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Google Photos will stop syncing to Drive (googleblog.com)
265 points by vanburen on June 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 201 comments

Since I do not trust any cloud service with the master/only copy of my data (and I do not trust my phone -- the origin of my photos -- as a permanent storage device), I developed a tool called Timeliner which downloads all your content from Google Photos and other online services to your own computer: https://github.com/mholt/timeliner

I run this on a cronjob and it adds all my photos to a timeline in conjunction with my tweets and Facebook posts. It's got a few rough edges but should (mostly) work as advertised.

I would love to have help maintaining it, especially now given this announcement (because Timeliner does not require Google Drive).

One major limitation with the Google Photos API is that it's impossible to get the location data from the photos through it. Timeliner tries to compensate for this by allowing you to import your Google Location History, but this is not ideal either. Edited to add (since there are a lot of the same question in the replies): no, the EXIF metadata does not contain the location because Google Photos API strips it out (it leaves most other metadata intact).

My use case is backup of photos that are taken from my phone. and of course finding a data organization strategy that I'm not forced to change every year due to whatever bad news comes out about such and such a vendor, such as this one.

I just saw the EXIM detail which is kind of a dealbreaker, in conjunction with the fact that google photos is yet another API they will probably keep messing with and changing in the future, and I instead upgraded my Dropbox account to 2TB (which wasn't really an option when I first started with google photos) and am using Autosync https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ttxapps.dr... to push my photos out as is (Dropbox's photo sync wants to rename the photos for no good reason). Just pushing out the raw data from the phone directly where I can grab it on my synology on the backend seems like the best approach. But it's only been about 45 minutes and there's plenty of time for something to blow up, maybe I'll be back.

>One major limitation with the Google Photos API is that it's impossible to get the location data from the photos through it.

Isn't this embedded with the photo itself, the EXIF data? Or is that what the Google API strips out of the photo?

Also: Thanks for the link to timeliner, looks useful.

Google strips it out. As a work around people have been using the "sync to Drive" feature, which allows downloading of photos with the GPS data in-tact. But now that's going away...

There are two possibilities I can think of. (1) Scrape the location from the web app, or (2) maybe Google Takeout for Google Photos leaves the location metadata intact? Feel free to discuss here: https://github.com/mholt/timeliner/issues/38

Why not use Nextcloud's auto-upload feature and get a copy of the image without any intermediary mangling the file? Seems best if your looking to have a backup of your data...

I've been using Google Photo's as an easy way to make sure my images are safely "in the cloud" for several years. I've only recently got around to try and sync my library down onto my computer. Google Photos has several limitations I dislike, the lack of GPS data being only the latest one I'm learning about, but it does the job of syncing whenever internet is available pretty good. I'm not looking to move to another system I have to maintain.

I had just stumbled on Timeliner a couple days ago. Looks awesome. I've been thinking a lot lately about a) how to take control of ones data without getting overwhelmed with server configuration, backups, file formats, mobile apps etc etc and b) how to summarize a life's worth of data in a way that will be digestible by descendants 100 years from now who will never have the time to trawl through all the data available from their ancestors. Great to see others thinking about the same problems.

I love the idea of that (and your tool). I 100% agree on the idea of that implementation. I now have almost 15 years of photos in iCloud with things that would be particularly devastating to lose. Memorable vacations, lost pets and relatives. It really would be like loosing a large chunk of my history.

Looks like you don't support iCloud, not surprised I'm sure there's no public API and their API would be quite fragile and hostile to use.

I do use google photos on my phone, so everything syncs from iCloud -> Google Photos anyway.

Why don't you use the Apple Photos option that keeps (or syncs back if you don't have it locally) the original file on your Mac and then just do a regular TimeMachine, Arq, rsync backup of the directory from your Mac? I think that's what this feature is for, only downside is that you need the disk space for it but shouldn't be a problem with an external drive.

This is exactly what I do. I have an old headless Mac mini that has a 2 TB drive and syncs all photos via iCloud/Photos, then a time machine backup of that volume.

I can take a picture on any device, or copy in a picture or video, or import from my camera SD card on any device, and within a few minutes I have at least 2 backup copies available.

I just wish Nikon, Canon, Sony, or anyone really would be able to integrate a DSLR/mirrorless camera into Dropbox or iCloud Photos so I could take out the manual import process :P

> I just wish Nikon, Canon, Sony, or anyone really would be able to integrate a DSLR/mirrorless camera into Dropbox or iCloud Photos so I could take out the manual import process :P

Given that eyefi exists, this is mostly a client-side software issue. We already have the technology, which is awesome.

The other minor problem with this approach is it requires a Mac. Is there a decent solution for iOS photo backup to Linux?

No. I’ve successfully used an OSX virtual machine to broker between Apple Photos and other object/file management systems though.

I move my photos to linux then back them up to several places. One day I’ll publish my scripts, but they aren’t strictly necessary. Gthumb, exiftool, and ffmpeg will get you far.

That looks great! I’d like to have support for iCloud. Have you tried it already? Alternatively, I’d consider adding it as data source myself.

I haven't (I don't use iCloud) - go for it! Would love to see more data sources. See https://github.com/mholt/timeliner/issues/18

I haven’t thought at using the privacy export! Thanks for pointing out. I’ll try adding the data source, so we’ll have incremental.

If you have a macOS device available, you can set the Photos app to download and keep full-quality copies of all photos in your library.

I have a Synology NAS and use CloudSync to maintain a copy of my Google Drive/Photos in my local NAS. The problem with this announcement for me is that the recommended method to backup Google Photos to my NAS is to enable the Google Photos folder in Google drive and use cloudsync to backup Google Drive. See https://www.synology.com/en-us/knowledgebase/DSM/help/CloudS...

