iOS 7 iPhone 5 Camera Roll Photos

I have a friend who recently nearly lost all of his photos of his daughter. He had his iPhone for just about two years. He took tons of pictures of her. She wasn’t even two years old yet, so basically her whole life was on his iPhone. One day, his phone crashed and he couldn’t figure out what happened to it. His pictures were lost.

He was eventually able to recover his photos, but not without hours of work and days of anxiety. When I asked him why he didn’t just back his photos up, he had no good response. Always back up your photos. Seriously. Always back up your photos! We’ve got a tutorial on a few different ways you can back up your photos so you’ll never have to face the dreaded lost memories again…

Apple stores your photos in iCloud. This makes it possible for you to save a lot of photos, but you should find another way to back them up or you will lose the ones that don’t fit into the 5GB of free iCloud storage that you get.

How to back up your photos to your desktop

If you use a Mac, my best suggestion is to use the free Photos app that come with OS X for your desktop or laptop. Photos is a replacement to iPhoto, which is not supported by Apple anymore. If you consider yourself a pretty good amateur photographer, you will find Lightroom to be a well-rounded feature-heavy photo application for your Mac. However, if you just like snapping pics at the beach, Photos is simple and effective for storing images. Plus, all of the My Photo Stream pictures that you take on your iPhone will automatically go directly into Photos, so you don’t have to upload them to anything. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to back your photos up though.

When you connect your iPhone to a computer running Photos or Lightroom, go to the Import tab to automatically upload your pictures into one of the programs, not in My Photo Stream, but in the application itself. Now, your images are officially saved to your computer and you can delete them.

Tip: click the button that reads, “Delete items” in Photos to delete photos from your iPhone after importing them, if you want to make room on your iPhone for more photos.

Learn more about this method: How to transfer photos from iPhone or iPad to Mac

How to backup your photos to iCloud Photo Library

Apple offers a paid service that lets you automatically backup your photos from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac to iCloud. This is probably the best option to back up your photos without any user interaction, but of course it is not free. Plans start at $0.99/month for 50GB of storage, and go up to $19.99/month for 2TB of storage.

Before activating iCloud Photo Library, it would be wise to upgrade your iCloud storage by going to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Buy More Storage. Start with the 50GB plan and see if you need more. Most people should be fine with this $0.99/month plan.

Once this is done, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos. Turn on iCloud Photo Library. Then select the Optimize iPhone Storage option to make more room on your iPhone. Repeat the process on all your iOS devices, such as your iPad and iPod touch.

enable iCloud Photo Library

From now, any photo or video you take from any iOS device on which you activated iCloud Photo Library will be automatically uploaded to iCloud, without having you to do anything. This is a great way to backup your photos without having to think about it.

How to back up your photos in the cloud

Automatically back up your photos to Dropbox from your desktop

If you own a Dropbox account, you can also automatically store your photos in their cloud. If you connect your iPhone to a computer with Dropbox installed, you can turn on Camera Upload and photos and videos will automatically download to Dropbox.

To do so, go to Dropbox > Settings > Preferences > Import, and check the “Enable camera uploads.” You can then choose to import both photos and videos, or photos only. Doing so will automatically import your photos to Dropbox when your iPhone is connected.

Dropbox enable camera backup photo upload

However, keep in mind that Dropbox has a limited amount of free storage available. When you run out, you have to pay for an upgrade. You get 2 GB of storage with a free account. If you don’t have an account yet, click this link to create one. You’ll get a free additional 500MB of storage space.

Automatically back up your photos to Dropbox from your iPhone

Dropbox can also automatically upload images that you take with your iPhone. You’ll of course need to download the Dropbox app first and create an account if you don’t already have one.

When you first launch the Dropbox app, it will offer to save your photos to Dropbox, as seen on the screenshot below.

dropbox iPhone camera photo backup

If you didn’t enable this feature at launch but want to do it now, follow the following steps:

Step 1: In the Dropbox app, go to Settings > Camera Upload > On.

Step 2: Select whether you want Dropbox to only upload pictures while on Wi-Fi (recommended) or while or Wi-Fi+cellular (not recommended if you have a capped data plan).

Step 3: Tap “Enable.” Dropbox will ask permission to access your photos. Say OK. The app will then start uploading all your photos.

Note that Dropbox also allows you to manually upload selected photos rather than upload all of them at once.

Back up your photos to Flickr from your iPhone

back up photos to flickr from iphone

Another cloud storage service that lets you upload images right from your iPhone is Flickr. Flickr offers 1TB of free space, so it is the best cloud storage service for the price around. Uploading photos from your iPhone to Flickr is pretty easy.

