Aug 6th, 2016

Not every device these days comes with ample internal storage. Whether your Android phone is close to getting max’d out or giving you the dreaded “low storage space” warning message — you’re going to need to back things up. It’s also important in the event your phone ever goes missing, is stolen, or it’s simply time to upgrade to something new. While there are various apps and services you could use to backup your media to the cloud, without a doubt one of the easiest (and most affordable) is by using Google Photos.

Google Photos offers unlimited high-quality photo backups (and videos up to 1080p), making it the perfect solution for offloading all those photos and videos using up your precious internal storage. Since Google Photos comes pre-installed on most Android devices, it should already be in your app drawer under “Photos.” If it’s not already on your device, you can download it from the Google Play Store right here.

Back up your camera roll

When you first open Photos, you’ll be presented with a chronological timeline of your camera roll — everything that’s both stored on your phone and media that’s been backed up to Photos in the cloud. To enable the backing up of photos and videos from your camera roll, you’ll first need to turn it on. You can do this by following these simple steps:

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Open the slide out menu by swiping from the left edge of the screen
  3. Tap on Settings
  4. Select Back up & sync
  5. Tap the Back up & sync switch to turn it on

It doesn’t work right away. You’ll first have to wait until you’re connected to WiFi before a backup takes place. There are settings to change this, with the option to start backing up as soon as a photo is taken via a cellular connection (photos or videos) but only recommended if you have an unlimited data plan. You can also set it so that backups only take place while your phone is charging, something that can help conserve battery life and gives you a little time to manage photos before they’re sent to the cloud.

Back up other folders on your device

Keep in mind that enabling back up & sync will only back up photos & videos taken with your camera app — not all the things you’ve downloaded online or from messaging apps, emails, or social networks. To back those up, you’ll need to select do the following:

  1. Select Back up device folders
  2. Tap on the names of folders you also want backed up

Or…

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Open the slide out menu by swiping from the left edge of the screen
  3. Tap on Device folders
  4. Tap on the cloud icon to back up specific folders
  5. Backed up folders will have a blue highlighted cloud icon

How do I know if my photos have been backed up?

Google Photos backup refresh

The main Photos section shows you all the photos/videos taken from your camera roll — and the folders you’ve chosen to back up — in perfect chronological order. If you see a photo or video here, it’s already backed up to your account. The exception to this being photos/videos with the circular arrow icon in the bottom right corner. This means these photos/videos are either in the process of being synced, or waiting for the correct connection settings (WiFi, while charging, etc.) before being uploaded.

Since these aren’t backed up yet, you may want to wait until the arrows icon disappear before factory resetting your device or deleting them from a separate gallery app.

Delete photos/videos from your phone that have already been backed up

Although not everyone will want to go this route, for many, the main reason they’re even using Photo is because they’re running out of space on their phone. For those, Google makes it super easy to free up precious internal storage by deleting the media you’ve already been backed up to your account. You just have to enable it.

It’s called Free up device storage and can be located in the Photo settings. When selected, Photos will ask you to confirm you’d like to delete your photos & videos that have already been safely backed up to the cloud. Once selected, sit back and wait while Photos does all the work for you.

Additional settings, features, and tools

Once backed up to Google Photos, all your photos will be stored in the cloud and immediately accessible from all your devices, computers, or other web connected devices. The benefit of having your photos backed up to your Google Photos account means you can easily share these photos, videos, and album collections with others, then collaborate or access them from any internet connected device via the app or website.

It’s more than just backup. Google Photos offers a plethora of features and tools to take advantage of. Here are a few:

  • Visual Search – Photos are automatically searchable by the people, places and things in them. Try searching “dog,” “food,” or a specific place to pull up relevant photos.
  • Bring photos to life – Photos will automatically create montage movies, interactive stories, collages, animations, panoramas, and more from your photos. You can also create them yourself by tapping the “+” button.
  • Easy editing – Photos features powerful, easy to use photo editing tools to apply filters or adjust the image however you like.
  • Shared albums – By adding friends or family to a shared album, you can compile all your photos from an event into one single place.
  • Instant sharing – Photos and videos can instantly be shared with anyone by tapping the “Create Link” button and sharing it with whomever you like.
  • Rediscover your photos -The “Assistant” feature in Photos can automatically create collages of your old photos, or help you relive the past by pulling up old ones.
  • Ready to Cast – With Chromecast support, it’s easy to cast all your photos and videos to your TV.

And of course…

  • Unlimited free high quality storage – All of your photos and videos are stored safely in the cloud and viewable via the app or on the web at photos.google.com.
  • Free up space on your device – Never worry about your smartphone or tablet running out of storage with the ability to remove media that’s already been backed up.

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And that’s all there is to it. Photo and video backup shouldn’t be something you have to worry about on Android and Google Photos makes the whole process easy and painless. Should you decide you’d like to save your photos and video in their full, original quality, you also have that option but should definitely consider upgrading your Google Drive Storage first. For the vast majority of folks, Google Photos should fulfill the need to keep all their photos and video backed up safely in the cloud.

Download on Google Play: Google Photos

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