This announcement breaks that and destroys the easiest option for downloading all photos from Google.

Awesome. Putting the hacker into Hacker News.

Absolutely. Fix the problem, instead of complaining about it or explaining in detail why it can't or shouldn't be fixed.

This looks great. Thanks.

There is also Perkeep which is very interesting as well. https://perkeep.org/

> One major limitation with the Google Photos API is that it's impossible to get the location data from the photos through it.

Shouldn't jpegs have this data if geoloc was on at the time of shooting ? Am I right in understanding that you imply that this meta-data is somehow disconnected from the file on Google Photos ?

That understanding is correct, according to my interpretation of this comment [0].

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20166771

Matt, long time no talk!

This is awwwwwwesome!!!

I was just the other night telling somebody I wish I had something like this.

Another feature (do you know anything that does this, or if it could be done in timeliner?) is if it could republish my photos to Facebook if it got them from Google Photos, and vice-versa?

Hi Mark :) Been a while! I think I want to keep Timeliner read-only on the data sources, but I'm sure there are already tools out there that can sync between your online accounts like that.

> Location data is stripped. Photos are downloaded with their full EXIF metadata except for latitude and longitude. This is unfortunate. We recommend augmenting your timeline with Google Location History to add location data.

This is indeed extremely sad.

I have similar mistrusts and my only acceptable solution has been to copy the actual files off my phone onto my computer (largely manual; some scripts), and to treat cloud hosts as backups of last resort. Even Dropbox (which is otherwise great) doesn’t upload Live Photos, (or preserve the file name of the photo).

I’m writing from an iPhone/Ubuntu perspective.

I do it to, but I use Syncthing to copy to my home server. It works really well on Android. Pretty much just set it up and forget about it.

> the EXIF metadata does not contain the location because Google Photos API strips it out

There's a setting:

"Remove geo location in items shared by link Affects items shared by link but not by other means"

Edit: I just tried it, I downloaded a photo and double checked, EXIF location data was included.

Did you download the photo via the web interface or the Google Photos API? If via the API, I'd be very surprised; if via the web interface, then that's different from the API and isn't really feasible at scale (I have a test script where I tried using a headless browser buuuut it is very very slow and flaky.)

You know what's a good idea: for every image that it downloads and stores, you could add a new field in the EXIF metadata and name it Timeliner-Sponsors. :)

That should make all the sponsors happy, right?

Joking aside, looks like a good project.

Great tool - do you have a docker image pre-made for this? This would be perfect to run directly off a NAS such as a QNAP so it is set and forget :)

Also checkout perkeep

This is amazing as this is something I've wanted to work on forever.

Sucks that EXIF is stripped upon being uploaded into Google.

Why not use an open source app like Syncopoli (which is a rsync client, available on F-Droid) to back up your pictures (including location and other metadata) and other files on your phone to your rsync server, which would be your own computer or VPS?

Just add wireguard

I sync from my phone to Google Photos, OneDrive, and iCloud. OneDrive and iCloud syncs to my computer. Then I have BackBlaze backing up from my computer.

I think I have enough backups.

I have a similar workflow as well. Although I do like when Google makes those AI highlight movies.

Perhaps it could read the location from exif data?

Location metadata is stripped from EXIF when downloaded through Google Photos API.

Only alternative I can figure is to scrape the actual Google Photos web app.

How can you trust your computer? What if your hard drive fails? How would you recover your photos then?

Given his involvement, I'd imagine the answer would be https://relicabackup.com/

> "Since I do not trust any cloud service with the master/only copy"

All photos still exist in the cloud, backed up on a hard drive. Multiple copies are unlikely to fail at the same time.

Cloud providers are notorious for automated systems that will lock you out of your account, with no recourse and no ability to talk to a human about it.

My guess would be RAID 1?

My day job is programming and I'm obviously computer literate, so it's an embarrassment to confess I don't understand:

a- the difference between Google Photos and Google Drive.

b- the difference between Google Photos and the folder titled "Google Photos" in Google Drive.

c- whether I'll be able to backup/restore the pictures from my Android phone to Google Drive.

d- whether this affects me at all.

Color me confused. And if I am confused, I cannot imagine what regular users will think of this.

Yeah, I saw the GDrive integration more like a nice to have. Never really used it, to be honest.

> a- the difference between Google Photos and Google Drive

One is an photo all with storage. The other is a storage service that can also hold photos.

>b- the difference between Google Photos and the folder titled "Google Photos" in Google Drive.

The later was a way to access the photos stored in Google Photos through a filesystem.

>c- whether I'll be able to backup/restore the pictures from my Android phone to Google Drive.

I think you back them up to Google Photos.

>d- whether this affects me at all.

It does if you relied on access to your photos through a gdrive-synced directory on your computer.

I use it all the time!

Thanks to this integration, I can just run leave the Google Drive desktop sync client running and have a local backup of all my photos.

I'm glad I'm not the only one!

From the G release, "These changes will let you easily choose where photos and videos are stored across products." I want 1 product, one place for all my stuff. Isn't that what Google One (https://one.google.com) was supposed to be? From their promo copy "Your storage includes Drive, Gmail, and original quality images in Google Photos."

I am altering the deal, pray I don't alter it any further.

This is a quote from star wars, in case anyone was wondering

I thought it's only about having only one payment to make.

Add to this: Whether the photos in Photos and Drive are your unmodified original image files, or the compressed "high quality" Google Photos ones.

I know someone that wrote all his data to each major consumer cloud provider, downloaded it, and compared checksums.

Nothing (except maybe Dropbox) passed this test. This was ~ 5 years ago.

That probably depends on how GPhotos is set up to "store" your photos. If it's set to transform them, then you'll probably find the transformed ones in GDrive. If it's set to keep the original, then you'll find that.

