I have a friend who recently nearly lost all of his photos of his daughter. He had his iPhone for just about two years. He took tons of pictures of her. She wasn’t even two years old yet, so basically her whole life was on his iPhone. One day, his phone crashed and he couldn’t figure out what happened to it. His pictures were lost.
He was eventually able to recover his photos, but not without hours of work and days of anxiety. When I asked him why he didn’t just back his photos up, he had no good response. Always back up your photos. Seriously. Always back up your photos. We’ve got a tutorial on a few different ways you can back up your photos so you’ll never have to face the dreaded lost memories again…
Apple stores your photos in iCloud. This makes it possible for you to save, a lot of photos, but you should find another way to back them up or you will lose the ones that don’t fit into the 5GB of free iCloud storage that you get.
How to back up your photos to your desktop
If you use a Mac, my best suggestion is to use the free Photos app that come with OS X for your desktop or laptop. Photos is a replacement to iPhoto, which is not supported by Apple anymore. If you consider yourself a pretty good amateur photographer, you will find Lightroom to be a well-rounded feature-heavy photo application for your Mac. However, if you just like snapping pics at the beach, Photos is simple and effective for storing images. Plus, all of the My Photo Stream pictures that you take on your iPhone will automatically go directly into Photos, so you don’t have to upload them to anything. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to back your photos up though.
When you connect your iPhone to a computer running Photos or Lightroom, go to the Import tab to automatically upload your pictures into one of the programs, not in My Photo Stream, but in the application itself. Now, your images are officially saved to your computer and you can delete them.
Tip: click the button that reads, “Delete items” in Photos to delete photos from your iPhone after importing them, if you want to make room on your iPhone for more photos.
How to backup your photos to iCloud Photo Library
Apple offers a paid service that lets you automatically backup your photos from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac to iCloud. This is probably the best option to back up your photos without any user interaction, but of course it is not free. Plans start at $0.99/month for 50Gb of storage, and go up to $9.99/month for 1TB of storage.
Before activating iCloud Photo Library, it would be wise to upgrade your iCloud storage by going to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Buy More Storage. Start with the 50GB plan and see if you need more. Most people should be fine with this $0.99/month plan.
Once this is done, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos. Turn on iCloud Photo Library. Then select the Optimize iPhone Storage option to make more room on your iPhone. Repeat the process on all your iOS devices, such as your iPad and iPod touch.
From now, any photo or video you take from any iOS device on which you activated iCloud Photo Library will be automatically uploaded to iCloud, without having you to do anything. This is a great way to backup your photos without having to think about it.
How to back up your photos in the cloud
Automatically back up your photos to Dropbox from your desktop
If you own a Dropbox account, you can also automatically store your photos in their cloud. If you connect your iPhone to a computer with Dropbox installed, you can turn on Camera Upload and photos and videos will automatically download to Dropbox.
To do so, go to Dropbox > Settings > Preferences > Import, and check the “Enable camera uploads.” You can then choose to import both photos and videos, or photos only. Doing so will automatically import your photos to Dropbox when your iPhone is connected.
However, keep in mind that Dropbox has a limited amount of free storage available. When you run out, you have to pay for an upgrade. You get 2 GB of storage with a free account. If you don’t have an account yet, click this link to create one. You’ll get a free additional 500MB of storage space.
Automatically back up your photos to Dropbox from your iPhone
When you first launch the Dropbox app, it will offer to save your photos to Dropbox, as seen on the screenshot below.
If you didn’t enable this feature at launch but want to do it now, follow the following steps:
Step 1: In the Dropbox app, go to Settings > Camera Upload > On.
Step 2: Select whether you want Dropbox to only upload pictures while on Wi-Fi (recommended) or while or Wi-Fi+cellular (not recommended if you have a capped data plan).
Step 3: Tap “Enable.” Dropbox will ask permission to access your photos. Say OK. The app will then start uploading all your photos.
Note that Dropbox also allows you to manually upload selected photos rather than upload all of them at once.
Back up your photos to Flickr from your iPhone
Another cloud storage service that lets you upload images right from your iPhone is Flickr. Flickr offers 1TB of free space, so it is the best cloud storage service for the price around. Uploading photos from your iPhone to Flickr is pretty easy.
You’ll need to download the Flickr app. Then launch the app, which should ask you if you want to activate the Auto-Uploadr. Turn it on if you want Flickr to automatically backup all your photos, or leave it off if you want to manually chose what photos are sent to Flickr. You can also control this feature from inside the Flickr app, by going to Settings > Auto-Uploadr.
If you want to manually choose what photos and videos are backed up to Flickr, tap the camera icon at the bottom center of the screen. Then, select the images you want to upload. You can select multiple photos for simultaneous uploading. It can take a while, so you should do this often if Flickr is going to be your method of backing up.
You can add filters right in the app before you send them to Flickr. After you’ve added a group name, description, and location, then tap the upload button and they will be added to your Flickr Photo Stream.
Note: all photos uploaded to Flickr are automatically set to private, which means no one but you will be able to see them. You can change this privacy setting at any time from within the app.
Now you have learned about different ways that you can back up your iOS photos. Don’t be like my friend and think you are immune to the possibility of losing everything.
How do you back up your photos?