How To Wirelessly, Automatically Backup Your iPhone Photos

How To Wirelessly, Automatically Backup Your iPhone Photos

Backing up your iPhone doesn’t backup your photos, and if you’re not in constant sync you could easily lose them in a crash. Here’s how to jailbreak your iPhone and set up an automatic photo-syncing process.

Necessity is the mother of invention as usual. Of course, I didn’t create any of the software to do thisl I just put them all together to make them work for me. Props to TurboFTP for their awesome FTP client. You will also need Google’s Picasa Photo Manager, which is free (except for additional space if needed in your Google account).

Now, before you get entrenched in this, be aware you will need to have already jailbroken your iPhone (see Spirit, ZiPhone or keep an eye on the jailbreak tag page) so that you can SSH into it… and for the love of God, CHANGE YOUR SSH PASSWORD WHEN YOU DO JAILBREAK YOUR IPHONE! {Gentle word of warning :)} Along with the usual disclaimer: These instructions are provided at your own risk and no warranty as to their functionality is either expressed or implied, and I will not be held responsible for any actions arising thereof. Now, where were we? Oh yes…

The only reason that I even had to do this is because I am too lazy to connect my iPhone to my PC and back up my photos over iTunes. Well it ended up biting me in the arse because my iPhone had to be hard reset because of some tinkering on my part, and I lost four months’ worth of photos and videos! Oh well, lesson learned. Regardless, I knew that I still wouldn’t connect my iPhone routinely to upload my pictures to my PC. I searched on the internet to see if there was anything out there that could do this for me, and I couldn’t find anything. Here is what I did so that my photos are backed up every two hours to the web.

Step 1
Download and install TurboFTP. It allows secure FTP connections to your jailbroken iPhone and has an additional function that I will mention later. Also download and install Google Picasa.

Step 2
Open TurboFTP and click the “Scheduling Clock” at the top of the screen. We are going to make a backup schedule and tell it where to place the files.

Step 3
Click the “Add” button to add a scheduled task.

Step 4
Enter the “Site” as your iPhone IP address. (If you haven’t assigned your iPhone a static IP address on your network, do it now). Also set the port as “22″ just like in the screenshot below.

Your Remote Folder for pictures on your iPhone should be the same as mine: /private/var/mobile/Media/DCIM

Your Local Folder can be wherever you want to store the pictures after they are copied to your workstation from your iPhone. Preferably a folder within your “My Pictures” folder.

The Launch Time will default to the current time.

Set the Repeat Task to however often you want your iPhone photos to be backed up to your workstation.

Step 5
Choose the Synchronization Direction as “DOWNLOAD”.

The Synchronization Scheme should be set to “Add only new files to destination”. This is the part that in was mentioning earlier. TurboFTP allows for the option to compare the photo files on your iPhone with your workstation and only copy the latest files… cool!

Check the box for “Include subfolders”.

Step 6
Click the “Excludes Filters”, enter the following exclusions below just as they are and click “OK”.

Step 7
Then click the “Include Filters” and input the settings below and click “OK”. *Please note: even though these files will be copied to your workstation, they will not be sent to the web later. Only JPEGs will be synced to the web.

Step 8
Click “OK” on the “Schedule Task Settings” window.

Go ahead and test the copy/backup by clicking the “Run Now” button on the Task Scheduler screen.

If all is successful, the FTP client will have connected to your iPhone, compared the files to what is in the current directory on your workstation and copied the files to it that did not already exist.

If that didn’t work for you, recheck all of the steps and screenshots above to ensure that your IP address and port are correct as well as the synchronisation settings.

Still not working? Rinse and repeat.

Step 9
Now comes the easy part.

Remember in the beginning of the steps where you installed Picasa? Oh, you didn’t do that yet? OK, well do it now… ready?

You will need to have a Google account of some sort in order to upload the files to your Picasa account so make sure those settings are in there.

We’re going to have to rely on some common sense at this point. This is where you need to set up Picasa to recognise the directories where you are copying the iPhone photos. Most likely, Picasa has already located your “My Pictures” directory and it is listed in Picasa.

If that is the case, you will need to set up sync capabilities to the web from within Picasa. Do this by toggling the “Sync to Web” to “On”.

Occasionally, as you take more pictures with your iPhone, new directories will invariably be created on your local workstation. Although TurboFTP will see this and create the new directories, Picasa will not sync the new directories unless specifically told to do so. So you may have to occasionally set the sync option to “On” for any new directories created in the future.

Step 10
So that’s it! There you have it. Now you can take comfort in knowing that your iPhone photos are not only being backed up locally to your workstation, but they are also being synced off-site. Sure, this does rely on Wi-Fi within your own home, but it’s what works for me, and I’m quite happy with it. I wish that there were a way to upload any new photos via 3G and I’m sure that someone’s already thought of it and working on it. Hope this is helpful to someone else out there that has run into the same issues as I have with protecting their iPhone photos!


  • There would be a better way of doing this with rsync or scp, so that you don’t have to assign a static IP, instead using the device’s name on the network (and not relying on platform specific software!)

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