Another confusion is when deleting photos from the phone, will it delete them on Google Photos/Drive? There are two use cases. First is junk you want to delete everywhere. The other is reducing the space on the phone but retaining it on Google Photos/Drive.

Deleting on phone shows a this will delete from everywhere label. I haven't even made the minimum effort to verify that it makes photos at least harder to access.

Google Photos has Archive which removes it from your local storage but retains the file in your Google Photos cloud storage.

It also only applies to G Suite users (read: paying subscribers). I don't know what that means, though -- if maybe this functionality was ONLY available as part of G Suite, or if the discontinuation only affects paying customers (which would be weird).

> It also only applies to G Suite users (read: paying subscribers).

Another commenter [1] pointed out that there's a separate announcement for non-business users: https://www.blog.google/products/photos/simplifying-google-p...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20166736

This is pretty interesting topic.

What do you mean you don't understand these? You spent no time thinking about them? You have never used this sync feature? (Your mention of Google Photos folder makes me assume otherwise.)

I'm trying to understand what kind of internal/mental model of these concepts you had when you said you don't understand it.

Mostly because these seem trivial, but naturally these are still pretty complex features (if someone wants to program/specify/test/verify/replicate them).

So, I feel I understand them, but just because I have a very-very basic guess of how this might have been implemented. (Which is basically how I think I would have implemented it.)

To be honest it's a combination of "I should not have to care about this" with "I skimmed the documentation and Google's unclear warnings and they didn't clear my questions" and "I'm confused by Google's multiple overlapping products and their similar names". And no, I don't think I've ever synced a folder with Photos, the way I use Dropbox.

So here's a little history of my usage:

Once upon a time, I used Picasa. Can't remember if it was a separate product that Google bought or if it was always Google's. I stored pictures from my vacations there.

Then Picasa ceased to exist. I believe Google automigrated all the pictures to... Google Photo? Or whatever it was called.

Fast forward till recently, and I got an email warning that Google Photo was about to be end-of-life'd. Soonish. I wasn't sure if I had to do something about it. I followed some unclear tutorial by Google, and I think that created the "Google Photos" folder. I'm not sure. I'm also not sure if what I did was enough to backup my photos. I hope so!

Then I got my phone stolen! I thought I had lost all the pictures on my phone, some of them with sentimental value (I know, I know... backups!) Then I was surprised to find Google had automatically backed them up to... Google Photo? Google Drive? I'm not sure. I do know they are not easy to navigate now. I don't remember asking my Android phone to sync my pictures, either. Maybe I did. Who knows?

Nothing about this seems intuitive or trivial to me. I know if I put more effort into this I could understand it, but I honestly don't think I should have to. And I don't think regular non-tech users will find it understandable even if they read the documentation and tutorials.

Google themselves seem to understand it's not exactly clear, which is why they say "some users are confused by [...]".

Thanks for the explanation, really!

Of course I think it's absolutely a mess. (Reading Google documentation is probably the most important thing NOT to do, it just confuses people while generally being completely unhelpful and less than useless.) And this is because Google is a master of failed communication. They just so suck at it, I don't know how can they consistently be so bad at it.

Anyway, the products and the concepts and the engineering and the flow is mind-boggingly simple.

Picasa evolved to Google Photos. The desktop client vanished. There's a Google Photos app, default on [all? most?] Android phones. And it has a backup/sync function, so if you connect your Google account it syncs photos to Google Photos. (This can be disabled, and there are probably countless apps that can/do backup to Google Drive though!)

Google Drive is completely separate, except they added an optional feature pseudo-folder. Which was bound to confuse people. Because [I guess] they exposed the underlying "files" from Google Photos. (Of course they are just blobs on a blobstore and tables in a DB.) So they connected that API/DB from Gphoto to Gdrive, and made it look like files. Which is stupid, because the semantics was never defined/cleared for users who are not somehow imaginary-systems engineers.

I have the same confusion, whenever I see something like this I answer it myself as, two different teams doing just enough to meet their yearly goals.

think of if as drive c:\ and d:\? Everything that is already synced should stay synced... but for how long?

So to address "confusion" with this, they're going to leave users with two separate copies of all their photos which no longer sync so that when you think you deleted a photo you might find it in your account again somewhere else later...

I don't feel like this is a solution that adequately addresses user confusion, but rather arbitrarily introduces it.

How does it currently work if I have sync enabled, then I "delete" a photo in the Google Drive UI? Does it get deleted from Photos too?

And that is why this change is happening, it's confusing to users. Currently, I want say that if you delete a photo in Drive, it will delete it in Photos too?

Yes, they all get deleted from Photos; and in Drive they are moved to Trash. They also get moved to Trash on your phone if sync is on. It's also very hard to unlink Drive and Photos. I can't remember how I did it, but I turned off the feature immediately once I found out how useless it is.

This is a good change. There is no reason to sync them to Drive if Photos's underlying storage is not Drive in the first place, which it sounds like it is not.

I'm confused, we'll have a separate Photos folder somewhere?

That won't sync? I thought just photos on Drive wouldn't sync.

Right now photos sync with google drive. "Once these changes go into effect, this folder will stop receiving updates. It won’t go away; it will just stop syncing with Photos."

Really hope they give users a proper heads up and opt out button like "hey your photos are about to be duplicated do you want to keep the old copies?"

I don't understand this. Lets say I have a 15gb drive limit and 10gb of photos. After this change, will I have 10GB of photos in Google Photos and 10GB of photos in Google Drive, putting me at 20GB total? Or do the duplicated photos not count towards storage limits?

edit: "If you use Backup & Sync to upload photos and videos to Drive and Photos, it will upload a copy to each service, but it will not take up duplicate storage." I assume this applies here too

But is there a new service to sync your photos (outside of Drive)?

