Backing up pictures and videos with Google Photos |

There’s no denying you have way too many pictures and videos stored on your phone or tablet. Who’s really carrying around a dedicated camera these days? We all just use our mobile devices because of the convenience and image quality. But the potential problem with doing so is that you’ll be filling up internal storage really quick, even on newer devices with 128GB of storage, and sometimes moving pictures and videos over to a microSD card isn’t an option. Cloud storage is truly a savior for mobile devices because it gives you an easy way to store all of your precious memories while also quickly accessing them from other devices. Trust me, I use it to move photos to my computer all the time.

Google Photos, which was spun out of Google+ in May 2015, arrived because Android has lacked a media-first cloud storage solution. For the past few years it’s become one of Google’s proudest services, constantly getting updated and adding new features. For this guide, we’re going to show you how to use that service to make sure everything is properly backed up to your Google account.

Let’s get all of those pictures and videos stored in a safe place.

  1. Head over to Google Play to download and install Google Photos on your phone or tablet. Since the app is pre-installed on many devices, the Play Store listing could just present buttons to update or launch Google Photos. Regardless, get Google Photos on your device and open the app.

  2. To get anywhere, swipe in from the left side or find the dedicated menu button at the top left. Either method will cause the slideout menu to appear. This is essentially your portal to everything Google Photos has to offer. As we’re trying to get things backed up, we want to dive into Settings.

  3. The list of settings offered in Google Photos’ Settings page isn’t all too deep, but what we’re wanting to do in this guide can’t even be found here. Jump into the first option, Back up & sync, because that’s obviously what will allow you to decide what Google Photos does with pictures and videos from your device. If you don’t, all you’ll be able to do is direct settings for media already uploaded.

  4. Google Photos has now redirected you to the Backup section of Google Play Services. This is where you get to choose accounts, decide upon upload size and buy more storage, decide when pictures should be backed up.

  5. The key here is Upload size. Google Photos allows for free unlimited storage as long as it can reduce the file size. If you’re not picky about it, Google Photos will let you store an uncapped amount of pictures and videos. However, maintaining original, full resolution comes at a cost. Storing untouched pictures and videos will eat away at the 15GB of storage Google gives to everyone with an account across Gmail, Google Drive, and all of its other services. Raising your total cloud storage with Google starts at 100GB for $1.99 per month. The choice is yours, my friend.

  6. If you want to back up specific folders, this is the place to do it. The main purpose, though, is for this to be the hub of Google Photos’ backup settings. At the very bottom of the list is an option to force Google Photos to start backing up all pictures and videos, as long as your device’s current state is permitted by the settings. Google Photos makes it so that backups only occur when the device is on a WiFi network or connected for charging.

  7. On newer versions of Google Photos, you can also quickly get to your backup status by tapping the cloud icon in the top right of the app, above your photos. This will let you toggle your backups on and off and to see how many pending uploads you have, or if your current backup is complete. Useful shortcut!


Really, that’s it! Now everything you want to be stored in the cloud will be there, going from your device to Google Photos without any flashy notices or required actions. Set it and forget it, and you’ll have access to your photos no matter where you are or what happens to your phone.

Updated July 2019 to reflect newer versions of Google Photos.

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo’s Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.

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