4 Ways to Sync and Upload Photos to Cloud Storage on Android
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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 10 Awesome Amazon Prime Benefits You've Probably Overlooked 10 Awesome Amazon Prime Benefits You've Probably Overlooked Free two-day shipping is just the beginning. Here are some notable Amazon Prime subscription benefits you may not know about. Read More .

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 4 Tools to Back Up Your Android Device to Your PC 4 Tools to Back Up Your Android Device to Your PC Backing up your Android device to a PC is the best way to ensure you don't ever lose precious data. Here are the best solutions for backing up your phone. Read More .

Explore more about: Amazon Photos, Cloud Backup, Cloud Storage, Data Backup, Google Photos, Microsoft OneDrive, Smartphone Photography.

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  1. Alan Trinder
    December 16, 2016 at 2:23 am

    Rather surprised that there is no mention of Flickr who give free 1 TB and have all the auto upload features.

  2. Marty
    December 5, 2015 at 6:05 am

    I use Foldersync to my personal server, but it lacks the ability to view old photos on the phone.

  3. Anonymous
    June 5, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    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.

  4. PicBackMan
    February 21, 2014 at 8:43 am

    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
      February 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      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!

  5. pedrajas78
    February 12, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    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.

  6. GA
    January 15, 2014 at 7:43 am

    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.

  7. Arthur S
    December 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    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.

  8. Tony Karakashian
    December 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Been using FolderSync (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dk.tacit.android.foldersync.lite) for some time now. It supports all of the services listed above (except Flickr, but including copy.com mentioned in the comments), and then some. It's very flexible, but max flexibility is achieved with the full version and Tasker. I also use it as my primary file browser since all of my cloud services are already integrated.

  9. Muy Galan
    December 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Since Copy (www.copy.com) offers 20GB of space, I always wondered if there's a way to auto-sync photos using their cloud storage? My Dropbox automatically does this, but I'm running out of storage space in their cloud.

    • DrewDownUnder
      April 19, 2014 at 5:02 am

      Yes, this is a feature of their app called PhotoCopy. It's available in the preferences of the app ( mine was disabled by default.)

  10. Ronnie
    December 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Auto photo upload and a 20 gig limit.

  11. Ronnie
    December 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    'Copy' is fantastic. Both the android and web/windows app.

  12. RubenRybnik
    December 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    For a much finer grain control of uploading, not only photos, but any files I prefer DropSync (Dropbox Only) or FolderSync ( Many services ). Two-way sync of arbitrary folders rocks!

  13. Collin R
    December 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    I personally use:

    Photofeed which gives me unlimited auto back-up of all my photos.
    My Shoebox which is unlimited backup for a reduced res, but auto backup & organizing
    HP Connected Photo which is also unlimited back up automatically, & run by snapfish, so I can print them to albums for presents.

    I think these should have been on there too. They have more features & don't have any problems that I know of with these system of uploading on my Moto x.

  14. Dace
    December 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Sugarsync does the same as Dropbox.