Quick Tip: Back up your photos to Google+

You can use Google+ on either Android or iOS to back up your mobile photos and videos. Here is how it works.

You're likely to take photos and videos with your smartphone. But on-device storage fills quickly when shared with documents, presentations, music, books, apps, and even movies. Limited storage is especially an issue with older or low-end devices. The iPhone 4 offers 8GB of storage; the Nexus 4 also starts with just 8GB of storage. (At the other extreme, Apple offers an iPad with 128GB of storage, while many Android devices offer expandable storage.)

Fortunately, you can use the Google+ on either Android or iOS to back up your photos and videos. When your phone storage is full, you can delete photos from your camera roll, knowing they're saved on Google's servers.

Stored photos

Storing your photos on Google+ also makes them easier to share. Stored photos are private by default, and only shared with people you choose. Once your photos are uploaded, you can view them when logged into your Google+ account from any web browser. (Select Home in the upper left, then Photos to view your photos.)

Auto-backup your photos to Google+, then view or edit from any browser

You control whether your photos upload over Wi-Fi or over mobile networks. Most people will choose to upload photos over Wi-Fi, since that's available at the office, home or on the road. Leisure travelers away from Wi-Fi for extended periods have the option to upload photos using a mobile data plan.

The Google+ iOS and Android apps offer slightly different backup features. Both will store an unlimited number of a standard version of photos, reduced to a maximum side length of 2048 pixels. Android users may choose to store full versions of photos, but storage space required for these counts toward the user's unified Google Drive space. (A free Gmail user gets a total of 15GB of space for Gmail, Google Drive, and Google+ Photos. Google Apps users receive combined 30GB of storage. You can always purchase more storage.)

Android users also have a bit more control over when uploads occur. The Android version can be set to upload only when the device is charging, which can help save battery life. Additionally, the Android version can prohibit uploading over roaming data networks, which may help avoid roaming data charges.

Admittedly, there are many multi-platform options for smartphone photo back up. Dropbox lets you upload your photos to their popular service from their mobile apps. Flickr provides up to 1TB of photo storage for photos. And Microsoft's SkyDrive mobile app works on Windows Phone, in addition to iOS and Android.

But for Google+ users, there's no simpler place to start backing up your photos than the Google+ app. Install the iOS or Android app and login with your Google+ credentials. Then follow the steps for your device below to enable Auto-Backup of your photos.


  • 1. Open the Google+ app, and then tap the Menu button. This brings up the Settings menu.
Tap the menu button to access Settings.
  • 2. Tap "Settings", and then tap the "Camera & photos" options.
Tap Camera & photos
  • 3. Tap "Auto Backup".
Tap Auto Backup
  • 4. Make sure Auto Backup is "on". Then tap and select detailed backup settings, as desired.
Customize upload settings

iOS (iPhone, iPad)

  • 1. Open the Google+ app, and then tap the Menu button in the upper left. (The menu button looks like three horizontal lines, stacked on top of each other. It is sometimes called the "hot dog" menu.)
Tap the Menu button in Google+
  • 2. Tap the sprocket icon to access settings.
Tap the sprocket icon to access settings
  • 3. Tap "Camera and Photos".
Tap "Camera and Photos"
  • 4. Tap "Auto Backup". Make sure the slide is set to "on". Then tap and select backup settings, as desired.
Tap Auto Backup, enable, then customize upload settings

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Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.


Is there a way to set a local album or something to be the only photos backed up. I don't want all my photos to go to google+ but I like Google auto awesome sometimes? It seems like you can only control when photos are uploaded as opposed to being able to pick a set of photos to backup. Thanks :)


How can I see the number of photos uploaded to Google+ ??

If you have 1000 photos or more, then Google+ photo view  is not very helpful.

If my computer or phone counts 10587 photos, then I want Google+ to count the same number.


Wish I had your OS... My Nexus 4 is totally up to date, but I have none of the settings you are showing. I hate the fractured nature of Android because nobody's instructions ever work!


I don't have the original photo files from my phone only the backed up images on Google plus I wanted to print some of these but the resolution is tiny is there anything I can do?


WhenI delete a picture from my camera roll it automatically deletes it from my Google Plus. Can someone help me with this?

Kieron Seymour-Howell
Kieron Seymour-Howell

A word of warning. If you have personal data, do not put it online. If you want strangers to see it, steal it, profile you with it, then go ahead. Number one rule of security is: if you do not have physical control of the system you are using, there is essentially NO guarantee of security. At some point someone will swap out those drives with your data on it, and, then anything may happen to them.


Copy it all up to the desktop's hard driver, then burn two copies. Stash one at home and one at work. Not just photos, but all my data. I may switch to flash drives. I could perform the backup more often and easier, but I'm concerned about possible volatility. On the other hand, I could make a third copy as insurance against corruption; between three of them, I ought to be able to recover everything. Maybe DVD annually and use the flash drives for deltas.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What system, app, or service do you use to back up your photos, especially one's taken with your mobile devices.


Same thing just happened to me, lost all my sons pictures with his grandma. I thought auto backup would allow me to delete from the gallery while maintaing them on Google +