Google Photos is messing up some of your old pictures, but a fix is on the way

Search pane in Google Photos
(Image credit: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A bug in Google Photos has corrupted some older backed-up images.
  • Users have noticed strange artifacts and discoloration on photos dating as far back as 2002.
  • Google says that it is rolling out a fix and that the original image file should not be affected.

When you upload your images to apps like Google Photos, the idea is that they're safely backed up without the need to worry about them. Well, some users have found a reason to worry as they find their old images corrupted with strange artifacts.

Within the past few days, users have reported the strange occurrence on the Google Photos support page and Reddit. Many state that the artifacts appear on images from around 2014, but the dates seem to vary, with one user reporting that they notice it on images as far back as 2002.

From the looks of the images, the artifacts make the images appear as if they're torn or water damaged, though that's not actually the case.

what_are_these_weird_artifacts_on_my_photo_i from r/googlephotos

It's a strange occurrence and pretty worrying, especially concerning photos users assumed were safe in Google's cloud service.

Fortunately, it looks like the photos aren't permanently damaged, and Google appears to be addressing the issue, according to a statement provided to 9to5Google:

"We're aware of the issue and are rolling out a fix. The original photos are not impacted."

That's a relief, and while a number of users have reported the issue, it's not clear just how widespread it is (none of my images were affected). Still, hopefully, the fix will arrive sooner rather than later.

Until then, Chrome Unboxed suggests that clearing your app cache may do the trick. Press and hold the Google Photos app icon and select the to enter the app info page. Select Storage > Clear cache. Furthermore, some users note that viewing the images in the editor and saving an edit appears to remove the artifacts. We can't confirm whether or not these methods work, but it may be worth a shot until an official fix rolls out.

That said, if this little debacle has you concerned for your precious memories, there are plenty of alternatives to Google Photos you can consider switching to.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.