I recently updated Google Photos (Build version on my Android phone and noticed that my photos are no longer set to automatically sync to the cloud. I went into the app's settings and I cannot find the option that formerly existed: "Backup while on WiFi only."

Is this feature hidden somewhere or did Google (perplexingly) remove it? I really counted on this to save on data usage, especially when uploading video.

  • The option has disappeared, but I think it does backup on WiFi only still.
    – Dan Brown
    Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 22:19
  • Ah, I think you might be right. Confusing wording on the Settings screen. At the top is "Back up & sync," which enables backup. Lower on the screen it says, "Cellular data back up...Photos." So I was thinking the only option is cellular backup. But I guess if you just turn on "Back up & sync" at the top without enabling anything in the "Cellular data back up" section, it will only back up via WiFi. I hope.
    – pjd
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 0:52
  • lets us know if it works!
    – Dan Brown
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 8:16
  • Just wanted to comment that I do not think Photos has a WiFi option anymore. Photos used 1.2 GB of data in the background of total 1.26 GB this month. Unacceptable. I suggest checking "While charging only" assuming you're only charging your phone at home or a location with WiFi. This is the best option I see right now unless you want to run out of data like I did.
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 23:31
  • I wish Google would bring the idea of a metered connection to android devices. In ChromeOS it can detect if you are on a connection where you pay for data, even if it is wifi, and will not use so much data if it is Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 0:47

2 Answers 2


OK, so I did some testing and have determined that although the wording on the Photos "Settings" screens has changed, it is still possible to back up your photos solely when the phone is connected to WiFi.

On the Settings-->Back up & sync screen, enabling "Back up & sync" means "WiFi ONLY" by default. Lower on the Settings screen, in the "Cellular data back up" section, enabling "Photos" means that you are allowing photos to back up when on your cellular network. Leaving this switch off will prevent cellular backup of photos, but by virtue of having "Back up & sync" enabled at the top of the screen, your photos will back up via WiFi.

See the screen shot below. I have drawn in red to emphasize the toggle switches mentioned in my answer.

Back up & sync settings

  • Cellular data backup option is not there on Nexus5x, and it is still doing the backup over cellular data
    – N.K
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 13:16

If "Back up & sync" is enabled, "Cellular data back up Photos" is disabled, and "Only while charging" is enabled, it will prevent backup of the photos if you have no wifi but you are charging the battery (a good thing...). After charging, you just get a notification like "n photos were not backed up; check your settings".


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