How to Back Up Your Photos With Google Photos

Manage your photos for free from any device

Phone uploading to cloud held in hand

NicoElNino / Getty Images

Google Photos provides unlimited, cloud-based photo storage and makes it easy to back up photos from any device. The process is mostly automatic when you use the Google Photos app, which is available for smartphones, tablets, and computers.

In July 2019, Google disconnected Google Photos from Google Drive. This means that your photos will not sync automatically to your Drive, only to your Photos. Google did this in part because the connection confused many users; for example, any changes to photos in Drive—say, deletions—were automatically reflected in Photos. The two services are now completely separate. You can still upload photos to Drive (and use Google Backup and Sync to do so automatically), but remember that they will count against Drive's data allotment.

Backing up Your Mobile Device’s Photos to Google Photos

You’ll first need to download the appropriate Google Photos App for your iOS or Android device. Once you've downloaded and installed the app, the process is the same, regardless of platform.

The screenshots here were taken on an Android device.

  1. Open the Google Photos app on your mobile device.

  2. In the top left corner of the application, tap the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines).

  3. Choose Settings.

    Google Photos settings
  4. Select Back up & Sync.

  5. Select the ON position. From this screen, you also can choose which folders on your device to back up, what kinds of media you want to upload when you're using cellular data, and whether you want to do so when your device is roaming outside of your carrier's operating area.

    Back up & sync options

Backing up the Photos on Your Computer to Google Photo (Win or Mac)

Google offers an app specifically for backing up the photos on your computer: Backup and Sync.

  1. Go to https://photos.google.com/apps in your browser.

  2. Click Download.

    Backup and Sync download page
  3. Open the installer and follow the onscreen setup instructions.

  4. Launch Backup and Sync.

  5. Sign in to the Google Account that you use for Google Photos.

  6. Select what you'd like to back up: photos and/or videos or all files, plus any specific folders.

    Backup and Sync preferences
  7. To choose your upload size, click on High Quality next to Uploading photos and videos.

    Choose photo and video upload quality

Google Photos gives you unlimited storage of full-resolution photos, so High quality is generally the best option.

Things to Remember

You can save space on your device by deleting the photos and videos you've backed up on Google Photos. The items will remain in Google Photos, regardless of what you do on your device.

Likewise, if you delete an item from Google Photos, it will stay on your computer.

As with any important files, you should back up your photos in at least two places—for example, Google Photos and an external hard drive.