How to Automate Backups with IFTTT in 2021: Keep Your Photos Safe With Automation

Want to back up your photos, but don’t fancy shelling out for a backup service? In this guide we show you how to automate photo backups with IFTTT, using several free cloud storage providers.

Fergus O'Sullivan
By Fergus O'Sullivan (Editor-at-Large, Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-10-24T12:02:32+00:00

You probably know you should be regularly backing up your photos, but the fact is that many people don’t want the hassle of setting up one of the best online backup services, or spending any money on them. In this guide, we’ll show you how to automate backups with IFTTT, an automation tool that requires little to no coding knowledge.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you want to automate the backup of your photos, IFTTT is a great option as it has a great free plan. All you need is some cloud storage space.
  • Even if you are on Android, backing up photos with IFTTT is a great redundancy for Google Photos.
  • Using IFTTT is pretty easy, but it’s made even easier as most automations are already set up for you.

What you’ll need is an IFTTT account, as well as an account with one of the best cloud storage services. For this guide, we’ll be using Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox as our main examples, but there are other services you can use as well. 

The upside to using these three is that they all have excellent free plans (they’re all entries in our best free cloud storage roundup). IFTTT itself has a free tier as well, so none of this has to cost you a single penny. 

Assuming you have all the accounts you need, let’s get started. We’ll briefly go over what IFTTT is and how it works, before going over how to back up photos.

  • 10/22/2021 Facts checked

    Updated this guide to focus on creating automatic backups for photos, and included step-by-step instructions.

  • IFTTT can help back up some data to cloud storage. It won’t transfer files from your desktop computer, for instance, but it can back up files from your mobile devices.

  • You can automate backups using IFTTT by replacing the trigger with a time interval and you’re all set.

  • IFTTT has several applets that work with OneDrive, so no worries there.

Automate Backups: How IFTTT Works

IFTTT — short for “if this, then that” — is a program that lets you set up small automations within or between programs. These automations, called “applets” by IFTTT, are like little formulas. They fire when a trigger is set off and then perform an action.

In this case, the trigger could be that you took a photo with your phone, which tells IFTTT to perform the action of copying it into Google Drive. It’s really that simple, as is setting up the formula in the first place. We go into a lot more detail in our full IFTTT guide, where we also have some other examples, like backing up one cloud storage account with another one.

What makes things even easier is that many of the actions we’ll be discussing in this article are so popular that they already have applets set up — all you need to do is fill in your personal preferences and you’re good to go. 

Simply go to “my applets” in IFTTT and fill in your storage provider of choice.

ifttt storage providers
IFTTT has plenty of different storage providers to choose from.

That said, you may want to read through our guide before we proceed, as we will assume you know your way around applets a little for the rest of the piece.

Setting up Automatic Backups for Photos From Your Phone

There are a number of applets aimed at helping you back up your photos. In most cases, all you need to do is first download the IFTTT app onto your phone and give it access to the files on your phone. Make sure to do that beforehand, or the steps below won’t work as well.

Then, you need to complete the following steps, though they may differ depending on the storage you’re using. In this case, we’ll set up an applet that will back up photos from an Android phone to Dropbox.

  1. Find the Right Applet

    Go into IFTTT and search for the cloud storage service you’re using. In that menu, scroll down until you find the applet you need.

    ifttt android to dropbox
  2. Connect the Applet

    Once you’ve found the applet you want, click on it and you’ll be brought to a new menu with a huge “connect” button. Click on it.

    ifttt connect
  3. Give IFTTT Access

    You’ll automatically be brought to a screen where you’ll be asked to allow IFTTT access; click “allow.”

    ifttt access
  4. Change Applet Settings

    You’ll get a notification on your phone asking if you want to give IFTTT access to your photos. Click “yes” if you haven’t authorized it earlier, and IFTTT will bring you to a new screen where you can tweak your applet’s settings.

    ifttt applet settings
  5. Test the Applet and Finish the Process

    Change the Dropbox path if you’d like, then hit “save.” You’ll be brought to a new menu where you can disconnect the app, delete it or just test it. We recommend you test it real quick to see if it works. If it doesn’t, try the whole process again. If it does, congratulations — you’ve set up your first applet.

    ifttt applet connected

That’s pretty much all there is to it, and other combinations of phone and storage service will work similarly. Before we wrap up, though, there’s one more really cool trick IFTTT has up its sleeve.

Setting up Social Media Backups With IFTTT

Besides setting up backups of photos that you’ve taken or downloaded, you can also set up IFTTT to automatically copy any photos on your social media accounts to your cloud storage — including Facebook, Instagram and a few others.

ifttt facebook backup
This is just a few examples of the ways you can back up photos on social media.

Again, all you need to do is find the applet you need, give IFTTT permission to access your photos and you’re off to the races. It’s easy as pie.

Final Thoughts

That’s really all there is to it: Get a free account with a cloud storage provider, sign up to IFTTT and pick the right applet. You won’t have to worry about losing photos again; just make sure you always have enough storage space.

Did this short guide help you back up your photos? Or did you run into issues? Is there a better way we’ve overlooked? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thank you for reading.