Can we switch the URL to https://www.blog.google/products/photos/simplifying-google-p... since that's the announcement for the consumer side of Drive/Photos?

(Disclosure: I work for Google, but commenting here isn't my job)

This needs to be upvoted more for the consumer.

Last part that's unclear, my Pixel auto uploads to Google Photos -- is that changing? (does anyone know?)

If you have photos app installed and enable syncing, there is no change, it will continue to upload your photos. The change is (AFAIK) that they will only show up in photos in the future, not in drive (if you enabled that).

But without that link it will be a lot harder to automatically back up the photos to more storage areas


Dang. That's the one way I've found to get all my photos syncing to a folder on my desktop. I find it very useful to take a picture on my phone and then have it magically appear in my desktop file system later.


> You’ll still be able to use Backup and Sync on Windows or macOS to upload to both services

Wait, I'm confused. The only way I could find to do this before was to enable dumping my photos to Drive and then allow 'Backup and Sync' to sync that folder. I must be missing something.

If HN is confused, imagine the people out there

> I find it very useful to take a picture on my phone and then have it magically appear in my desktop file system later.

I setup a Syncthing app on my phone and aimed it at my photos folder on my device. Once I connected it to the syncthing on my computer, it p2p securely syncs them over the internet, resulting in the same magic effect.

My old alternate to that is Onedrive which has a Camera Upload feature in its app that uploads your photos to a Photos folder in your onedrive which you can have synced to a local folder on your computer.

Same result either way, one is p2p and Open Source, the other is proprietary.

I second this. It works well with android.

Just install this on a windows PC and point it to any folders you either want to upload now, or folders that you want it to watch in the future: https://support.google.com/photos/answer/6193313?co=GENIE.Pl...

For what it's worth, Microsoft now has their own apps integrated with Windows 10 that make it a breeze to sync photos from your phone to your computer. Check out the "Your Phone Companion" app (on iOS and Android).

Sadly Backup and Sync is a buggy mess for me on MacOS. I have one picture apparently that keeps the app spinning and trying to upload but never does. It doesn't fail either. It just keeps spinning. Of course there is no log for me to see which photo the culprit might be (and hence reencode it or move it out from that photo folder)

Thanks a lot!

Unfortunately besides millions of lines of continuous log_decorator.pyo:137 Entering in DoesAutoLaunch(). log_decorator.pyo:137 Returning from DoesAutoLaunch().

there is nothing indicating why the batch process starts and immediately quits and then restarts again.


At least I can delete the 240MB log file now while I search for another service that lets me backup my 75GBs of photos and displays them neatly on an iPad/iPhone.

Yep. I have left mine running for literally weeks (over 25/5 DSL, so not a screaming connection, but perfectly adequate before) and it has not finished syncing a library that was completely synced before. It should be just a metadata update, but somehow it found tens of thousands of photos and videos and is constantly falling over some big movie or Pentax raw file and dying. Total piece of crap.

I tried my luck with that too, trying to upload my iCloud library from my Mac to google photos. It is a giant pile of shit.

I went ahead and wrote a simple app that reads iCloud metadata and uploads directly to Google Photos API. It synced everything in a day.

I dont understand how did they manage to mess this up so bad.

Sounds like it won't automatically sync to Drive so you might have to manually share the photo to Drive. Sounds like it adds a button press to your use case but then you can delete the photo from the phone without deleting it everywhere.

If you are up to self-hosting, Nextcloud has this feature as well :)

And if you don't want to self-host Dropbox does this out of the box.

I haven't tried this, but you could probably getting syncing to work with Dropbox. Everytime I install Dropbox on my phone, I get asked if I'd like to sync my photos, and Dropbox pan-device syncing has always been pretty seamless for me.

You can continue to dump your files, including photos, to a Drive folder and have them sync. Google Photos was the service that Drive nagged you with to store you photos in instead of a Google Drive folder.

OneDrive does a perfectly acceptable job of this.

I have a nightmare story regarding this. I went on a two-week vacation and took a bunch of photos, and unknowingly had the "automatically sync on WiFi" option turned on. Well, at one point in time I did intentionally enable that, but forgot since I hadn't used the Google Photos app in over a year. Anyway, I get back from my vacation and realize I haven't received a personal email in the last 10 days. It took me a while to figure out Google Photos used up all my Drive storage, which then caused ALL my emails to silently bounce. No message or warning from Google that I had reached my storage limit, and of course there was no way to recover my lost emails.

When I read this title, I immediately assumed they were eliminating the "free unlimited ("high quality") photo storage for android users". I expected this because recent advertising for the Pixel 3A explicitly advertised that as a feature - so I thought it might be going away for non-pixel-owners.

Instead, after reading the article, I am just confused. I have no idea which photos are on drive and which are on photos - are they going to count double towards my used storage?

Regardless, I'm happy to have all my photos backed up elsewhere. And maybe this is the last piece of motivation I need to finish setting up a self-hosted cloud - storage is certainly cheap enough.

Earlier I think they were just surfacing the same photos in both places without using up storage (that would be a pretty shitty feature). Pointless, perhaps, but harmless, and maybe useful for those who wanted to be able to use driver's more sophisticated organizational capabilities.

As far as the change, I can't imagine it will suddenly start counting against your quota. They're just stopping the behavior of syncing between the two folders.

I'm not surprised this is happening. This is partly why I never permitted Google to put my photos in their Google Photos solution. My photos are _files_, with file extensions, taking up varying sizes, belonging inside of folders. Google Photos treated them as higher level items in some SaaS product, like posts on Instagram or something. If you wanted archival -- true archival -- then you shouldn't store your media in Google Photos any more than you should store it on a facebook timeline.


