those larger companies.
Download for Android: G Cloud Backup (Free)
Download for iPhone or iPad: G Cloud Backup (Free)
Visit: G Cloud Backup on the web
Shoebox Photo Backup
If you want an unlimited storage option but don’t want to go with Google Photos, Shoebox is your next best option. It has a very clean, easy-to-use, ad-free interface that’s about as simple as they come. Plus, the free plan includes unlimited photo storage of photos up to 10.6 megapixels (that’s 3,264 pixels on the longest side).
Setup is simple, though it might take a while initially to upload all your photos. It can also upload photos from Facebook if you give it permission. You can set whether it uploads over Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and data, but you can’t make it upload only while charging.
Though you can download photos individually, you also have the option of exporting your entire collection, which makes it convenient if you want to switch platforms.
The Pro version is only $5/month and includes unlimited photos of any size, as well as up to 10 hours of video footage. Definitely check it out if you have a ton of photos but are wary of Google.
Download for Android: Shoebox Photo Backup
Download for iPhone or iPad: Shoebox Photo Backup (Free)
Amazon Prime Photos
This one is only available for Amazon Prime members, so if that’s not you, you might want to consider signing up for Amazon Prime. This service used to be mainly for free shipping, but Amazon has expanded it to include so many other things, including Prime Video and Prime Photos.
You get unlimited photo storage for up to five people for as long as you’re subscribed to Amazon Prime. It has an auto-tagging feature similar to OneDrive so that you can search for “beach” and only get photos from your collection that include the beach.
If you have an Amazon Fire tablet, it’s also one of the few apps that’s available on the Amazon App Store (even though you could download the Google Play Store if you wanted).
This app won’t be for everyone, but if your household already has a Prime subscription for other reasons, it’s definitely a solid bonus.
Download for Android: Amazon Prime Photos (Free)
Download for Amazon devices: Amazon Prime Photos (Free)
Download for iPhone or iPad: Amazon Prime Photos (Free)
Which Is the Best?
That answer really comes down to your personal needs. If you’re devoted to the Google ecosystem, there’s no reason not to use Google Photos. It integrates easily with everything and is unlimited at a pretty decent resolution.
For those who want unlimited storage without Google, try Shoebox. And if neither of those tickle your fancy, try out OneDrive or G Cloud Backup. Prime Photos is really only for folks who already have a Prime subscription and plan to keep it indefinitely.
But which is your favorite? Did we miss one? Let us know down in the comments below!
Originally written by Riley J. Dennis on December 7th, 2013.