Fix: Google Photos not backing up on iPhone

Google Photos is still the number one option for many iPhone users, despite iCloud being a default service for storing photos. People simply find using Google Photos more convenient because of its better cross-platform compatibility, and because Google offers better storage deals than Apple.

But using Google Photos on iOS isn’t without its issues. One of the most common problems iPhone users have with the Google Photos app is when it won’t back up photos or videos to the cloud. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about in this article.

Table of contents:

  1. Make sure Backup & Sync is enabled
  2. Check the storage
  3. Check your internet connection
  4. Disable Low Power mode
  5. Update Google Photos
  6. Check the permissions
  7. Enable Background App Refresh
  8. Offload Google Photos

Solution 1: Make sure Backup & Sync is enabled

The very first action you should take is to make sure Google Photos’ Backup & Sync feature is enabled. If this option is disabled for whatever reason, Google Photos won’t back up any new photos or videos.

Here’s how to check if Backup & Sync is enabled:

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap your picture in the upper right corner, and go to Photos settings.
  3. Head over to Backup & sync.
  4. Make sure the Backup & sync option is enabled.

Solution 2: Check the storage

Google Photos won’t be able to back up new content if there’s no storage space left. And with the number of photos and videos an average person takes per day, you’re at the risk of running out of storage sooner rather than later.

To check how much storage space you’ve got left in your account, simply open Google Photos, and tap your picture in the upper right corner. The amount of used/free storage is displayed under Account storage.

Now, at the time of writing this article, there’s an option inside of Google Photos to store your photos in lower quality (it’s called High quality, tho, but it really is the inferior option), and if you do, those photos won’t count against your account storage quota. However, this will become irrelevant starting June 2021, as Google will start to count everything, regardless of the quality. On the other hand, storing photos and videos in High quality will take less storage space, so you’ll still have room for more media, compared to storing it in Original quality.

Google offers 15GB of free storage space out of the box. If you want to upgrade your storage plan, you can do so by subscribing to Google One.

Solution 3: Check your internet connection

To preserve data, Google Photos will only sync your photos and videos when you’re connected to a WiFi network. So, first make sure you’re properly connected to a WiFi network, and then try syncing your content again.

If you really want, you can also enable syncing over mobile data, but I don’t recommend it, since the whole process will obliterate an enormous amount of data from your plan. Especially if we take into account that a single photo can nowadays take up to 10MB. That’s 100MB of data just for 10 photos.

If you, however, still want to sync your photos and videos over the cellular network, here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open Google Photos.
  2. Tap your picture in the upper right corner, and go to Photos settings.
  3. Head over to Backup & sync.
  4. Toggle Use cellular data to back up photos and/or Use cellular data to back up videos on.

Solution 4: Disable Low Power Mode

The Low Power Mode is a feature exclusive to iOS that pauses all battery-consuming processes on your iPhone when the battery is low. As syncing to the cloud is a battery-consuming process, the Low Power Mode will pause it, too.

Your iPhone will disable the Low Power Mode as soon as you charge it to over 80%. However, if you don’t want to wait, you can disable the Low Power Mode manually. Just make sure your iPhone has enough power to stay on.

To disable Low Power Mode, go to Settings > Battery, and disable Low Power Mode.

You can also put Low Power Mode in the Control Center, and access the option with even less effort. Just head over to Settings > Control Centre, find Low Power Mode under More Controls, and add it to the list of Included Controls.

Solution 5: Update Google Photos

App updates are often tricky. Even though the core purpose of an update is to make an app better, it often happens that it makes things worse. Not on purpose, of course, but a bug may easily slip through developers’ fingers.

Google Photos is not an exception. If you suspect that a previous update disrupted the app and that it cannot back up photos and videos as a result, make sure to regularly check the App Store for new updates. If the problem is widespread, Google will surely be quick to tackle it with a patch.

To check for Google Photos updates, head over to the App Store, search for Google Photos, and install the update (if available).

Solution 6: Check the permissions

To allow Google Photos to sync your photos and videos, you have to permit it to access the photos from your iPhone’s storage in the first place. You were probably prompted to give Google Photos the necessary permissions when you first opened the app, so it’s possible that you pressed the wrong button, denying the necessary permission instead.

Here’s how to make sure Google Photos has the necessary permissions to access photos and videos from your iPhone’s storage:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to Privacy.
  3. Tap Photos.
  4. Tap Google Photos, and make sure the All Photos option is enabled.

Solution 7: Enable Background App Refresh

Background App Refresh is a feature that allows for minimized apps to always update their content in the background, so you can jump right in. If this feature is disabled, Google Photos will only sync your files when you’re actually in the app.

People usually disable this feature when they want to extend the battery, but the drawbacks are just too big, as it will disrupt other important processes, like the Google Photos sync in this case. So, it’s better if you enable Background App refresh to allow all your apps, including Google Photos, to function properly.

Here’s how to enable Background App refresh:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to General > Background App Refresh.
  3. Make sure the Background App Refresh option is on.
  4. Also, scroll down the list of apps, and make sure Background app refresh is enabled for Google Photos specifically.

Solution 8: Offload Google Photos

If none of the previous solutions resolved the syncing problem with Google Photos on your iPhone, you may as well try re-installing it. But you don’t need to do it the traditional way. iOS allows you to Offload apps instead of completely uninstalling them.

This means you’ll delete the app from the storage, but keep its data and documents. For example, login info. So, when you install the app back, you won’t have to go through the hassle of setting everything up from scratch.

Here’s how to offload Google Photos:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Head over to General > iPhone Storage.
  3. Scroll down until you find Google Photos.
  4. Tap the Google Photos app and go to Offload App.
  5. Tap Offload App to confirm.

Now, head over to the App Store, and install Google Photos again. Maybe offloading the app also took the syncing problem away.

That’s about it. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more articles like this.

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