Everyone knows backing up your photos is the smart thing to do. But it’s also one of those things that tends to languish at the very bottom of our to-do lists, because although it will matter a hell of a lot if something bad happens, in the short term it sounds like a lot of effort for something we might never need.
Well, it turns out there’s a looming deadline on backing up your photos. But the good news is, you’ve waited long enough that there are super-easy automated ways to do it that require almost no effort at all — including that giant repository of priceless pics you’ve uploaded to Facebook.
Why the deadline?
A while back, Google announced that Google Photos – hands-down the best way to back up, in my opinion – won’t offer free unlimited storage anymore from June 2021.
Yes, losing the free option sucks, but at least there’s still time to get your photos uploaded to Photos. As long as you upload them in High Quality (*not* Original Quality – promise you won’t notice the difference, but only High Quality uploads are free), anything you upload before June can safely live in the cloud in case your laptop or phone go kaput and take your photos with them.
Why use Google Photos?
Well, it’s free (and it’ll still be free after June, it just won’t be unlimited anymore. So once you go past whatever storage capacity they offer, you’ll be asked to pay. But none of the stuff you upload before Tuesday will count, hence why I’m telling you to get on it).
It’s also really, really good. It has a web app and a phone app, and they sync to each other, plus you can install the app on any other phones/devices you have (including Apple ones) and it’ll automatically add those photos to your account too.
But best of all, it has the best text search I’ve seen on a photo storage product, and that will save you SO MUCH TIME. Using Google’s vast AI, you can search in Photos for stuff like “cat and tree” and it will near-instantly search every picture you’ve ever taken to return photos matching that description. Some other services offer this too, but Google’s works best, in my opinion.
The more obvious options are there too: like photos from a particular date, place, or of a particular type (eg. “selfie”, “screenshot”).
Also, you can add names of people or pets, and then it’ll automatically tag those people from then on, meaning you can look for all photos of your aunty Susan in one click, or immediately find all the pictures of Fido and Felix together.
Google Photos is – somewhat creepily – better at telling my twin nieces apart than I am. And it’s tagged them in my photos all the way back to when they were newborns, just based on me tagging some more recent pics.
Photos has other features too, like the ability to make physical photo books, lightly edit photos and videos, and make gifs. Those are a bonus, but the text search is really the main reason to use Photos.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched someone scroll endlessly through their photo roll looking for a particular snap, when they could just do a quick text search. Madness.
Why back up your Facebook photos?
A lot of us don’t feel like we need to back our pictures up if they’re on Facebook. But Facebook isn’t infallible, and you also might want to leave it one day without manually downloading and re-uploading all the photos.
Also, remember that awesome text search I mentioned? You’ll be able to use that on all the pics you’ve ever uploaded to FB, and it is a GAME-CHANGER.
Playing one of those daft “X year glow up” games on Instagram? Search for pictures from a random year and instantly find them all. Making an embarrassing birthday card for your friend? Type their name and find all the pics from your uni days. Want to look at all those photos of fireworks you’ve taken? Hahahaha no you don’t. No one ever looks at photos of fireworks.
How to automatically upload your Facebook pics to Google Photos
It’s now ridiculously easy to transfer your FB pics to Google Photos, once you’ve got Photos set up (do that first).
Either on web or on the mobile app, go to the menu on the top right and choose Settings & Privacy, then Settings. Scroll down to Your Facebook Information, then choose Transfer A Copy Of Your Information. From there, choose Google Photos, and follow the instructions.
It’ll take a while, but it all happens automatically, you don’t have to do anything.
Eventually, your photos will just appear in Photos. Annoyingly, the albums have crappy names – I now have a million albums beginning with C – but that’s easily changed and it’s WELL worth doing.
If you want to transfer videos as well, you’ll need to do that separately, following the same steps above.
Were you waiting for a sign to get around to backing up your photos? Well, here it is. Get on it.