I'm already planning to get off ChromeOS (unscrew the write protect screw!) and Google services, but this takes it one point further.

If they remove this option, they should better integrate Google Photos with Chromebooks. Chromebooks have somewhat buggy Drive integration, but it's there. Android at least have it better, because if you can select files from Drive, you can do the same with Photos. GMail finally has proper integration with it.

I also used the integration to move some photos to Photos, because it is was easy on a Chromebook.

With current resource hungry GMail, Maps and Photos low end Chromebooks are almost unbearable. And that was supposed to be their niche.

DO NOT use google photos. it is complete and utter trash.

there is no way to download all your photos once they are "backed up" to google.

if they called it "transfer to google" that would be fine, but using the terminology "back up" which implies an ability to "restore" is a class-action in the waiting. the app actively deletes the photos from your phone, puts them into their cloud app, and then you are forced to interface with the cloud app to actually do anything with them.

i have years of my life "backed up" into google photos and no way to download them to a computer for printing, editing, sorting, etc, except one by one!

the only pseudo-official way to get all of them was via drive, and it already fails for large collections (i haven't read why they are discontinuing it but maybe something related).

are you kidding me? thanks google.

What about google takeout - https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout

thanks for the link, will try this!

for anyone on (iOS) thinking about dumping google photos do it now, before it's too late.

without even looking at this article and post if have been migrating off google to iOS. i have over 13,000 photos and videos in google photos that i tried to "take out" this weekend and move over to icloud:

-the take out process gave me 3 zip files with total size of 108gb when only 80gb are actual images/videos. there is essentially 2x .json files for each picture that google adds their own data to

-the takeout process absolutely breaks live photos. the 3MB originals become 200K stills.

- the take out process creates .mov files which are not importable into photos/iclouds

- the take out process creates .jpg files which are not importable into photos/iclouds, they're full size pictures but the only .jpg that works is a duplicate at fraction of original size.

- out of over 13K "take out" files i was only able to import a little over 11K, what happened to the 2K images i have no idea, i don't even know how to parse through them, with all of the extra.json files all over the place it's an effing mess.

i tried also downloading directly from photos apps. after it "creating a zip" archive for me about 6x in 8 hours and constantly failing i did notice that my browser tried to download over 60 individual 2gb zip files, a complete mess that never did work out.

i finally got the back up & sync option working (the one that's actually going away) and was able to sync, overnight, all 13K images and videos to my desktop. there are no extra json files and all live photos seem to be exactly as they were.

tonight i'll be deleting the 11K photos from icloud and re-importing the clean 13K files i downloaded through backup&sync last night, I hope it goes much smoother.

i think this is intentional lock-in by google, as long as you use the google photos app on ios it shows you all images just fine, along with live photos, but what you forget is that you no longer own these photos, not in bulk anyways. as soon as you try to take them out you get crippled versions on there and you see the level of privacy invasion that google take your photos to (by adding their own tag data through .json files).

if you have a lot of images invested in google but are not on the android platform really do consider getting out now.

There is, at least until July 10, 2019. The officially documented method was to enable the Google Photos folder in Google Drive and just download everything from Google Drive. Its documented at https://support.google.com/photos/answer/7652919

After July 10, 2019 it seems like https://photos.google.com/apps and https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout might be the only options.

the first method has several documented glitches -- like photos you've imported but didn't take on your phone may be missing, linked accounts are excluded, etc. and the whole process feels broken, there is no indication when the sync from photos to drive is complete (it can take days), i could go on.

I see no reason to use Google photos. Having a cloud back up is nice, but I'm the kind of person who wants to locally encrypt anything personal backed up to a server outside of my control. I assume Google trawls through every photo you upload using facial recognition to ID everyone in them, identifying what products are in the photos, making guesses about your economic status and habits etc. No need to hand over the intimate moments of my life, my friends, and my family to help google build a better dossier.

I'm not sure what you mean. If I go to photos.google.com, I can easily select a range of photos (Shift-Click to select an entire range) and download them all as a zip folder.

i encourage you to try this with thousands of photos; the list is lazy-loaded so it's not even possible to select them all.

This is a good thing.

I've had an ongoing support ticket with Google One for the last six weeks about syncing. The entire process is just broken.

I have a normal-ish workflow; take photos with my camera, process on my MBP and export to a folder that Google Backup and Sync is meant to sync with Photos.

What actually happens is some files sync and others don't, GBaS then informs me "15 files couldn't be added to Photos, they are in your Google Drive taking up 45mb" and gives me a list of files. No info on what went wrong, no error, no clue. Then I'm left to manually pick up what's left. But the problem isn't with 'my' stuff, I send the photos to Google and they're meant to organise them. That all works, the problem lies between Photos and Drive.

It's frustrating because individually, both are fine. I'd go as far to say as Photos is great. But give me a tool dedicated to photos please Google.

> We heard feedback that users were confused by the connection between Photos and Drive.


> Currently, G Suite users can choose to sync Photos to Drive. This means that when they upload a file to Photos, it’s automatically uploaded to the Google Photos folder in Drive. Once these changes go into effect, this folder will stop receiving updates. It won’t go away; it will just stop syncing with Photos.

How does this solution solve the problem stated above!? Have they done any actual user research on this? Surely there is a better UX to solve for this rather than just totally severing the connection between Photos and Drive. I am glad to hear that my photos won't be lost in this.

I'm sure a vast majority of Google Photos users are mobile only, and so this change will be more or less invisible. But, jeez. You'd think this whole issue could be resolved with a single helpful tooltip...

> Since photos and videos will no longer sync across both products, items copied in Original Quality will count towards your storage quota in both Drive and Photos.

