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How to back up your Google Photos

How to back up your Google Photos


Now that Photos and Drive are no longer automatically syncing

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

So now that automatic synchronization between Google Photos and Google Drive is going away, how can you be sure that your photos and videos are being backed up safely?

It’s actually pretty simple. Your photos can be backed up to Google Photos either via its mobile app or using Google’s Backup and Sync application for Windows and macOS systems.

A couple of notes first. If you decide to remove the Photos app from your Android phone, the Backup and Sync will not automatically turn off, so you’ll want to turn it off before you get rid of the app. (This is not the case with iPhones.)

If you upload your photos in what Google calls “High quality” (in other words, using Google’s compression), they won’t count against your storage quota. However, if you upload them without the compression (in what Google calls “Original quality”), they will, and if you’re uploading large photos, you could run out of storage space very quickly. If that happens, and you don’t want to buy additional space, it’s a good idea to turn the app off.

Back up photos from a phone

If you’re using an Android phone, it’s a pretty sure thing that you’ve already got the Google Photos app.

  • If you don’t, download it from the Play Store or the App Store and open the app.
  • Tap on the three-line menu icon and select “Settings.”
  • Tap on “Backup and sync.”
  • Make sure the “Backup and sync” toggle is set to the “on” position. You can also set a number of other features here; for example, whether videos will also be backed up, whether the backup can also be done using your cellular data or just via Wi-Fi, and whether any other folders (besides your camera folder) on your device should be backed up as well.
Google Backup and Sync
Google Backup and Sync

Back up photos from a Windows or macOS system

If you’re uploading photos from a camera to your computer, you can also back them up to Google Photos using a separate app.

  • Go to Google’s page for its “Backup and Sync” app. Download, install, and start the app.
  • Click on “Get Started” and sign in to your Google account.
  • Choose whether you want to just back up photos and videos, or other files as well. Click on “Next.”
  • At this point, you can select from which folders you want to save you photos. You also choose whether you want your photos saved in “High quality” or “Original quality.”
  • If you click on “Advanced settings” at the bottom of the page, you can choose whether you want to sync your computer files with your Google Drive. (This is different than the automatic sync that, until recently, occurred with Photos since it is done voluntarily through this app, and can include other files besides photos.)
  • Click on “Start.” Your photos will start backing up; when the app is done, you can go to Google Photos on the web and find them there.
Backup Google Photos


After installing, open Backup and Sync

You will see a new icon in your top toolbar. If you click on the icon, it will tell you which files have been recently uploaded, and which were skipped, either because they were already in Google Photos or because they were too large (75MB or 100MP for photos, 10GB for videos) or too small (under 256 x 256).

One thing to keep in mind: if these are important photos to you, for either professional or personal reasons, you might want to consider using a full-featured backup program (that will back your data up to a separate drive) or service (that will back your data up to the cloud), since they can provide additional tools and more varied recovery options.

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