You’ll need to download the Flickr app. Then launch the app, which should ask you if you want to activate the Auto-Uploadr. Turn it on if you want Flickr to automatically backup all your photos, or leave it off if you want to manually chose what photos are sent to Flickr. You can also control this feature from inside the Flickr app, by going to Settings > Auto-Uploadr.

If you want to manually choose what photos and videos are backed up to Flickr, tap the camera icon at the bottom center of the screen. Then, select the images you want to upload. You can select multiple photos for simultaneous uploading. It can take a while, so you should do this often if Flickr is going to be your method of backing up.

You can add filters right in the app before you send them to Flickr. After you’ve added a group name, description, and location, then tap the upload button and they will be added to your Flickr Photo Stream.

Note: all photos uploaded to Flickr are automatically set to private, which means no one but you will be able to see them. You can change this privacy setting at any time from within the app.

Also read: Best ways to store photos in the cloud

Now you have learned about different ways that you can back up your iPhone and iPad photos. Don’t be like my friend and think you are immune to the possibility of losing everything.

How do you back up your photos?

  • Shai

    Or you can just do an iTunes backup.

    • Yes, but the big problem with this is that there is no easy way to access individual pictures without restoring using the backup made.

      For example, say you make a backup via iTunes, then delete all your photos from your iPhone, how will you be able to email me one of those pics? You won’t be able to.

      Backing them up locally (via iPhone/Aperture) or on one of the services we mentioned ensures you can always get access to your photos in a matter of seconds, assuming you have an internet connection of course

      • Amad

        Thats a big problem someone should tell apple

      • ReanimationXP


      • Tjibbe de Haan

        It is possible to extract photos from a backup, i have used iBackupExtractor before and it worked great. But i agree, a simple backup in DropBox or iPhoto is much easier.

      • deepdvd

        Hasn’t anyone on iDB heard of iTools? It’s so easy to access your backups and do a lot of amazing things that iTunes won’t. I particularly like the app versioning it does. It will tell you what iOS version apps are compatible with. itools [dot] hk/en_index.htm

      • Southern Gal

        Check out the comments on CNET for iTools. LOTS of people found adware and spyware installed.

        no thanks.

      • deepdvd

        Suit yourself. Do you believe everything you read on the Internet? It doesn’t have any of that

      • Guest

        If you have iTunes set up to search for new photos to save, you can go into the settings for that to see where they are being saved to. Or change the save location to wherever you want.

      • cjeffery2

        That is to say, if you have it set up to use Windows to look for photos when iTunes starts to backup the iPhone. I mistyped the first time.

      • cjeffery2

        If you have iTunes set up to search for new photos to save, you can go into the settings for that when it pops up to see where they are being saved to. Or change the save location to wherever you want.

  • Jeff Ramirez

    I don’t know how many of you guys know this, but Loom is an excellent app for this. iDB should review this app. I’d choose Loom over any of the above choices any day! The only downside is there’s a long wait list, but it’s worth it to at least check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

    • Héctor Viveros

      Let mee google it, sounds nice.

      • Jeff Ramirez

        It is! It has a really nice interface and the best part off all? It’s universal on any iOS, Mac, or web. (Don’t know if they have an android app though). To top it off, they give you 5GB for free. It’s a freemium.

      • Greg B

        sounds pretty nice, but 5GB? I’d go through that after one sync with my iphone haha

      • Jeff Ramirez

        I hear ya. Their pricing isn’t too bad though. 50GB for $4 a month or 250GB for $10

      • dpacemaker

        AT&T Locker App gives 5gb free then sign up for premium which is 50gb. Last I knew the promotion was still going where the 50gb is free forever. You don’t have to be a AT&T customer either.

    • burlow

      what about google+? they give you unlimited backup of pictures + video

      • Jeff Ramirez

        Believe me, I’ve used google+ for pics and it isn’t as organized as Loom. Google+ is still more of a social site, whereas Loom, their main focus is to provide a high quality user experience aimed at picture and videos (video uploads in near future). Loom should pay me as sponsor lol.

      • burlow

        ah yes – I meant solely as a back up solution. for straight back up and nothing else, I don’t think it gets any simpler than g+

  • George Nowacek

    My problem is deleting photos from the phone and icloud and iphoto on the phone. Any tips on this?

