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How to Not Lose All the Photos and Videos on Your Android Phone

A few weeks ago something unexpected happened: the SD card in my wife’s Android phone completely died, and she lost two month’s worth of photos and videos. Here’s how you can keep this from happening to you. (If your SD card doesn’t die, your phone could still get stolen, lost, or damaged.)


Solution 1: Google Photos

Google Photos is the default photo backup and synchronization solution for most Android phones. If your phone doesn’t come with Google Photos pre-installed, you can download it from Google Play. The good thing about Google Photos is that it’s free and it allows you to back up 15 GB of photos and videos at their original quality and resolution to Google’s cloud storage. The bad thing about Google Photos is that it’s easy to go over 15 GB if you take lots of videos. (Note that Google Photos allows you to store an unlimited number of photos and videos at lower quality, but this is not a good backup solution.)


There are two ways you can get around the 15 GB storage limit:

You can switch to a new Google account every time you exceed the 15 GB limit. This works as a backup solution, but is not a good solution for sharing all your photos and videos across multiple devices.You can pay Google a monthly fee, but there are cheaper options available elsewhere (see below).


Solution 2: Amazon Photos

If you have an Amazon Prime account, you can back up an unlimited number of photos from your phone, but only 5 GB of video. If you take a lot of videos, you can get unlimited photo and video storage for only $60 a year with their Unlimited Everything plan. You’ll also need to install the Amazon Photo app on your Android phone.


Solution 3: Pogoplug

If you want to store your photos and videos at home, and not in somebody else’s cloud, you can buy a Pogoplug device for $9.49 at Amazon.com. Once you have the Pogoplug, you just need to add storage to it, activate the device, and install the Android app.


Solution 4: OwnCloud (Advanced)

If you have a Linux computer that is always on, you can download and install the ownCloud Server on it. If not, you can try one of the support providers. Once you have your ownCloud server ready (either at home or at a provider), you just need to install the official ownCloud app on your phone (it costs $0.99). If $0.99 is too expensive, you can also try the free apps ocloud for owncloud and Cirrus for owncloud.


Summary and Recommendations

Having tested all these solutions, I recommend starting with Google Photos, but make sure you set the “Upload Size” to “Original” not “High quality”. If you exceed 15 GB, and you can afford $60 a year, then switch to Amazon’s Unlimited Everything plan.


Pogoplug and ownCloud, on the other hand, are fine for file backups, but they were not really designed for photo and video sharing. Consequently, the Pogoplug and ownCloud Android apps, and web interfaces, are not as easy to use as Google Photos or Amazon Photos. So I recommend using Pogoplug and ownCloud only as secondary backups.

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