Google Photos is Google’s ambitious free photo backup solution. It’s one of the best Google services out there, and since Google I/O it has been getting even better. But not every feature change has been met with applause. Back in late June, Google suddenly removed the ability for photos to be backed up only while the device is charging. According to a top contributor on the Google product help forum, this change is intentional, though Google has still not offered a reason as to why they removed. What’s even stranger is that the removal of the Google Photos backup while charging option is not universal – some users report still having it while many do not.
Perhaps Google is transitioning to a new algorithm based on JobScheduler which they believe does not result in a significant impact on battery. Whatever the reason, the transition has not been handled very well. Having Google Photos automatically start backing up photos when the device connects to WiFi is a major pain as it cripples my slow home Internet (I don’t have very many options in my town). Nevertheless, I figured out a way for you to manually bring back the Google Photos backup when charging feature, but it requires a bit of effort (and root access).
Left: No Backup While Charging Only Option. Right: Backup While Charging Only Option.
Bring Back Google Photos Backup while Charging
I can confirm that the following tweak works as I have tested it on Google Photos version 188.8.131.52520514 on both my OnePlus 5 running Android 7.1.1 Nougat as well as a Google Pixel on Android O Developer Preview 4.
You will need to install a file explorer application that is capable of browsing directories in the /data partition, as mentioned previously. This means that the application should be root-enabled. While I personally prefer Solid Explorer, if you don’t already have a file browser that you prefer I recommend downloading the free MiXplorer app from our Apps & Games forum.
Once you’ve installed a file manager app, open it up then navigate to the following directory:
now open the following preference text file:
Find the following line near the top and change the value “false” to “true”
<boolean name="backup_prefs_backup_only_when_charging" value="false" />
Preference change to enable Google Photos backup while charging only
After you’ve changed the boolean value, close the preference file. Go to Settings –> Apps and find and Force Close Google Photos. Now re-open Google Photos and you should be able to enable the backup while charging only Google Photos option!