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You can’t replace lost photos – Simple ways to get them off your phone

Scroll through the photo gallery on your phone. I bet you have hundreds or even thousands of photos. Those are all precious memories you can’t replace if they’re lost.

Ever struggle to find a specific picture in your collection? Here’s a super simple trick that works for iPhone and Androids. You can thank me later.

I know you want to use Photoshop to edit your photos, but it’s expensive. You can get pretty much the same functions in free programs. Tap or click here for free programs you can use that work just as well as Photoshop.

Once you get your photos cleaned up, there are plenty of ways you can back up your photos so they’re safe — no matter what happens to your device. The method is up to you. Just don’t wait till it’s too late.

Back up your photos to the cloud

Both Android and iOS let you back up your photos to the cloud for safekeeping. It’s easy, and you don’t have to install extra software to do it.

On an iPhone:

  • Open Settings on your device and tap your name at the top.
  • Tap iCloud, then tap Photos.
  • Turn on iCloud Photos to start saving your photos to the cloud.

The process may take some time to complete. Once it’s finished, any photos you take will be automatically saved to the cloud. You can also view them on your desktop by signing into with your Apple ID.

On Android:

  • Open the Google Photos app and sign in if you need to.
  • On the top right, tap your account photo or initial.
  • Select Photos settings, followed by Back up & sync.
  • Toggle Back up & sync on.

Once your backup is done, future photos you take will be automatically saved to the cloud. You can view, edit and sort them inside the Google Photos app and see them from your desktop at

Note: iCloud and Google Photos come with a limited amount of free storage. More will cost you 99 cents to $1.99 per month.

Good news if you have an Amazon Prime account: Amazon Photos offers free unlimited, full-resolution photo storage, plus 5 GB of video storage for Prime members. Tap or click here to get a 30-day free trial if you want to try it out.

Investing in a secure backup service is smart if you’re worried about your photos getting into the wrong hands. My pick is IDrive, a sponsor of my national radio show. For a few bucks a month, you can upload all your files to one account that has much more protection.

TECH TRICKS: I love collecting little tech secrets that you can use over and over again. Tap or click for 10 tech secrets you’ll wish you knew sooner. 

Just say no to USB thumb drives

It might seem tempting to store all your photos on a USB thumb drive. If you do, you end up trading security for convenience.

USB thumb drives are small and lightweight, which makes them easy to lose. Plus, cheap drives don’t usually have encryption or password protection. Think about how you’d feel if someone swiped yours.

More expensive drives like the USB-powered PhotoStick are explicitly marketed for photo backups. For the most part, it’s just a 128GB flash drive. It’s lightweight and easy to lose and doesn’t offer any security.

The big selling point is its onboard software that shows you how to move your photos. But Amazon reviewers are mixed.

So how can you use all those thumb drives you have sitting around? Here are some smart ideas, including creating a Windows recovery drive, scanning for viruses and using it as a key that unlocks your PC. 

If you need your photos nearby, go with a secure external drive

If you want to store your photos physically, a secure external drive is a smarter choice. These devices tend to have higher storage capacity and faster speeds than thumb drives. They’re also bigger, which means they’re harder to lose.

Thankfully, they’re much cheaper now than they were a few years ago.

This external hard drive from Seagate gives you reliable performance and speed for its size. The hard drive has 2TB of storage, which means you can fit up to 500,000 photos.

This external drive from LaCie comes with a cushioned exterior to protect it from drops and bumps. If you’re worried about breaking your hard drive and losing your photos, this rugged 2TB device is a perfect choice.

If you’re looking for something a bit more secure, go with an encrypted external drive. This hard drive from Apricorn features a 10-digit keypad that protects the contents from being read. You can only get in if you know the code — which means your files are safe if the hard drive is lost or stolen. How cool is that?

Now that you know how easy it is to get your photos off your phone, you have no excuse. Take some time to protect all your memories. Otherwise, you could be out of luck the next time your phone breaks.

Your photos are a mess

How do you organize your photos? How do you get rid of the duplicates? Tap or click here for my guide to get your photos under control (Updated).

Need expert tech help you can trust? Post your tech questions and get reliable answers from me and other tech pros. Try it now.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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