Copying images from an Android phone

Submitted by Andy on Sun, 03/11/2019 - 20:02
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There are many ways to backup /copy images from your Android phone camera. I will describe 3 possible methods.

Cloud storage

One of the easiest ways to automatically backup an Android phone is using cloud storage. There are phone settings to back up your phone. These do not backup your photos. However you can backup you photos automatically to Google Drive using the Google Photos app. In the Photo app settings turn on "Back & Sync".

You can also use Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox to automatically backup you photos.

With all these services you can use the desktop application to automatically download your files. 


  • Automatically backs-up
  • Easy to configure
  • Can free up storage on your phone
  • No extra hardware required


  • You need to agree to the services terms and conditions
  • The amount of free online storage is limited (although large)
  • Expanding the cloud storage can get expensive
  • You do not get complete control of where you wish to store your photos
  • You may not be able to access you photos without an internet connection

File manager software

Later versions of Android (7+) have basic file management software. For all versions of Android there are excellent 3rd party file manages e.g. File Manager +.

These apps allow you to copy files to a USB Flash drive plugged into you phone USB port. Some of the third party apps also allow you to transfer files shared folders on you PC using WIFI.  They can also make it easier to share photos via Bluetooth.


  • Allows you to backup directly to a USB drive
  • Can work with any file type not just photos
  • You have complete control how, when and where you images are stored
  • Additional software can cost


  • You may need extra software
  • Not automatic
  • Extra hardware (USB flash drive) may be required
  • Can be fiddly to use
  • Software also useful for organising your photos and files

Direct cable connection MTP /PTP

One of the most useful ways to backup your photos is using a direct cable connection. The cable is normally the same as the charging cable and provided with the phone. This method uses the phone as a removable storage device. Anyone that has used one of the photo printing kiosks will be familiar with this method.

Connecting your phone directly to computer will use MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) or PTP(Picture transfer protocol). Sometimes PTP is called Camera mode. You will need to select the correct method of connection on your phone once plugged in. Media Transfer Protocol was designed to transfer media files to and from devices like digital music players.


  • You have complete control how, when and where you images are stored
  • Used when printing digital photos (using kiosks)
  • No extra phone software required


  • Not automatic
  • USB Sync cable required
  • Can be fiddly to use
  • Can only backup media files
  • Some computers may require extra software