Using Dropbox to get the Photos Off My Phone (Digital Decluttering Project #1)

I'm on a mission to declutter all of my electronics & cloud storage in February.  Everything from my twitter follows to all those documents stuffed in google drive, from my ebook collection to all those newsletters cluttering up my email - and more.  

I like to keep all of my different cloud storage separate, and used for one purpose.  For instance, I use to store my ebook collection, and to store my genealogy files (pdfs of pension records, civil war diary, etc.  Files that I share with others).  I use Dropbox specifically for moving photos from my phone to my laptop.

Things to Keep In Mind:

  • You want to back up your photos to dropbox while on wifi.  It uses a fair amount of data. 
  • If I have  a  lot of photos to back up at once, I like to make sure my phone is plugged in.
  • For me, the best time to do this is when I go to bed.  My phone is plugged in, on wifi, I'm not using it for anything else, tell it to upload the photos to dropbox, and it does the work while I sleep.  In the morning I check dropbox to make sure the photos uploaded, then I delete them off my phone.
If I upload photos during the day, I have an odd habit of moving my phone to right beside my laptop- as if  I am moving closer to a wifi signal.  I really do know that this is not how cloud storage & wifi work, but it's a habit I can't seem to break.  :-)

The Carousel App Doesn't Work For Me

Dropbox has a separate app called Carousel.  This app will automatically sort and upload your photos for you, automatic back up.  This does NOT work for me.  It just created more work, because it wants to back up every photo I take, which means I have to not only sort them off my phone, but then later sort them again out of dropbox.  I take a lot of photos of weird things.  You know - text a photo of a shirt to a friend, or a picture of headphones to my son to make sure I'm getting the right ones, or a photo of a flyer to my husband to alert him of an event that would make a good date night idea...

A lot of stuff that I do not need backed up in the cloud.  Probably 75% of the photos I take I do not need backed up.  I do like the way it looks, and like the overall concept - but I'm learning that just because I LIKE an app, doesn't mean it is actually the most efficient choice for me.  If it would let me choose to just specify my Upload folder, and then choose the time of day for the photos to sync, I might love this app.  But sadly, it lacks those features, so it just doesn't work for me.

Sorting Dropbox in The Uploading, Not Just Creating One More Area That Needs Sorted Later

The first thing I did was create a folder on my phone, where my photos are stored, named "Upload".

Now when I sort the photos off my phone (during football season I do this on thursday nights while working the ticket booth during the Junior High games...  since football season has ended, I've been really behind in my photo sorting.  I'm trying to get back in the habit of doing it weekly.) I move anything I want to save into the upload folder.  If I want a copy of it on my phone too, I copy it to a different folder. I have folders for Family photos, Farm Photos, etc.  Everything in the upload folder I plan to delete off my phone once uploaded.

Dropbox Folders - 

  • Apps - The Apps folder is an automatic folder, some of the apps I use on my phone back up information automatically to dropbox.  This is nice - when I change phones, those apps sync all of my data right back, flawlessly.
  • Dan is my husband.  :-)  When he sends me pics he took with his phone, of say our daughters cheer competition, etc, he sends them to this folder - I sort them out later.
  • Family Photos are everything from my phone that gets sorted into the photo folders that will theoretically at the end of the year go into a Shutterfly album.  (I'm currently 2 years behind...)
  • for desktop - that is an error.  That folder isn't actually there anymore, but I must have taken the screenshot before it synced again, so it appears here.  :-)  
  • For Phone - this is the folder I use when on my laptop - if I want to send something to my phone this is usually how I do it.  For instance, one of the photos I have from last night, from my dslr camera, I want to put on instagram.  I sent it to my phone to to share on instagram later.
  • Genealogy - a LOT of the photos on my phone are from visits to genealogical research areas.  Most of the time, rather than take notes from an article while in a library, I just snap a photo of the page.  Then when I sit down to work on genealogy research, I go through this folder and add the information to my blog,, etc.
  • Music - Remember how I said I like to keep all of my cloud storage separate?  I do, but the rest of my family, not so much.  :-)  My son wanted to share a song with me, he uses dropbox, so he created a folder and sent it to my phone that way. 
  • To Post - I also take a lot of photos of how I cook things, especially now that I have a daughter in law who asks how I make things, and of different projects, etc, for my blog.  Those photos all go in this folder.  The screenshot above went into that folder.  When I sit down to type a blog post, the photos are there waiting - whether I am on my phone, or on my laptop.

I do still have to clean out dropbox once in awhile, but with all of the photos presorted, this isn't the daunting task it was when I just had them all going into one folder labeled "for desktop".