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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