A few years back we noted that the iPhone 4 was Flickr’s most popular camera, but as we’re writing this article the iPhone 5 has since claimed that crown, and the 5S is on track to claim top spot. With the popularity of the iPhone as portable camera, it’s important that you know how to backup your photos from your iPhone.

This guide is written based on iOS 7, Mac OS X 10.9.3 (Mavericks), and Windows 7, but it will work for older versions of OS X, along with Windows XP and Windows 8.

It’s important to understand where you’re planning to store your photo backups, but you’ll generally backup to at least one of the locations below:

  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Cloud service (e.g. iCloud, Dropbox, Google+, OneDrive etc)

There are pros and cons to each method, so do read on and hopefully by the time you’ve finished reading this guide, you’ll be able to decide which method is the most suitable one for you to backup your photos with.

Backup to Mac

If you’re backing up to your Mac, you have the option of using iPhoto if you have it installed, if not the built-in Image Capture application will do the trick. I prefer using the Image Capture application since it’s simpler, but if you’re managing all your photos in iPhoto, then you might want to import your photos into iPhoto instead.

Backup using Image Capture

image capture import web

  1. Launch Image Capture from your Applications folder.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac via USB cable.
  3. If you want the photos to be deleted from your iPhone after you’ve backed them up to your Mac, check the checkbox on the left bottom that says “Delete after import”.
  4. Choose where you want to save your photos to under “Import to”.
  5. If you want to backup all the photos from your iPhone, then select “Import All”. If you want to selectively backup specific photos, highlight the ones you want to backup and click “Import”.

Backup using iPhoto

iphoto backup web

  1. Launch iPhoto.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac via USB cable.
  3. Select your iPhone under the Devices tab on the left.
  4. Type in an (optional) event name.
  5. Uncheck the “Split Events” checkbox if you don’t want your photos to be split by date.
  6. If you want to selectively backup specific photos, highlight the photos you want to backup and click “Import Selected”. If you want to backup all the photos on your iPhone, click on the button that says “Import X Photos” where X is the number of photos on your iPhone.
  7. After your photos have been imported to your Mac, you’ll be prompted if you want to keep the photos on your iPhone. You can choose to remove the photos from your iPhone or not.

Backup to Windows

There are two ways to backup your photos to Windows, the first is using the Windows file explorer, the second is to use the built in photo importing tool. My preference is to use the Windows file explorer as it’s a more straightforward process.

Backup using the Windows file explorer

iPhone windows web

  1. Download and install iTunes on your PC.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your PC via USB cable.
  3. If you haven’t previously authorized your PC to access your iPhone’s data, iTunes will prompt you to allow your computer to access the data on your iPhone. Click “Continue” to allow it.
  4. Your iPhone will then prompt you if you trust the PC that it’s connected to. Tap on “Trust” on your iPhone.
  5. After that’s done, you’ll see your iPhone show up in your computer’s file explorer.
  6. Double click on your iPhone and browse for your photos, which is usually stored under a folder called DCIM.
  7. Copy (or cut if you want to remove the photos from your iPhone) the photos you want backed up.
  8. Paste it in your desired folder in your PC.

Backup using the built in photo importing tool

trust pc web

  1. Download and install iTunes on your PC.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your PC via USB cable.
  3. If you haven’t previously authorized your PC to access your iPhone’s data, iTunes will prompt you to allow your computer to access the data on your iPhone. Click “Continue” to allow it.
  4. Your iPhone will then prompt you if you trust the PC that it’s connected to. Tap on “Trust” on your iPhone.
  5. After that’s done, you’ll see your iPhone show up in your computer’s file explorer.
  6. Right click on your iPhone and select “Import pictures and videos”.
  7. In the new window that pops up, you can (optionally) click on “Import settings” to configure details like where you’d like to backup your photos to and whether to erase the photos from your iPhone after importing, amongst other settings.
  8. Click “Import” and your photos will be backed up to your PC.

Backup to cloud service

As cloud storage becomes increasingly cheap, you might want to consider backing up your photos to a cloud storage service instead. The methods below show you how to backup your photos directly from your iPhone to a cloud service.

There are certain benefits to backing up to a cloud storage service instead of your Mac or PC, which include:

  • Not having to connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC.
  • Your photos are safe even if your Mac or PC is stolen.
  • Depending on the backup service, it can automatically backup your photos without you having to remember to do it.
  • Depending on the backup service, you can access your photos from another device.

The downsides of backing up to a cloud storage include:

  • You’ll generally have less space than your Mac or PC. For example, Dropbox only gives you 2GB of space when you first sign up.
  • Since your photos will need to be uploaded to the backup service, backing up will be slower.

Backing up to iCloud

icloud backup web
Apple allows you to backup your photos to its iCloud service, and if you decide to do that, just make sure that it’s enabled by going to:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap on iCloud
  3. Tap on Storage & Backup
  4. Ensure that iCloud Backup is enabled.

It’s important to note that while backing up to iCloud is convenient since it’s integrated to your iPhone, the downside is that you aren’t able to restore individual photos from your iCloud backup.

With Apple’s latest announcement of iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Apple has made some significant improvements on how you can backup your photos to your Mac via the cloud. We’ll revisit that once both those systems have been released.

Backing up to Carousel by Dropbox

  1. Ensure you have a Dropbox account.
  2. Download and install Carousel by Dropbox.
  3. Sign in with your Dropbox account and let the app run.

Do take note that if you want your photos to be backed up properly, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got enough storage space on Dropbox to save those photos.

Backing up to Microsoft OneDrive

  1. Ensure you have a Microsoft account.
  2. Download and install OneDrive.
  3. Sign in with your Microsoft account, turn on Camera Backup when prompted and let the app run.

Do take note that if you want your photos to be backed up properly, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve got enough storage space on OneDrive to save those photos.

Backing up to Google+

  1. Ensure that you have a Google+ account.
  2. Download and install Google+.
  3. Sign in with your Google account and turn Auto-Backup on.

Google+ allows you to backup an unlimited number of standard size photos and videos for free, though if you’re backing up full sized photos (which is the default setting), it’ll depend on the amount of storage space that you have. While it does sound a little more complicated, Google is actually offering an additional option for you to not have to worry about photo storage space, as long as you don’t mind saving your photos in what Google terms as standard size. You can find out the full details of this here.

Important note when backing up using a cloud storage service

Whichever cloud storage solution you’re using, unless you have a very large data allowance, it’s best to make sure that you’re only backing up your photos using Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

Hopefully this guide will give you a better idea of the several options you have for backing up your iPhone photos. You might also want to check out Apple’s official guide on backing up your photos to a Mac or PC. If you have any questions, do feel free to let us know in the comments section.

Filed in Apple . Tags: apple, iOS and iPhone.
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