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Tech tips

You can’t replace your photos – get them off your phone now

How many photos are on your smartphone? A study conducted by Gigaom found the average person keeps 630 photos and 25 videos on their device — but many of us have thousands.

It might seem convenient to keep all your photos in one spot, but if you aren’t backing them up, you could lose everything if your phone breaks. Tap or click here to see mistakes you’re making with your phone that’s killing it.

If you want to protect your photos long-term, get them off of your phone and stored somewhere safe. Between cloud storage, physical backups and secure hard drives, there are plenty of ways you can back up your photos so they’re safe and sound — no matter what happens to your device. These insider tips will show you how.

1. 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 convert your photos or install extra software to do it. Just follow these steps to get your photo library copied and saved.

On iOS:

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

The process may take some time to complete, especially if you have a ton of media. 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:

  1. On your Android device, open the Google Photos app. You may be asked to sign in to your Google account.
  2. On the top right, tap your account photo or initial.
  3. Select Photos settings, followed by Back up & sync.
  4. Toggle Back up & sync on.

This process may take some time to finish. Once your backup is done, future photos you take will be automatically saved to the cloud.

Once your photos are backed up to Google Photos, you can view, edit and sort them inside the Google Photos app. You can also see them from your desktop here at

For extra peace of mind, you can also back up your entire phone to the cloud. This means you can restore your phone settings (and photos) just as they are now if you lose or replace your device.

Note: Both iCloud and Google Photos come with a limited amount of free storage. For iCloud, you get 5GB free. To upgrade to 50GB, you’ll pay $0.99 per month. Google Photos offers 15GB of free storage, and upgrading to 100GB will run you $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.

Not a member yet? Tap or click here to get a 30-day free trial, just in time for Amazon Prime Day.

To back up your iPhone to iCloud:

  1. Open Settings on your device and tap your name at the top.
  2. Tap iCloud.
  3. Scroll down and tap on iCloud Backup.
  4. Turn the backup on (if it isn’t already) and tap Back Up Now to get started.

You may need to sign in with your Apple ID and password if you haven’t logged on in a while.

To back up your Android to the cloud:

  1. Open the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Tap System, followed by Backup. If you don’t see it, try searching the Settings app for the word backup. If you still can’t find it, check out Google’s list of manufacturers to find a guide for your device.
  3. Tap Back up now and tap Continue to confirm.

2. Use a reliable backup service to protect your photos

As convenient as iCloud and Google Photos are, account theft is a major issue. If someone hacks your Apple ID or Google Account, you could end up losing your valuable, private photos and videos to cybercriminals.

Tap or click here to see how to protect your Apple ID from hackers.

That’s why investing in a secure backup service is the best option. Our sponsor IDrive is a perfect solution for storing photos. You can even save backups of Apple and Android devices to the same IDrive account.

If you have photos on your phone, IDrive can save them to a secure cloud drive with up to 5TB of storage. You can also upload photos directly from your PC or Mac — and can back up multiple devices at once. Everything syncs to one account, too, so it’s easy to keep track of all your photos.

Right now, you can go to and use promo code Kim to save 90% on 5 TB of cloud backup! That’s only $6.95 for the first year — even cheaper than what Apple charges for a similar amount of storage on iCloud.

Related: Tap or click here to see how to save files from a failing hard drive.

3. Watch out for quick fixes like 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, the cheapest drives don’t usually have any kind of encryption or password protection. Think about how you’d feel if someone swiped yours, with all your private photos on it.

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

The big selling point is its onboard software that shows you how to move your photos. But Amazon reviewers are mixed. Some users weren’t very impressed, noting the software has a tendency to crash right in the middle of backing up.

“It started to download photos, then it just stopped. Computer said there was a problem with the photo stick, so I clicked to scan and fix. Tried again started working then stopped again, and said there was a problem, ran scan and fix again then couldn’t use it at all, got a message “can’t run this app on your pc” check app publisher for correct version. Won’t open at all now, have to return. Really wanted it to work too.” – MissyCat

Some people had more luck, though.

“I had a grand total of about 60,000 images, with many duplicates. This little ‘stick’ managed to eliminate the duplicates so that I now have about 24,000 originals preserved forever in a fire-proof vault, a cost-free and independent method of safekeeping.” – Cyril

4. If you need your photos nearby, try 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.

With an external drive, you want to strike the right balance between storage, price and features. 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 contains 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.

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. You won’t regret it. Otherwise, you could be out of luck the next time your phone breaks.

Tap or click here to see why you should always back up your data before its too late.

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

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