    • Juan Flores

      Easy. Not sure how on a Mac but on windows just plug in your phone and open up My Computer and usually there will be a photo share icon with the sunflower on it. Just click on it and delete all the pictures from there to free up space. To remove from iCloud just unsync your photos from iCloud. Go to settings, iCloud and turn off the photo option. If you also have photo stream then go to settings, photos and videos then turn off photo stream. DONE.

    • T_Will

      On Mac, I think the Image Capture app is what you’re looking for.

      • D.

        +1 for Image Capture. I use that app to import all my photos from iPhone to a designated folder. Does the job perfectly.

      • Agreed. It’s so simple and quick and you can choose what you want to keep, what you want to delete and where you want photos to go.

  • Greg B

    i usually just connect my iphone, open my computer (in windows) and transfer all the files listed in each of the randomly named folders on the iphone to a folder on my pc. then i have my computer just backup like it regularly does. it also removes them from my iphone so i have more room for the ungodly amount of photos i take on a regular basis.

    • Μικε

      By far the easiest and safest solution. Not sure it removes them from your phone, though, but you can do that manually.

  • Flint Bearden

    There is another option (one that I use and find to be a great solution) and thats western digitals personal could storage drives. I upload all my photos from my phone directly to the device from my phone and have access to them 24/7.

  • Edward Pacheco

    How about the other way around. How to import photos from computer into iPhone? How can I copy a couple of photos back to the camera roll?

    • ConduciveMammal

      You can’t, at least not with a computer. What you need to do is save it somewhere on the web: Dropbox, FB etc and then view and save them on the phone.

      • leart

        fu**ing Dropbox needs ios7, so my ipod 4g is out even on 6.1.2

      • ConduciveMammal

        You should still be able to download a previous version, as per Apple’s newest upgrade to the App Store

      • leart

        no, i cant, it should, but it don’t give the option to download a previous version, just say you need to upgrade, i tried to install a cracked old version just to push the app to give me the latest working version, but nothing, in the past this worked 🙂

      • DeBragg

        You can transfer pictures from PC to iPhone with iTools or you use Wondershare MobileGo for iOS. Very efficient

      • Sharon

        Click on which ever of the sunflowers is your picture and it will bring up your image. keep in mind this is just a guess. But when I see an image I want, be it a picture or some quote/phrase, I hold my finger on the image and options come up from the bottom, one being save this image to camera roll (something like that). Tap on that and it goes to camera roll. In this case may or may not work. I’m just one to try everything!!

    • James Bailey

      You can use iTunes to add pics to your phone.

    • deepdvd

      Just create a folder on your computer that you sync in iTunes to your iPhone. Just put (or copy) any photos you want in there.

    • Ann Mehrman

      If you are on a Mac and use iPhoto, just create a new “album” (a folder) in iPhoto–give it a name (like Ed’s iPhone pix) and put the photos you want to have on your iPhone into this folder. In iTunes, under the “photos” section, click the “sync photos from” preference button for “Selected albums, Events, etc. In the column that shows all the albums, choose the album you just created (Ed’s iPhone pix) and check the box and hit the “sync” button. Now this special album will appear under the photo albums section of your iPhone and you can just have the specially selected photos you want.

      • Trina30064

        Thank you Ann for good how-to instructions! Been told you couldn’t put back any photos that you removed from the iPhone and I just knew better!!

  • veda99

    Have google+ with auto-backup on! It does the trick for me!

  • Om

    Hey guys. I was just wondering if there’s any app that back up my photos while my phone is charging, in a similar way to what iCloud does? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Guest

    I like copy they give 15 gb and a extra 5 gb here’s the link for an extra 5 gb you need to register and download the app.

  • Hermès Vainstar Chu

    Copy is also another really good one, it works like drop box but better, you get 5gb per person you refer

  • Bob

    Thanks. I once had to restore my iPod and had saved my photos the day before.

  • ConduciveMammal

    The thing that annoys me about using iCloud to backup my pictures is that I can’t delete them from my phone afterwards to start afresh without them being removed from iCloud as well

    • Cynthia

      This is my issue as well, How do we fix this?

  • dpacemaker

    Another one that I use is the AT&T Locker App. You don’t have to be a AT&T customer and I think they are still giving 50gb for free. You sign up and get 5gb free, then go into the settings and choose upgrade and the 50gb option is free. I use it along with Flickr, Skydrive, and Dropbox. Can never have too many backups. The interface is clunky and uploads fail sometimes when your uploading a few hundred photos, but 50gb for free, it’s worth it.

