Backing up your Photos for Free With Google+

So now that all your photos are digital, how are you backing up your photos? Are they just sitting on that old dell, waiting for a hard drive failure to wipe them out? Or did you back them up to DVD or external hard drive, only leaving yourself open to loss by theft, fire, flood, kids, or whatever else life throws at you? And did you include your hundreds of in-the-moment camera phone pictures in your backup scheme, or are you a toilet incident away from losing those too? The majority of people I know don’t back up their photos well because it’s too much work. They’d have to go through those 400 pictures from Mexico, organize them, remember how to back stuff up to DVD, etc, etc. Using Google+ to back them up solves a few problems like:

  • Backing up photos at a reasonable quality
  • Organizing photos
  • Providing automatic, minor photo touch ups
  • Highlighting interesting photos
  • Managing both your SLR or Point and Shoot camera photos AND your camera phone photos.

Google’s also pretty good about letting you download your stuff if you decide to leave for another service. So here’s the scoop: Google+ lets you do unlimited photo uploads at 2048 pixels, that’s about 3 Megapixels if you’re counting and that’s plenty to do regular sized photo prints. Picasa, Google’s desktop photo managing software, lets you automatically resize and upload pictures from your computer, while the Google+ app on iPhone or Android lets you automatically resize and upload pictures taken on your phone. As of this writing, backed up photos aren’t shared with anyone other than yourself, but you can modify that setting if you wish.

Step 1: Create a Google+ account. Use the same login as your phone if you have an Android. Circle me 🙂

Phone to do:

  1. Download the Google+ app on your phone.Google plus
  2. Head into settings, camera & photos, auto backup
  3. Set photo size to standard (2048 px)
  4. Set it to backup photos (I usually set it to only backup when on Wi-Fi)
  5. Hit “backup all” (this step will take a while as your phone uploads all your pictures)
  6. Realize that if you have any naughty pics on your phone, this is probably going to back them up too.

Desktop to do:

  1. Download Picasa from Google.
  2. Install it
  3. Start it, let it find all your pictures (this step might take a while)
  4. Go into tools->options
  5. Set your default upload size to “best for web sharing” 2048 px
  6. Hit the “don’t confirm every sync” (it’s annoying)
  7. To upload, you can either go through the bulk upload, or hit the “sync to web” slider in the top right on all the folders you want to sync.
  8. The blue pinwheel in the top right will start spinning to let you know it’s backing stuff up.
  9. Remember that it’s backing up any naughty pics too. (Not that you have any)



After it’s all said and done, you can login to Google+ and go to your photos area to see all your photos. At least your photos are now somewhere infinitely safer than your desktop PC. Even better, Google+ automagically touches up your photos (while still keeping a copy of the original), touching up colors, pulling together smiles from multiple group pictures to make an impossible “everyone smiling at once” photo that’s so hard to get with kids. It also automatically highlights photos, so you can upload 400 photos from your Mexican vacation guilt-free and it’ll find the good ones. One other thing it can do at a basic level is understand what’s in the photos. You can search for things like “cats” and it’ll find pictures with cats in them. As Google gets better at understanding what’s inside images, this feature will really start to get useful. In short, make Google+ do all that stuff you’ve been meaning to do with your photos, but didn’t have the time to.

Alternative route: If you demand more resolution or are scared of Google, use Flickr or burn your pics to DVD and put them in a safe, and then bury the safe and encase it in cement.


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