Confused about iphone photos backup
September 23, 2014 8:15 AM   Subscribe

What is the correct way to make sure all of my photos are saved to my computer when I sync my iphone? I am on a PC, and I don't have iphoto. Are they being saved when I sync? Not sure about this. There is not nearly enough space in my icloud account for them all, so I have that turned off for photos for now. When I go to the photos tab in itunes, it allows me to sync additional photo folders on my computer but it says nothing about my iphone photos being saved to the computer with each sync.

In the meantime I am using dropbox to upload photos but I can't get that to work automatically without me remembering to open the app each time and it is very slow.
Can someone clarify all of this for me? I already plug my phone into itunes each week to sync music, so can't my iphone photos be just synced automatically too? (Without using a separate program or purchasing additional cloud space.)
Also, I have just updated to ios 8, and am using an iphone 5.
posted by photoexplorer to Technology (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I do not believe that iTunes backs up your photos when you select that particular option. If you are saving backups of your phone, I think that the photos should be part of those backups, but then they are not really going to be available in an externally accessible manner.

When you plug in your iPhone, it should actually appear to Windows as storage device that kind of looks like a camera. You can use any software you want to download the pictures from it. If you're using Windows, you could use something like Picasa to automatically grab the photos whenever you plug in the phone. I think that the Dropbox application in Windows has the same option to auto-download them as well, but it looks like you're having some issues with that.
posted by montag2k at 8:20 AM on September 23, 2014

I'll be interested in others' answers because I don't actually KNOW. I manually back my photos up to my PC by just copying them from folder to folder when I'm plugged in. I also paid the extra to the cloud so I could not worry. I also use Dropbox and that syncs whenever I have wifi enabled on my phone. But what the real answer is, I dunno.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:22 AM on September 23, 2014

Best answer: If you back-up to this computer via iTunes. You will have a full back-up of the iPhone / iPad but you cant access the files without special software to hack the back-up.

To download the pictures from your iOS device you need to think of the device as a camera. So use whatever program you like on a PC and set it to automatically download the pictures when this "camera" is connected to this PC.

If you have Dropbox you can give it permission in iOS to access your camera roll and store the pictures. This way you will have a cloud based storage that is synchronized between your iPhone and DropBox.

Install the dropbox program on your PC and you will have the folder with the images available on your PC.
posted by Mac-Expert at 8:28 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use a piece of software called photoSync ( which runs on the iphone and talks to a helper app on my desktop map. There's a windows version too.

You can use it manually to sync all your new photos to any number of locations, but the thing I have turned on is Auto-transfer. You set it up with a destination for the pictures and a physical location. When you get to that location it automatically uploads all the new pictures.

So whenever I come home it waits to get a wifi connection and then barfs up all the new photos to the folder on my mac. Since I keep all my SLR-taken and other photos in Lightroom this means i can just periodically import new stuff in that folder, but you can do it however you like. Maybe you never look at it unless there's an emergency and they're just backups. Whatever.

I've been really happy with it. The worst thing I can say about it is that if I have taken a lot of photos/video since the last sync it sometimes throws up a message that it's run out of background processing time and I need to open it to finish. (The iOS devices have a limit to how long apps can actively run in the background) Since it gives me an actual warning I don't find this all that big an imposition.

I find this way more painless than using things like the photo sync tools on windows or mac, which require physically plugging in.
posted by phearlez at 9:21 AM on September 23, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, sounds like I have been doing it right, then. It's just weird to me that itunes doesn't make it more clear that my photos are being saved and have a folder where I can see them all. Maybe they just want to push iphoto.
Come to think of it, they must have been syncing all along because when I got my new phone, all of the old photos were transferred to it. This is why I have so many photos because its like 6 years of photos and videos all together in the camera roll. I hate deleting photos just to make them all fit, so next time I buy a phone I will probably just get more storage.
I think I will just keep using dropbox. I just have to figure out why it no longer syncs automatically when I plug in my phone. I have the iphone app too but it is super slow to upload for some reason, especially if I come home with 50 new photos.
posted by photoexplorer at 10:42 AM on September 23, 2014

If the photos are still in the camera roll, then they're not being transferred to your computer in a place that you can easily see them, or sync them back to your iPhone using iTunes. They are being backed up as a part of the local backup in iTunes, or your iCloud backup. When you changed iPhones, you likely migrated everything by restoring the backup of the old device, which contains the camera roll -- that is the normal way to change over to a new device too :)

Depending on your preference, you can add photos to Dropbox as you take them, and/or you can more deliberately copy your photos to your computer in a folder of your choosing. Here's Apple's official description of how to import photos. If you choose to copy the photos off of your camera roll and onto your computer, then you can sync those photos back onto the iPhone using iTunes. They'll no longer be a part of the backup though, since they are now synced photo album photos instead of camera roll data.
posted by deciphermedia at 9:17 PM on February 12, 2015

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