Why I Never Delete Old Photos From My Phone

Key Takeaways

  • Unlimited storage options, including cloud storage and hard drives, make deleting photos unnecessary.
  • Photos of all kinds can spark memories and emotions many years later, including those you deem unimportant.
  • Old photos can be used in future creative projects or as historical records, and you simply don’t know what shots will prove useful.

The majority of people take multiple photos on their smartphone every day. And many more when on vacation or trip, at an event, or doing something more interesting than existing. Which means that the number of photos on your phone can massively increase over time.

However, despite this, I don’t delete any photos from my phone (beyond the blurry shots or those taken by mistake), and I heartily recommend that you never delete any photos from your phone either. Here are the reasons why…

Unlimited Storage Means Deleting Photos Is Unnecessary

The primary reason why I opt not to delete any photos from my phone is that there’s really no need to these days. Between cloud storage and (the many forms of) physical storage, there should be more than enough room for you to save every single photo you shoot from now until the end of time.

I personally own a Google Pixel and use Google Photos to store and organize my photos. Now, it is true that Google only offers a limited amount of cloud storage for free, with everyone able to rack up 15GB of content across Gmail, Photos, Drive, etc. I’m actually getting quite close to filling those 15GBs, but I still won’t be deleting photos. That’s because I have other options going forward.

I can pay Google a couple of dollars every month for masses more storage, or I can back my photos up to a physical hard drive and delete them from Google’s servers. I would rather do either of these latter options than delete photos from my phone and potentially erase a memory I can never revisit.

You Cannot Predict What Photos Will Spark a Memory

As I addressed in my article looking at why I never delete digital photos, you never know which photos will spark a memory years after they were taken. So that miscued shot that you could have decided to delete immediately could end up being a source of nostalgia many years later.

Photos are obviously snapshots of moments in time. But interestingly, it’s almost impossible to predict what photos will spark emotions when viewed at a later date. As an experiment, scroll casually through your camera roll now and mentally note which photos spark a memory.

Yes, the usual suspects will likely do that job; a photo of you and your partner smiling, your parents in their younger days, or a pet being cute. However, a picture of a building that summed up a cracking vacation, or a picture of a meal that made your mouth water can also do the job. Therefore, you’d be foolish to delete those photos that may seem unimportant when you’re scrolling through your shots.

The Subjects You Capture Will Not Always Be There

This is a tough aspect to write about, but the fact is that the people, places, and things you’re taking photos of today may not be there tomorrow. The most obvious example being photos of people who then pass away or leave your life for another reason.

As someone who has lost loved ones, any photos I have of those people that have passed are like gold dust. Unfortunately, I didn’t take enough photos of them while they were alive, but those I did take are important for obvious reasons. Therefore, I’m glad I never deleted any of those photos after shooting them; even those that are clearly far from perfect in terms of composition or quality.

Less important examples, but ones worth mentioning, are places and things. Those innocuous photos you shoot of your local town may, in time, prove to be important historical records as your town changes. As could that random shot of a new piece of technology you took as you opened it in a state of excitement.

You Never Know When Photos Might Come in Handy

Beyond the nostalgia and emotional support that old photos can offer, another reason to keep hold of them is the option of using shots in future creative projects. Whether that’s scrapbooking, digital art, or even gifts for a loved one. After all, you may have nieces, nephews, or even grandchildren in the future.

As you grow older and your hobbies and interests change, you may find yourself becoming more creative and needing access to old photos for a project. Childhood photos of an adult are a classic example, as they can be used to celebrate someone’s milestone birthday.

That photo of something unimportant that, right now, may seem surplus to requirements, could be a key element of a future project. You may not ever use it, but you may do, and it’s better to have a stock of your own original images rather than rely on other sources.

Tips for Those Who Decide Not to Delete Smartphone Photos

Now that you know why I never delete photos from my phone, and why I think you should follow suit, here are some tips to consider…

  • Never deleting anything means that organizing your photos becomes even more important. So, employ folders and albums as much as you can, sorting your photos in logical ways.
  • Don’t take the “Never” too literally. If I accidentally hit the shutter button and take a photo of the ground, I delete it. As I do with overly blurry shots where the subject is unrecognizable.
  • Try not shooting as many photos in the first place. Start thinking like an old-school photographer with a limited number of exposures, and shoot more carefully in the first place.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to never delete photos off of your phone. And, given the range of storage options available these days, there is no need to do so either.