  • diggitydang

    Do Flickr and Dropbox do video syncing as well? I use software called iPhone Explorer (it’s free) and back up manually each month. It can be a chore to hook up to my Mac to do but I just keep a hard drive of all my pics that way… No messing with exceeding storage, paying fees and I can backup my videos all at the same time too.

    • dpacemaker

      Dropbox does allow videos to be backed up, but Flickr is photos only. I use AT&T Locker. It’s free 5gb, but they have a promotion where you go into the settings and choose premium and get 50gb for free. You don’t have to be a AT&T customer either.

  • Al

    I’ve heard good things about everpix. Anyone using this app/service.

    • Mike Moses

      I have been using it for about a week. It’s really nice. You can add pic’s from everywhere and it takes care of dups also.

      • Al

        Thanks Mike I’ll give it a try.

  • Adam Bowman

    Picasa! Along with the app Web Albums — that’s the way I’ve been backing up my photos (and videos) to the cloud for years. That’s the way to go. Check it out.

  • sam445

    Dropbox is best for me

  • Johannes Mertens

    As a Student in Germany you get 25GB for free on Dropbox. They started a contest called “Space Race”: The more students from each university registered the more space everyone got 🙂 Great Service for me.

  • O Al Marar

    I just connect my iphone to my desktop PC then i open My Computer>then you can see your iphone connected as camera>(your PC thought your iphone is camera not phone)>> open it and you will see all your photo and copy what you want to copy or select all and copy it to your computer…
    this is the easiest way to backup your photo and no need for any apps

    IDB pleeeeease try this way and do review to show it for all..

    • Trina30064

      I had been doing just this but now when I download, it opens with 32 different numbered folders with no indication as to what dates, photos, etc. are in them. Apple couldn’t even explain this or give me a work around. I loved this way to download my photos until it started doing this!! Anybody else having this happen? And know how to ‘fix’

  • D.

    I use Image Capture to transfer photos and videos from my iPhone to Mac. Sure, it’s not in the cloud, but it’s a free option. Photo Sync is also a great app to transfer files over wifi from iPhone to Mac/PC

  • Khalid Tahhan

    I am surprised no one has heard of Bitcasa…. Unlimited storage in the cloud and the ios app can auto upload your camera roll. I am uploading everything to it from the external hardrives. $10 per month ot $100 per year. Cheaper than buying hardrives and backing up everything locally.

  • Razick Rilshad

    Sky drive is also good one

  • burlow

    I use google+ to back up all pictures and video taken on the phone. opening the app automatically starts the back up process, and will run in the background when you close the app (up to 10 min). You can choose wifi or wifi+cell depending on the media type (pic/video) and the best part is that it’s free and unlimited for everything, including videos less than 15 min long. For videos longer than this, you have to buy storage from google.

  • Shane Sepeda

    I use Picasa/Google+. It’s basically free and unlimited storage for photos and videos.

  • Matthew

    iCloud? Edit: Oops I didn’t see the thing at the top.

  • Correct, but Photo Stream only keeps up to 1,000 pictures for up to 30 days. So that means that in 30 days, all these pictures will be gone from your Photo Stream and will be replaced by the one you took in the last 29.9 days.

  • Anastasia Maier

    I back up all my photos on Shutterfly app. Unlimited free storage and can always access photos and save to camera roll if need be. Both the iPhone and iPad version have a simple UI as well. App also reminds you which photos need to be uploaded.

  • CrystalR

    HELP! So I was recording a video on my ipad on the ” video zoom ” app … And when I finished recording I played the video but I was thinking it went in my camera roll thinking it was there but it wasn’t till I notice that I didn’t turn on my privacy for the app ..? Is there anyway I can get the video back ?!???

  • Patrick

    the reason i want to back up is because my photos use 2.3gb space, i thought flickr stores my photos in the cloud but it turns out it stores photos on my phone memory the whole whole app is 2.4gb so it’s pointless flickr should say that on their website apart from dropbox know any app that don’t store anything on your phone???

  • nadia

    i need help i havent backed up my iphone and ipad since 6 months and i deleted a video at that time is it forever gone????

  • john

    can i retrieve

  • john

    can i retrieve deleted photos using itunes wifi sync without backup

  • Cindy

    How Did he eventually end up recovering the pictures because that happened to me????

    • Emily Anderson

      This happened to me too. Did you ever find a solution?