This is absolutely ridiculous, I feel that they should have just continued the idea that photos is a view layer on top of storage. Now I guess I'll just have to give them more money for more storage now that all my photos will double count towards my quota if I choose to use both services.

According to the consumer announcement

> If you use Backup & Sync to upload photos and videos to Drive and Photos, it will upload a copy to each service, but it will not take up duplicate storage.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but how will photos taken on my phone, and uploaded to Google Photos, be synced to Google Drive now? Backup and Sync seems to only deal with files on a Mac/Windows (yikes) client syncing to Drive/Photos, not the other way around?

I think the point of the announcement is to tell you that they won't be synced to google drive now.

Proving once and for all that the proper answer to "but people love our products" is "until you shut them down, you utterly useless twats".

Android to Google Drive to Desktop photo sync was one of the few things that actually worked perfectly, which I set up for family members. Now I have to explain to them why their expensive phone, laptop and desktop can't fucking copy a picture from one to the other. But I'm sure there's some shitty, intolerable Fischer-Price web UI in which you can't do jack.

Wow, I can't really see a reason for Google to implement this change. Now photos are locked on Google Photos with no simple way of creating backups on a local machine via Google Drive?

Yeah, their FAQ just says: "To download all your items from Google Photos, you can use the Download your data page."

This feels pretty gross to me. I can understand them wanting to make the separation clearer, but they should have had a sync solution in place first.

I guess they really want you to use Google Takeout instead of accessing the files directly :/

I guess it was nice while it worked, but this is another nail in my Google account coffin.

I think this is the real reason after all.

So... Can we get Picasa back?

No kidding, now Google provides no method at all for mass syncing photos back down?

Is this a pivot to leverage photos for ecosystem lock-in?

I think only takeout does it, unfortunately.

I have used a phone=>Photos=>Drive=>computer setup for several less technical people to have their photos sync from their phones to computers automatically so they can use local apps to browse and edit them.

I guess I'll have to migrate them to some other scheme...

That's exactly our gsuite workflow. Support technicians take pictures on their phones and we use synology cloud sync to backup the Photo folder on Google Drive to our the home folder on our file server.

Since I haven't seen it mentioned yet:


is a command-line tool (in Python) that downloads (incrementally) your Google Photos content directly using the Photos API, not through Drive. I just set it up recently.

The two main caveats are the lack of location info and that it won't re-download photos that have been edited.

That’s literally the only reason I picked Google over anyone else. Switching to iCloud I guess. I have mentioned this before - it’s not about privacy. One mistake is what it takes to either them blocking you or you locking yourself out of your account. The only safeguard is to keep a downloaded copy that’s accessible. I do that with Photos+Drive sync. Similarly for email, contacts ...etc. Google is stripping away that.

The problem with iCloud Photos is that you can't share albums with non-Apple users.

My main issue with iCloud Photos is that there's no way to disable auto-upload. The idea of every photo I being uploaded in an instant to iCloud is such a deal breaker for me.

As far as I can tell there's no option which can replace the Google Drive + Google Photos functionality they are deprecating here.

You can, actually! You have to use the custom URL that is generated.

That makes the album visible to everyone who has the URL, not just to specific users. On top of that, it's impossible to change the URL.

Biggest Google Photos API (replacing this for backup use cases) complaint is that geotags are stripped.

Gah, yes, I hate this. We are discussing workarounds (other than associating with your Google Location History) here: https://github.com/mholt/timeliner/issues/38

Google Photos API bug report (not that it'll do anything): https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/80379228

Please don't do this. You are not actually solving any problems with this change. You are simply making it more difficult for users to backup/sync their photos.

I use this daily. I am a big fan of Google Photos currently but that may quickly change if this is implemented. I currently use rclone on Linux to backup my Google Photos. It is great and I can modify or delete my photos from any device within Google Photos and then have the changes synced to my desktop and backup service. What you are doing will make it a lot more difficult to backup my pictures or keep a copy saved locally.

Anyone looking for alternatives- I've been using Flickr pro and loving it. It's cheap, no longer requires a yahoo auth, and works really well.

I initially resisted when they changed their pricing scheme and set up my own "self hosted" solution. After about 5 months of this I decided I missed Flickr and that it was worth the 60$ a year or whatever(I honestly don't know).

Not affiliated in any way but I do hope they get more customers and stick around, it's a good service.

Flickr's a decent alternative to Google Photos but is not comparable to the combination of Google Drive + Google Photos.

The combination they're deprecating is not offered anywhere else.

Can you explain what the benefit of syncing between google photos and drive is? Is it just another backup?

It means I primarly use Google Photos and seamlessly have every photo in Google Photos backed up on my NAS at home with no extra work. I also prefer my photos to be organized in a folder structure (which I've also automated) and the Drive integration lets me do this.

Long answer: https://medium.com/swlh/my-automated-photo-workflow-using-go...

Hmm, this seems similar to what I do with Flickr.

I have my NAS mounted to my MacBook where I process photos and transfer them to my NAS, the Flickr auto uploadr puts them up on Flickr. I wish this would be possible from my NAS which may be something I am missing.

I suppose you lose the ability to go from Phone -> GPhotos -> Gdrive -> NAS. I'll check out the medium post when I'm home though.

Is there a site where people can bet when do Google shutdown products? I'm curious what's the o/u on Stadia right now

I don’t know of such a site, but there is one collating information about all the products and services killed by Google. It’s called...Killed by Google! [1]

[1]: https://killedbygoogle.com/

They seem to be spending a lot of money on Stadia, but they spent big on advertising Allo too.

I may be one of the only people on Earth who miss Allo. I started using it with one of my friends when our SMSs kept dropping and we both got addicted to the ability to google things inline and both see the same results. Really added something to the conversation. We also sent a lot of pictures (1000+) so maybe we contributed to it getting shut down.

