With the volume of photos that we take every day/week/month/year, two problems arise for most of the smartphone-carrying population.

  • Your digital photos aren’t safely backed up (and you’d be pretty devastated to lose them in a tech mishap).
  • Your digital photos are mostly lumped into a giant pile of “I’ll sort these, one day”. It’s the modern-day version of piling photos into a shoebox.

Remember the days of taking photos, developing film, and making photo albums?

Given that each of us now carries in our pockets these amazing devices that can capture moments via digital photos and videos… all day, every day… it’s hard to remember that we used to spend time organizing our photos.

I’m going to come right out and say that there’s no good reason your phone’s digital photos aren’t properly backed up.

PART ONE: Let’s walk through exactly how to back up your phone’s digital photos – for free – using Dropbox.

1. Get a Dropbox Account and Install the app. 

  • If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, go sign up for their free version. Did I mention that it’s free? 2 GB of storage!
  • Install the Dropbox app on your computer.
  • Install the Dropbox app on your smartphone or tablet or both (wherever you’re taking your photos).
  • Here’s a handy list of system requirements for running Dropbox.

2. Turn on “Camera Uploads” on the Dropbox phone app.

Once your Dropbox account has nearly 2 GB used up, simply move the photos out of the Dropbox folder on your computer to another (secure!) location, in order to make room for your photos to continue syncing/uploading.

Note that unless you’re storing your photos in Dropbox or some other cloud-synced application, storing your photos just on your computer’s hard drive does not make them secure.

It’s as simple as that – Turn on Dropbox’s “Camera Uploads” – Have your phone’s digital photos and videos backed up to Dropbox and your computer.

PART TWO: Now that your phone’s digital photos are backed up into your Dropbox account, and are stored on your computer… what’s the easiest way to organize them?

Organize Photos? Why would you do that?!

The answer is: no one wants to look for a needle in a haystack, spending hours going down the rabbit hole of reminiscing as you end up looking AT photos when you’re really looking FOR photos.

Many phones will name the files with the date, or you can sort by the date that the file was created. But searching for photos by date is not exactly the most helpful long-term solution! And, what about the 7 versions of that each photo that you’re prone to taking?

Unfortunately, there’s no single solution, but here are some options you can employ.

Pick the one that you are most likely to adhere to, because that’s the point! Knowing what to do is no good if you don’t actually do it!

1. EASIEST SOLUTION: Make folders + sort your photos into those folders.

Name those folders with the name of the event, location or person/people, and date (if applicable).

Photo folders can be used like you’d use a photo album – just plain groupings of photos, or as a way to sort categories of photos.

Folders can be:

  • Location name
  • Event name
  • Kid(s) name(s)
  • Pet(s) name(s)

Seems too easy, right? The reality is that you’re probably taking photos of the same people over and over. So make a bunch of folders and toss photos into the appropriate grouping.

Any consistent organizing is better than a giant pile of digital photos, right?

In this digital photo age, we often take multiple photos of the same thing, but no one needs to keep or use every photo they take! Here’s a simple solution to keeping them all, but isolating the best ones.

FOLDER BONUS: Make a “selections” folder. Make a second folder inside the first (call it “selections” if you like!) and pull out the best photos from the bunch. That is – pull out the photos that you’d upload to Facebook, email to your mother, or turn into a photo book.

2. MORE EFFORT: Name or Tag your photo files. 

Only the most organized of us take the time to do this, but it’s definitely the “next level” of file organization.

  • Use a naming convention to name your individual photo files, including keywords like location, date, event, names of people in the photos – any words that you would use in future to search for that particular photo.
  • If want to add tags, know that you can select multiple photos and add (the same) tag(s) to all the selected photos at once.

Both file names and tags will have the same effect with using keywords for search. Adding descriptors to your file names to make them a lot easier to find in future.


This option isn’t the most obvious, but hear me out…

  • You can create albums and organize your photos there.
  • You can choose privacy settings for your albums and photos so that others can’t see everything. So you literally could upload all your photos and set “only me” as the person able to see them. *Note that this “only me” privacy setting wouldn’t work if you were tagging people in the photos.

Note that I’m not advocating exclusively storing your digital photo files on Facebook. I’m saying that you still keep date-sorted backups of all the original photo files on your computer, but use Facebook as your photo search engine!

My best friend was recently was able to find an original photo file by the date it was taken. It was otherwise buried in years of her photos backups, but because we knew what date it had been taken by the date it was uploaded to Facebook, she was able to track it down. Unconventional as it may be, Facebook is a viable recommendation that deserved to be mentioned.

The bottom line is:

There’s no reason not to back up your smartphone’s digital photos.

You can get fancy with organzing, but do yourself a favour and protect your photos that you’d hate to lose.