  • Guest

    I have downloaded all my photos to my computer through iTunes, but I frequently like to go through the pics on my iPhone or iPad and have the photos available to me as attachments in Facebook or message or email. Once I sent them to the PC, they were lost to me for that purpose. Then why bother to keep memes or snapshots of pretty scenes or whatever if I’m not going to reuse them when a situation calls for it? That sucks. Any solutions?

  • Michelle

    I have downloaded all my photos to my computer through iTunes, but I frequently like to go through the pics on my iPhone or iPad and have the photos available to me as attachments in Facebook or message or email. Once I sent them to the PC, they were lost to me for that purpose. Then why bother to keep memes or snapshots of pretty scenes or whatever if I’m not going to reuse them when a situation calls for it? That sucks. Any solutions?

  • Both the Google+ app and the Facebook app will auto-backup your photos while you sleep. Both offer unlimited storage, but my understanding is that Facebook compresses the photos somewhat. Microsoft’s OneDrive also offers auto-backup (meaning that you don’t have to choose or select specific photos), but the app has to stay open for a while or it will not keep backing them up. Combine those with iCloud and you have a pretty solid backup plan that doesn’t require a laptop/desktop computer to sync too. Both G+ and Facebook put your synced photos into a private folder on your account so they are easily shareable from there if you want them to be.

  • Michael

    Hello – Can I backup my photos from iphone without using wifi? I will be in Egypt for over 20 days and needless to say I’ll be taking tons of photos, but I heard that internet there is spotty at best – is there a sidedrive or other sort of memory card that works with the phone? Thanks

  • Emily Anderson

    The same thing that happened to your friend just happened to me. I have never even heard of backing up your pictures anywhere and I have just lost all my pictures from the last 7 months, which includes a lot of memories and pictures that were very important to me. What should I do to recover these pictures? I was really happy to read that somebody who had the same problem and was somehow able to fix it.

    • Anna Catherine Solomonik

      Same thing happened to me but my phone didn’t back up overnight like it was supposed to and I really need my pictures back!

  • PicBackMan

    I find iTune backup a little tricky as compared to backing up photos onto Dropbox or Flickr. It lot more easy and simple.

  • PicBackMan

    ITunes backup is has always been so confusing. I can’t really see where are my photos backed up, is there a way to find out?

  • conradsassor

    horrible article . 4 “ways” ? there are only TWO. Local and cloud. There are many apps and network services including the ones mentioned here but they are not “ways” to back up. Very miusleading and a waste

  • Mercy

    I don’t think backup solutions are the way forward – as one day you’ll have so many photos and HD videos that the phone cannot store them all. And no one likes periodically moving photos off. What’s needed is some type of facilty to backup and automatically archive off photos to a home PC or cloud so that you don’t have to worry about backup/loosing the phone, or constantly clearing down stuff to make room (HELL iPhone 6’s have 16GB as an option I’ll never understand).

  • Use Google Photos! It’s been announced at Google I/O that the backup service will be completely free meaning there are no storage or photo count limitation in the service.

  • PicBackMan

    PicBackMan Mac and iOS app allows multiple backup to keep your memories safe on mutiple cloud storage and devices.

  • Sharon

    I’ve always liked to look at my pictures on my computer or I did until they’ve all been covered up with those crappy sunflowers!! The ONLY place I don’t see them is if I’ve clicked to edit the picture. It’s a hit and miss until I find the picture, group of pictures I’m looking for. Have no idea their purpose in doing that, I know it can be very aggravating for me!! I don’t suppose there’s any way to get around that! I so hate when whoever changes up what ain’t broke!!!!! I know I’m technology challenged but I don’t think those pictures should be in there more than once. And I go to “Downloads” and I have no idea what 95% of the stuff in there is!! I sure didn’t download it, especially not 7-8 times!!! On the left it shows folders I have no clue what they are, some are even empty. In “Documents” I only know what part of what is there is about. I’ve never been close to using all my space now I’m getting pop-ups telling me I’m about to run out of space. Me thinks the computer is overrun with bugs!!! And yes, it’s my fault, regrettably. In the recent past it’s been all I could do to keep my head above water and an antivirus I just couldn’t swing. It’s just been me and my iPhone. Before you holler at this poor, ‘ol single, retired, widder woman, things are looking up. Computer repair in the near future!!!

  • Christine

    When I do a backup from my Iphone 6 to my laptop (Windows 7) it asks me if I want to use JXR, I don’t know exactly what that is and if I should? I would appreciate any help.

  • Choddo

    Is that iCloud Photo Library method going to work? Doesn’t that sync with the device so when you later delete them, they vanish from iCloud too?