I expect MS and Sony to eat Google's lunch on Stadia, but we'll see. If it's successful it would be amazing for the linux gaming community, since all games on it would have Vulkan support at some level. I wonder what will happen to the games people bought if it gets shut down.

Please don't post snark that's completely irrelevant to the article.

It is kinda relevant since there's at least 17 google services biting the dust this year.

I wonder if now it is good time to start a service which helps you host all important stuff - mail, picture books, contacts - and so on with offline backups which are under your control. Essentially ship me a tape every 6 months or so which has all my content, encrypted at rest.

I've been using NextCloud hosted on my personal NAS, and recently even switched over to using a todo manager that uses CalDAV so I can use my NextCloud server for personal task management. Backups are done through restic to a couple cloud providers, and honestly this is the hardest part to get user friendly because there's no UI (yes, I know Relica exists but I don't want to pay monthly for it and use my own storage).

At this point everything (files & photos, calendar, contacts) but my email (which is with FastMail) is self hosted or backed up on my NAS (and consequently, the cloud storage backup). Home automation is also all done through Home Assistant and local Z-Wave devices (I used SmartThings way back when, but switched to HA).

Though it's not easy enough for non-tech-literate people to do, I think it's close. Maybe a hosted NextCloud instance + auto backups would be good enough for most people.

This is an interesting idea. Do you have longer form post which explains how someone can set this up? Also how do you protect your NAS over the internet? I am not extremely concerned about security, but some network layer security will be good to have. I will be keen to know more about your setup.

On it! :) See my comment on this page, would love to have more maintainers than just myself: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20166539 - I've been using that for my stuff for about 6 months now.

I will check it out.

Not sure about export, but linked recently on HN. (Android app available)


See my comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20180775. Not sure yet another web based service is the answer here I am afraid.

I'm considering Librem One, I hope their cloud storage is picture-friendly, and easy to backup.

It is an interesting idea. Few things I am worried about is - US & China have regressive laws when it comes to internet - patriot act for example. So ideally I dont want my data in someone else's hands who might be bound by laws that I am not aware of. With the way twitter is censoring content of Indian right wing, I am now a days extremely paranoid about using any internet based services, which includes librem.

Much as I loathe Google's ADHD, I've had more than one female friend call me in a panic after finding out their nudes were ending up on Google Drive with no action on their part and they couldn't get photo upload to turn off and stay off.

They're still getting uploaded to cloud storage on Google Photos. What's the difference? Is Google Photos somehow more private?

Isn't it just for paying G Suite customers?

I see they are going the Photos for the Mac and iCloud Drive route. Meh. It makes sense but it was a feature for Google Drive. Now it just seems like an annoyance for people to try to deduplicate their Photos.

So if I understand this correctly, you now have to explicitly put photos you obtained outside of your Google devices (and therefore stored in Google Drive) into Google Photos, a service that lets you share / view photos.

This change makes sense to me because it mirrors what I do on my computer, but it seems like a step back from the idea that mobile and desktop/laptop paradigms are supposed to be merging. It seems like that’s what they were trying to do, but it was too confusing so they changed it.

This disappointes me.

I finally got my home backup system setup to my liking, and it's super simple and requires little to no effort on upkeep:

1. Google Photos synced to Google Drive. 2. Google Backup & Sync installed on the computer. 3. Backblaze Personal Backup software installed on the computer.

Every time I take a picture, edit a document, etc., it's automatically and effortlessly synced to Backblaze.

I had a Linux Box with Restic installed, but required more effort than I wanted to put in.

Now I'm going to have to rethink how I backup my 40k+ photos.

This is pretty confusing.

What I'm doing at the moment is I use foldersync on all my devices, basically mine and my wife's mobile phones.

But I sync the photos onto gdrive. It's only later that I discovered photos automatically looks through your gdrive and shows you your timeline and does fancy, spooky face recognition.

Which is working at the moment, but will this flow be affected? Sounds like maybe not as they are talking about some sort of separate photos storage that goes to gdrive, not the other way.

As far as I can tell, this announcement is _only_ referring to GSuite users (i.e, work accounts). Their rationale explicitly calls out "consumers" (i.e Gmail/personal accounts) as having a different use case. I don't believe it will apply to end users, unless you've got a personal GSuite account for your own custom domain.

The non-GSuite announcement is here (as linked from the linked article):


Damnit :(

The Apple ecosystem welcomes you with open arms.

I store every photo and video I’ve ever taken [hundreds of GBs, first photos are from my teens in high school circa 1997] in Apple Photos; highly recommend it. Yes, you pay a bit for the storage. Yes, it’s a closed ecosystem. Yes, I also backup my originals to Backblaze. But deprecation, ever, is highly unlikely while the UX is top notch. More good things coming for photos in iOS 13!

How does the Apple Ecosystem allow me to backup photos from iCloud photo storage to my Synology NAS?

Because Drive integration for Photos allowed me to do exactly that. Last I checked iCloud will lock down all my photos onto a platform that's not even accessible on Linux.

My solution to that very problem is to just use a third party app to sync to my NAS. I can't use Time Machine since my Macbook Pro doesn't have my full library downloaded to it (when will Apple ever start with 512 GB SSDs in their laptops...).

I have iCloud Photos and pay for it, but I want to make sure I have a local backup too so I use NextCloud to sync to my NAS (which is running a NextCloud instance). You could also use the Plex app, or there's things like Resilio Sync that can auto-upload photos.

I'm not aware of an open source solution for auto-upload other than NextCloud (and possibly OwnCloud, but I don't use it), but I wouldn't be surprised if there was one somewhere or an app that did auto-backup to SMB/CIFS/WevDAV/whatever

Yeah, I guess I'll switch to Synology Moments, but it's still significantly more hassle than using the nice Google Photos app and having a rather hassle free local backup.

