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Google Photos stops syncing with Google Drive in July

Google Photos is my friend
Google Photos is my friend (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Starting in July, Google Photos will not automatically sync to Google Drive.
  • Once changes take effect, deleting a photo or video in Google Drive won't delete it from Google Photos, and vice versa.
  • Changes are coming to "simplify" experience going forward, according to Google.

Google Photos is one of the better services Google offers right now — free unlimited backups of photos and videos across all your devices — and one of my favorite tricks for Google Photos was that everything I took wound up in a dedicated Google Drive folder for easy access and organization, but that feature's days look like they're numbered.

The first mention of this possibility came from Forbes a month ago, and according to Android Police, the changes are coming in an effort clear up user confusion and provide a "simplified" experience going forward.

Apparently users have been confused that deleting a photo in Google Photos deletes the copy of it in Google Drive — and vice versa — and other oddities such as edits made in Google Photos not showing up on the photo in Google Drive. Admittedly, even the support page for Photos/Drive syncing has a lot of pitfalls and caveats in it, and this change is aimed at making things easier to understand and manage for users.

It is worth noting that you'll still be able to sync photos to both Photos and Drive — but only with the Google Backup & Sync tool. Need to get photos from Google Drive into Google Photos? Google Photos will have a "Upload from Drive" feature to allow for easy importing, but there's no such luck in the opposite direction, which is huge bummer for me and for all Chromebook users.

See, since Google Drive is integrated into the Files app on Chromebooks, with automatic syncing turned on, you could access and edit/upload Google Photos images directly from the Google Photos folder in the Files app. With the new changes, that goes away and you'll have to manually download photos every single time you want to use them on a Chromebook, complicating what was a mostly seamless process.

Google Photos in Files app via Google Drive

This also means that should Google Photos go offline for any reason, your photos will be totally inaccessible, as opposed to still being accessible through Google Drive during unexpected outages.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

8 Comments
  • Well this seems like it'll only make things more complicated. Terrible idea, Google. Just nope.
  • I was just thinking about this today. I wish the photos sync and regular drive sync were split apart. It sucks when there is a backlog of photos syncing, and you can't get a file up to my cloud drive ahead of the photos which aren't critical atm
  • i feel like that would better be addressed by prioritization. Either through manually telling Drive that a file is high priority, or setting up rules like Photos are automatically a lower priority than anything else. Because the above article seems to be more of a confusion, and at least more common for more people, than your scenario. It seems like that would only happen to machines that aren't connected online that often and get backlogs to sync during that time.
  • How does this affect storage usage for those who use full-size backups?
  • Your full resolution photos count towards your Google Drive/Google One storage. The same way that your Gmail inbox counts towards your limit. No change there.
  • Oh, com'on!
    Don't stop sync... Pls!
  • Very bad idea. Google Photos saves photos in google drive, with this way I can change folder structure. I can make different folders for holidays etc. If google stops sync between google drive and google photos I will loose my custom folder structure. Also I sync my photos to my NAS device with google drive, I will lose this. I don't want it. Very stupid decision!
  • Do like a lot of others have done like myself open up a dropbox account they are still syncing and will not be stopping. Google are going to lose a lot of valued customers doing things like this.