If you are one of those who accumulates hundreds of photos on your cell phone and usually run out of storage capacity, an excellent solution is to back them up in the cloud in services such as Google Photos, OneDrive or Dropbox. However, it is also possible to transfer and save photos from an Android phone to a computer or an external hard drive. And here we explain how to do it.
Most users do not usually edit or delete their photos, turning their phones into real “digital cemeteries”. If you want to archive your moments for later viewing, you’ll need to know how to back up your photos. There are several ways to do it, even when you do not have a cable on hand and we will explain them here.
Are you an iOS user? Then check out our guide on transferring photos from an iPhone.
One of the best features of Android is its virtually unrestricted access to the file system. The fact that you only need to connect your phone to your computer using the included USB cable makes it easy to download each and every image. You can drag them to any desktop application or to your file system.
We believe this is the easiest method and the only downside is that you need a computer and your charging cable at hand.
If you use Windows, the automatic USB connection prompts will show you options to manage the device as soon as it connects. If you have a Mac, there are a few options, like the Android file transfer program .
The Google Drive backup service is the easiest method to back up all your photos and then delete them from your Android phone. The app comes standard on almost all Android devices and works in the background, uploading files to Google Drive for easy access to other devices.
Synchronized photos are also kept private, which means you don’t have to worry that some embarrassing photos end up in the wrong hands, although they are easily accessible from your Google drive.
Also, enabling Google Drive backup options is easy. In the app, press the Menu button or icon, and then open the Settings Menu.
Here, you can adjust automatic backup to be on or off, as well as change settings.
To access and download your synchronized photos, you will have to open your Google Drive. The photos are stored in a private folder called “Google Photos”. Open this folder, browse and download your photos directly to your desktop.
If you don’t want to enable sync, you can also upload the files you choose from the phone to your drive. Open your phone’s photo gallery, open an image, and then tap the “Share” button.
From there, you can select the multiple sharing option. Tap the Google Drive icon and the files will load. Once loaded, you can access the images through Google Drive.
Please note, however, that any files uploaded to Google Drive will take up your allocated storage space. Therefore, you may want to periodically clean your drive or opt for a more robust storage plan.
Google Photos works similarly to Google Drive. In fact, the user interface and experience is almost identical because they both share Google’s language and style. Of course, this application is strictly aimed at storing photos and videos, while Google Drive handles all kinds of files.
But Google Photos offers a series of useful tools that will allow you to edit and share your creations or automatically group photos and videos into collections.
The service also lets you stream content to a Chromecast, keep photos private unless specified, and perform smart searches using machine learning. The “wizard” can even create fun projects with your images, such as slide shows, some collage, and animations.
Also, best of all, you can access your photos from almost any device, not just those running Android. And if your biggest concern is backing up your images, Google Photos may be a good solution for you.
Also, the service is free, storage is unlimited and, unlike Google Drive, it does not affect the allocated amount of storage.
Google has also recently improved performance, which means Photos is now twice as fast. However, the service only supports JPEG photos up to 16 megapixels in size and Full HD (1080p) videos.
So if you have a phone that shoots RAW or 4K, you will have to allow Google Photos to display these files or save it to your Google Drive account. But, at the moment, few users have smartphones that exceed those specifications.
Google Photos is also easy to set up and use. Once you connect it to your Google ID, the app will automatically load any new content.
However, make sure before setting up Google Photos to sync only when your phone is on a Wi-Fi network, by accessing the Settings menu in the upper right corner of the app.
Otherwise, it could greatly affect your cellular data plan.
Unlike the iPhone, many Android devices allow you to expand your storage through a MicroSD card. With a large capacity, you can configure the compatible photo applications to save the content directly to the card instead of using the internal storage of the phone. This is especially useful if you buy a 16 GB or 32 GB device, which, depending on how you are, you can fill it in a short time.
Thus, you can save the internal memory for the applications that you like the most and use the MicroSD card for extra storage.
But remember, do not leave the photos on the card because what it is about is to transfer them at some point to the computer. If you need more information, you can also take a look at our guide on the use of MicroSD cards on Android devices.
But what if your Android device lacks MicroSD support? In that case, the Leef Access MicroSD reader is awesome for transferring photos between devices while expanding your phone’s storage space. It connects to the Micro USB port on the phone, while the other end works as a MicroSD card reader with a secondary storage slot.
Once the card is inserted, you can use most file management applications to copy photos (or any file) onto the card.
If you use a high-speed MicroSD card, the phone transfer process is relatively quick. We also recommend the Lexar C1 MicroSD reader, as well as using a USB On-the-Go. Also, you can read more about this in the section of this article on External Storage.
And like Google Drive, another option is the popular Dropbox app for Android, a free utility that automatically syncs your files and photos with a cloud server, so you can easily access them anywhere.
Once you have downloaded the application, you will have to log in or create an account if you don’t have one yet. Either in the settings or at the top of the photos and media tab, select “Enable camera loading” to access the settings that govern that photos are automatically copied and if you want backups to be made in cellular or wifi data.
Microsoft One Drive is another similar option that you should also consider.
A group of former Microsoft engineers, who are also photography enthusiasts, came together and created Mylio . This service allows mobile users to back up photos, up to 500,000, for free.
Mylio syncs up to 12 Android and iOS devices and offers on-device photo editing, along with the ability to work with JPEG, TIFF, PNG, and RAW files.
The concept behind Mylio is similar to that of Google Photos, but while the latter is aimed at casual photographers, the former seems to lean towards the more enthusiastic. Google Photos offers more everyday functions, but if you work with high quality files, Mylio is a great complement to Google Photos.
It is not the most elegant solution, but if you only need to transfer one or two images and sporadically, then you can easily use your email account.
Depending on your email provider, the process may vary, but it is a simple process, regardless of the application you use. Write a new message and enter your address as recipient.
Afterwards, a menu will open and then you will have to select “Attach file” to add an image to your email, or if you are in Gmail, you can upload a photo directly from that menu. Send the email and, a few minutes later, you will see it in your inbox and you can open it from another phone or computer.
Consider that if you send a very large file, some email services have a limit related to the sizes you can send.
You can also share a photo using other services, such as Facebook, Google Drive, Instagram and Twitter, for example. Select the image, press the “Share” button and the application you want to use to send the image. Depending on which one you choose, the photo will be emailed, posted, or uploaded.
As connectivity on smartphones increases, so do your options for connecting to different storage methods.
A positive aspect of the Android system is its compatibility with external storage. Therefore, you can connect an external USB hard drive, like the one you would use with a laptop or desktop computer, to download photos and videos.
However, you will need a USB OTG -to-Micro USB adapter. In addition, you should bear in mind that not all Android devices support USB OTG, so we recommend using the Easy OTG Checker application to confirm if yours does.
If your phone doesn’t support USB OTG, another handy option is a portable flash drive designed to connect directly to a phone via the Micro USB or Type-C USB port. These products include the SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive m3.0 drive. or the USB Type-C Ultra flash drive.
And if you have a lot of photos, the Western Digital My Passport Wireless SSD device offers tons of storage, wireless connectivity and portability. With a Wi-Fi connection, you can connect your Android device to the unit (through the WD My Cloud app) and easily copy your photos. There’s also a built-in SD card slot, allowing you to back up photos from your digital camera without a computer.