Time Machine. My Synology NAS backs up (including Time Machine data for all of our family MacOS devices stored on the NAS) to Backblaze B2.

“Lock down” is hyperbole. You can mount Apple filesystems (including the one storing your photo library) from a Linux workstation or server over the network.

I admit that if you’re looking for an open API for photo management, iCloud is not for you. But it works for most people.

How does a photo storing system where I can't share pictures with my Android owning grandmother "work for most people"? Are my family members who didn't give out money to Apple good enough to share my life experiences with?

https://www.chriswrites.com/share-icloud-photos-non-apple-de... (How to Share your iCloud Photos with non-Apple Devices)

I share my Apple Photo albums with android users without issue. I hope this was helpful despite your snark. I’m just trying to help.

Or if you'd prefer to host your own media, SyncThing!


Not as good as Apple Photos unfortunately (for photos and video), and I say this as a proponent of SyncThing [1]. On device facial recognition, album sharing and syncing, etc.

Most people’s time is worth paying for something that just works.


I used syncthing for a while but I found it was murdering my CPU. Didn't bother trying to solve that problem - just uninstalled it since the value it was providing me was less than any troubleshooting effort would have been.

I second this. Syncthing has gotten to the point where it just works, and if it doesn't ever just work (once/twice a month if that), a restart of the syncthing service clears it all up.

I have my own self-hosted system for archiving photos. It's not as fancy, and smooth as iCloud, but it works with my 28+ megapixel cameras and their massive raw files.

Occasionally a drive will fail and need to be replaced, or a photo will disappear or be corrupted by gnomes, but I don't mind tinkering with it.

My wife, on the other hand, is an iCloud devotee, and has almost 200GB of photos backed up to iCloud. Pretty much every photo she's taken on every one of her iDevices since the iPhone launched. It has never lost a photo. It automatically tags everything. It automatically syncs to her computer and iPad. She can access it from anywhere.

If there was a sane way for me to import and manage 30TB of raw photos in iPhoto, I might follow her lead.

I use Google Photos because I can't share iCloud photo albums with non-Apple users. The same is true for many other Apple services.

It never worked really on my side. It's clunky internally and I think a lot of corner cases are not well tested.

The worst part is that Google Photos is a dead end. Like put photos into a hole which you can only edit with Google internal tools. Not ideal for all creators and more professional photographers although I'm a big fan of Google Photos.

It's not the most reliable but it worked pretty well.

The Google Drive sync they're deprecating today is what made Google Photos not a 'dead end'. I've been using it for 3 years and am really bummed that this means I'll have to give up using both Drive and Photos.

Does anyone know if Photos is actually profitable for Google or is it just a loss leader to get people on the Google platform? It's really hard to understand how they can support a service that allows unlimited photo uploads. Makes me wonder if they will need to charge for it someday in the future.

Seems like an opportunity to write a Lambda function or similar to sync your photos using their respective APIs. I wonder if there are any web hooks available for Photos that you could set to trigger the function or if it would just need to run every 15 minutes or something.

I have an Android One phone. When I take video, it appears only in Google Photos, but cannot be played, says it's processing. Doesn't matter what platform or browser, the video can only be downloaded, not played within Photos. https://support.google.com/photos/thread/66336?hl=en

Google Photos is terrible. Bad UI. Bad organization. Slow. And useless for videos.

I'm wondering how this affects Chromebook users? Uploading photos off a USB stick already isn't easy.

But the only way I've found to attach a google photo to a gmail email is via the drive folder? Now what?

This means rclone will stop working. Thanks for the reason to push me to move away from gphotos and gmail...

One big missing feature in photos is OCR. In drive you can search images by the text in them.

... oh man.... So trade features to prevent confusion.... not a fan of that..

Is there a better free alternative or should I just pay for iCloud?

I recently switched back (again) to iOS from Android and the backend was so painful, I decided to pay for iCloud and have things backed up, swearing never to go away from iOS again (still think it's a better platform after multiple switches back and forth).

Really happy with it so far. Simplest way I've found to be able to get my photos and other stuff synced between multiple devices + family and friends (through shared albums)

Thanks for your perspective! I'm not leaving iOS anytime soon so iCloud is indeed my best option.

It all depends on how much money your time is worth.

If you have more time than money, look for an open source alternative.

If you have more money than time, iCloud is the answer.

Solid and simple advice. iCloud away!

Microsoft OneDrive isn't too bad, and copies photos fine without stripping data.

For family plans, Google/Apple both run 30 bucks/year for 200 GB shared by up to 6 people.

Comparable MS is 100/year for 6x1 TB, with Office thrown in.

(Just spent a few minutes looking this up earlier today. Have all three free tiers, use MS most.)

iCloud Drive and iCloud Photos are good Google Drive or Google Photos replacements but it does not offer the sync functionality which Google's deprecating in this announcement.

You're not gaining much in functionality with iCloud than you would with just paying for Google Drive now that they've made this change.

This feature is (ab)used heavily by pirate video/image sites

I can't wait to stop using Google services.

Complete - all Google stuff backed up - replacement/self service path identified - explain to friends and family over past year or two

Incomplete - libre phone - protonmail 50% - Non internet regular digital camera (older)

I hear this every day on HN and i'm with you, but I still appreciate how much Google have given us with Android/Gmail/Search etc over the years

They could have at least kept the option for people who want this feature, and turned off Cloud sync by default. Just removing the whole feature seems excessive.

I used to use google photos. But then, I found that it was building facial profiles of every one in my pictures, and creating "albums" thereof. I didn't ask for that, and it's creepy as all get-out. Good-bye, google photos.

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