Can I delete photos on my device after posting them on iNat?

As I said, there’s no need to store anything on the phone, computers and external disks are for that (plus you don’t really upload thousands of obs from the app?), one month of RAWs weights more than what you say, so if you photograph, you need much more space anyway.

I have had this happen! I retain my photos for two years so usually have additional photos to offer. Sometimes they are helpful, sometimes not.

Here is my process:

  • My phone is set to automatically upload all photos I take to my Google photos. I don’t have to do anything additional.
  • I upload my observations as soon as possible, typically same day (often same hour).
  • I can delete photos from my phone anytime. I typically delete all photos from my phone at a time. Whee!
  • As part of my daily routine, I go through my Google photos taken on that same date two years previously and delete pretty much all of them unless some are good family photos or a fun photo of my dogs or something else I wish to retain. In that way I keep my storage manageable. (This takes me maybe three minutes so I typically just roll it into the last time I check my email on my laptop at night.)
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In general I would not trust any cloud storage to be reliable for a long period of time if they’re photos you care about. Too many image databases have popped out of existence, or changed their terms, had server outages, etc. taking untold amounts of data with them. I’d recommend just investing in a 2-3 TB external hard disc drive to back your photos up on, they’re around $40-60 USD nowadays.

But, as others have said, no you don’t have to worry about deleting photos affecting your observations!

I do upload thousands of photos per month in the summer from the app. August 2020 and June 2022 had over 4000 photos uploaded!


I used to HAVE to delete photos constantly. I had a very old phone with no cloud storage. If I didn’t delete, my phone would stop working. CNC will definitely overload your phone. Once the photos were posted on iNat, I deleted everything that I didn’t consider special for one reason or another. I HAD to.
I’ve never lost an observation on iNat, so all those photos are still there. I have a new phone with tons of storage as of last year. And I still delete.


If you value your photos, save them elsewhere too. Simple as that. The likelihood that your own backup systems are better than iNaturalist’s is fairly slim. However, I have FAR more photos than I post to iNat, so I live with my less reliable backup system.


Well, you waste your time, not that you have too many observations, but mass upload is just much easier and will get better results in checking geolocation.

Well, let me offer this contrary experience. I started using cloud storage when the images on a thumb drive were starting to corrupt. The ones I uploaded to the cloud were preserved in their existing state at the time – perhaps just slightly corrupted, like this one of a Caribbean pygmymelon – whereas the thumb drive continued to corrupt until nothing was left of it. I would have lost all those pictures I cared about if I hadn’t used cloud storage.

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I remove most of the photos after adding them to the app and BEFORE I upload them. A bit risky cause sometimes photo’s dissappear during the upload but there is no reason to keep them, unless the photo is of excellent quality.

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