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Google Photos ditches a handy video backup option without telling you

Google Photos App Pixel 6 Pro
Google Photos App Pixel 6 Pro (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has quietly removed an option in Photos to prevent video backups while using mobile data.
  • Instead, this option has been replaced with the ability to specify a daily backup limit.
  • The latest change removes the ability to separate video backup from photos over cellular networks.

In regions where available Wi-Fi connections are limited and data allowances are small, the ability to prevent mobile data from being used to back up large media files comes in handy. Google Photos, on the other hand, has quietly removed a useful feature that allowed you to save mobile data from video backup uploads.

The option to disable video backups over cellular data in Google Photos has been removed, as first noticed by 9to5Google. Previously, there were separate options to back up photos and videos over cellular data, and you can choose to only back up videos over a Wi-Fi connection.

Instead, the service has replaced that setting with an option to specify a daily backup limit over mobile networks for both photo and video backups. You can access the new capability by heading over to the Photos settings menu and then opening "Backup & sync."

The latest change appears to have been rolled out only on Android phones, with iOS devices retaining the old options. There's also a new option to back up photos and videos while roaming.

The data allowances aren't generous by U.S. and European standards. You can choose to set no data at all or specify a paltry 5MB to 30MB for mobile data usage. Fortunately, there's an option to set no limit for media backups. Then again, the unlimited option isn't ideal in countries where data allowances are meager.

That said, the daily limits should not bother users in developed countries, where most people are willing to expend mobile data on photo backups. But having a separate option for whether or not to back up larger files like videos on mobile data, and instead perform the action over Wi-Fi, is always more pragmatic.

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

2 Comments
  • I've always just set Google Photos/OneDrive etc.. to wait until Wifi. Regardless of photos or videos. Constant uploading will probably zap battery. I guess you may lose that day's photos but you'll likely be on Wifi every evening.
  • For a period of my life I did not have home internet and relied on mobile data + tethering. Its surprising how many apps and services REQUIRE wifi, which I think is unreasonable. Give users more choice.