How to back up your photos on iPhone: iCloud and other options

It’s not much of a stretch to assume that the only camera you have is the one on the back of your iPhone. The iPhone camera has gotten better with each successive model, and the fact that it fits conveniently in your pocket means it’s never been easier to take pictures. But how do you back up those photos and make sure they’re safe? If you misplace or break your phone, the last thing you want to worry about is losing all those irreplaceable memories.

Keep reading because this article will go over the options you have to back up your photos on your iPhone.

Before you back up your iPhone photos

While most of the options in this article offer free backup solutions, some of them have storage limits, so you won’t want to eat up space by backing up pictures you don’t want anymore. Everyone has clutter in their photo libraries — old screenshots they’ve been meaning to delete or similar-looking photos you took trying to get the perfect pic. All of that can add up, and if you don’t spend the time to go through them, you could be wasting money on increased backup storage.

Fortunately, you can use an app like Gemini Photos to quickly scan your entire photo library. When the scan finishes, the app will sort your library into categories like Similar, Screenshots, Videos, and Blurred, making it easier for you to go through and delete the ones you don’t want anymore.

What are your options for iPhone photo backup?

When iPhone was first released over a decade ago, the only way to back up your photos was by physically connecting your phone to a computer and syncing with iTunes. Today, there are several ways to do it. Most of them are with a cloud service, meaning your photos sync whenever your iPhone is connected to the internet, and you never have to think about plugging it in. A few popular cloud-based services include:

  • AnyTrans
  • iCloud Photos
  • Google Photos
  • Amazon Photos

How to back up photos from iPhone to Mac with AnyTrans

One way to backup your photos to your Mac is with the app AnyTrans. Once you have it downloaded and opened on your Mac:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable.
  2. Click Device Manager > Content to Mac.
  3. Uncheck the Select All box and check only Camera Roll, Photo Library, and Albums.
  4. Click Next.
  5. When it’s finished, you can click View Files to see the pictures you just transferred.

How to back up your photos to iCloud

If you’re looking for a backup solution that doesn’t require plugging your iPhone into your computer, then you can use the Apple service iCloud Photo Library. To use this, you’ll need to sign in with an Apple ID. If you don’t have one yet, you can create first. To use iCloud Photo Library:

  1. On your iPhone, Tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud.

Note: If you don’t see your name after you open Settings, that means you’re not signed in to an iCloud account. Instead of tapping on your name, tap Sign in to iCloud.

  1. Tap Photos.
  2. Turn on iCloud Photos.

Something to keep in mind is that you only get 5GB of storage for free with iCloud. That means you should definitely clean up your photo library before you start backing up. If you still need more space, you can pay to upgrade your storage limit.

How to back up pictures on iPhone with Google Photos

If you like the idea of backing up without having to continually plug your phone into your computer but don’t want to pay to back up your entire library, then Google Photos offers a solution. Google offers unlimited photo backups, as long as you allow it to save compressed photos as the backup.

  1. Download and open Google Photos on your iPhone.
  2. Sign in to your Google account.
  3. At the top, tap the Menu icon.
  4. Tap Settings > Back up & sync.
  5. Turn on “Back up & sync.”

If you want to back up your original, uncompressed photos, you can use Google One storage. You get 15 GBs for free, and, like iCloud, if that’s not enough, you can pay to upgrade your storage limit.

How to back up your iPhone photos with Amazon Photos

Another backup solution for your iPhone photos is Amazon Photos. If you’re a fan of free, automatic, wireless backups but want something that doesn’t compress your pictures, then this is the service for you — especially if you’re already an Amazon Prime member.

  1. On your iPhone, download and open Amazon Photos.
  2. Sign in using your Amazon Prime account.
  3. Make sure Auto-Save is turned on.
  4. Leave the app open to sync.

If you’re logged in but Auto-Save isn’t on, you can turn it on in the app by tapping More > Settings > Uploads.

Free uncompressed storage is a great bonus if you’re already a Prime Member. But if you’re not a prime member, you can get 5 GB free, and, like iCloud and Google, you can pay to upgrade that storage limit.

Backing up your photos, whether it’s to your Mac or to the cloud, is a crucial part of owning an iPhone. If anything happens to your iPhone, you don’t want to add salt to the wound by realizing all those irreplaceable pictures and videos are gone with it. (And if you've synced your iPhone and iPad, they'll be gone from your iPad as well.) With all the backup options covered in this article, the hardest part will be figuring out which one you like best. 

Gemini Photos
Too many iPhone photos?

Gemini Photos: Keep just the good ones