Google+ and OneDrive can automatically backup your photos to online storage as soon as you take them. This sounds like a great idea, but there are problems with both services that you might not like. Is it time to ditch them?

OneDrive photo backup problems

If you have the Microsoft OneDrive app on your mobile phone or tablet, you can shoot photos and straight away, or as soon as you have connected to a Wi-Fi network, the photos are uploaded and stored online. It is free and it means that your snapshots are stored safely and securely in case anything should happen to your phone.

This feature can be turned on in OneDrive’s settings on both iOS and Android.

It sounds great, but there is a problem. All photos videos are uploaded to the Camera Roll folder on OneDrive. At first this is OK, but as more and more photos and videos are added you will want to organise them in some way.

What I do is to create a folder for each year, so I have a 2014 folder into which I move all the photos taken in 2014. In there I have a folder for each event, such as birthdays, weddings, holidays and trips. This is a simple way to organise images and I can easily go to 2008 and look at my holiday photos for example.

OneDrive appears to scan the Camera Roll folder and if there are photos on the phone that are not online, it uploads them. After organising several hundred photos into folders, OneDrive on my iPhone scanned the online Camera Roll folder, discovered that lots of photos were on the phone but not online and proceeded to upload them again. Over 500 of them. It was a complete waste of time and storage space and I ended up with duplicates.

What it should do is upload photos once and once only, regardless of what is in the online Camera Roll folder. Being unable to move photos online prevents you from organising them and as the number of photos rises, the folder takes longer and longer to access.

Windows Explorer can crash when accessing the OneDrive Camera Roll folder on the PC too. It seems a bit sensitive to videos and you have to move videos out of the Camera Roll folder or you run into problems, but then OneDrive on the phone uploads everything again.

I have switched off automatic photo uploads and now upload them manually.

OneDrive on iOS . Android Google+ photo backup

Google+ Photos problems

There is a different problem with Google+, which is another app that automatically uploads your photos and stores them online. It is the natural choice on Android phones.

It uploads them OK, but when accessing Google+ on the PC and Mac using a browser, all photos everywhere are displayed. I have website images uploaded to Blogger and used in blog posts, I have images used with work documents on Google Drive, and I have personal photos taken on my phone. Google+ photos shows everything, mixing blog post images, work images and personal photos. I had deleted quite a few photos before I realised I was deleting work images and blog posts.

It is a mess and I cannot see any way to separate them. I don’t want work photos stored on Google Drive mixed with personal holiday snaps taken with my phone.

The Photos Android app lets you view photos that are only on the device (tap the menu button to open the left panel and select On Device), but you cannot do this in web browser on the computer. I need to be able to filter photos by source and just view phone photo backups.

I have turned off auto backup of camera photos for Google+ and I will transfer them manually to the computer. This way I am in control and I can choose where and when they are uploaded.