Google Photos Backup is gone, now it’s Google Backup and Sync

The transition from Google Photos Backup to Google Backup and Sync has been going on for a while, but Google recently sent out an email informing us that Google Photos Backup will stop working completely on May 12.  We first covered this in Episode 125 of our “Button” show, Google Photos, what’s new? And, again in Episode 138: Google Photos: How to include pictures from your computer. And, here is the official help page on Backup and Sync.

What you need to know

  1. This only affects your computer, not your mobile devices. Backup and Sync is the desktop software that will automatically upload photos from your computer’s drives to your Google account in the cloud.
  2. You only need this if you have a lot of photos on your computer. If you just have a few, it is easy to manually upload them to your Google Photos account, don’t bother with Backup and Sync. If you have been using Google Photos backup (aka Desktop Uploader) then all your current photos are already uploaded. My advice would be to discontinue any automatic uploading and use the easy manual methods from now on.
  3. If you do have thousands of pictures on your computer that you want uploaded to your Google Photos account, then you want the free piece of software called Google Backup and Sync. It replaces the older free software called Google Photos Backup. Now that Picasa’s uploading capability has been removed, Backup and Sync is your only automatic option.
  4. The biggest difference between the old Google Photos Backup and the new Backup and Sync is that Backup and Sync is not just for Google Photos, it is primarily a Google Drive utility. Any files uploaded will go to Google Drive, they will also go to Google Photos IF you check the box to upload to Google Photos. You can choose to upload at High Resolution to avoid using up any of your storage allotment even on Google Drive. Also, the new software will Sync, not just Backup. That means that you can also set it up to download your Google Photos pictures to your computer.

If you have pictures on your computer that need to uploaded using Backup and Sync, we do have a member video 500.GP-Install Backup and Sync for Windows   Non-members can watch episode 138.

How to use Backup and Sync

First, you download it from and install it. You will be prompted for the email address and password for your Google account, then for the folders you want to upload. I recommend starting small to see how it works. You can uncheck Desktop, My Documents, and Pictures, then use the Choose Folder button to just select one folder. Once you get the idea, you probably do want to upload the Pictures folder, but not the Desktop and Documents.

Once you click start, it will begin uploading pictures from the selected folders. From now on, you will see a tiny cloud icon in your systray (lower right on windows, upper right on Mac) click on that and you can view the progress as well as click the 3-dot menu to return to Preferences and change the folders to upload.

The Sync part

Realize that this software is not just Backup like the old one, this is Backup and Sync. So, what is getting sync’ed? First of all, you can synchronize deletions. There’s a setting for that, it’s called “Removing items” as in the screenshot below.

Click the dropdown arrow and you’ll see 3 choices:

  1. Remove items everywhere
  2. Don’t remove items everywhere
  3. Ask me before removing items everywhere

And, what does everywhere mean? Computer, Google Photos, and Google Drive. Actually, deleting from either Google Photos or Google Drive will delete from the other regardless of your setting. The setting just refers to the computer. With “Remove items everywhere” if you delete from computer, it will delete from Drive and Photos; if you delete from Drive or Photos, it will delete from computer.

Sync also means edits. Let’s say you use a desktop photo editor to crop a photo that is in a folder being watched by Backup and Sync. The crop will sync to Google Drive, but in the Computers section, not the My Drive or Google Photos. Sorry, I can’t explain that other than to say, “I told you this was primarily a Google Drive utility!”

My Laptop vs Google Drive

You should have noticed by now that there are 3 items in the left sidebar:

  1. My Laptop (yours may say My Computer or My Mac) This is where you specify files on your computer that you want uploaded to Google Drive. When photos are first uploaded they can also go to Google Photos if that option is checked.
  2. Google Drive: This is where you specify files already in the cloud, on Google Drive, that you want to be downloaded/sync’ed to a Drive folder on your computer.
  3. Settings where you can change the account being used

Yes, it’s complex but don’t let that stop you

It’s easy to set it to do just what you want.

  1. You want it to do just what the old Google Photos backup did, automatically backup your computer’s pictures to the cloud:
    just use the My Laptop (my computer) section. Check the folder where all your pictures are. Set Remove items to “Don’t remove from everywhere” Make sure the box is checked to upload newly added photos and videos to Google Photos
  2. You want to get all your Google Photos from the cloud to your computer:
    -First, you’ll need to turn on the Google Drive setting (, settings) to Create a Google Photos folder. This takes some time, but you will end up with a Google Photos folder underneath My Drive
    -Second, in the Backup and Sync settings use the Google Drive section, Sync only these folders, and select the Google Photos folder
    -see this forum discussion where a user accomplished this for a little more detail

Please leave comments with your questions and we’ll continue the discussion.


9 replies on “Google Photos Backup is gone, now it’s Google Backup and Sync”

  1. QUESTION: I still have my photos on Picasa (several hundred). I back them up periodically. Are they still “safe” on Picasa? Can any entity other than myself remove them or destroy them?


  2. Are my pictures (several hundreds) that are still on Picasa in any danger of being removed by Picasa, Google, or any other entity other than myself ?

    • First, we need to clarify what you mean by “Pictures ON Picasa” – Picasa is software on your computer and does not store your photos. It sees photos that are stored in folders on your computer’s hard drive. NO, those pictures are not in danger of removal by any entity but you. You may be referring to the old Picasa Web Albums which stored your photos online – that has been replaced by Google Photos and any photos that were originally uploaded to Picasa Web Albums are now in Google Photos for the same Google account. they also will not be deleted.

  3. Unfortunately it does not provide a way to create an album for every folder you have. It will do it in drive but not photos. You must manually do it. Picasa use to allow this

    • That is absolutely true. Google Photos is one giant stream of photos sorted by date. Google Drive, in the My Computer section is a mirror of the folders you’ve specified on your computer.

  4. I’m with urodoc45, now I have a lot of Microsoft PCs in my studio but I use a lot of Chromebooks, Box & Base but you just can not beat the Chromebook for a lot of today’s photos taken with a phone.

  5. I have been reading your posts diligently and have learned a lot about Google Photos (GP) since I use GP and Google Cloud storage for all my pictures. I use Chromebook to download all my images on SD card and GP editing which is getting better gradually.
    The above article about the download/sync will be a moot question for those of us using Chromebook. I wonder why you do not cover Chromebook functionality instead of only a Window PC and Mac for Photo storage and editing. Granted Chromebook does not have Lightroom or Photoshop functionality. However, I find GP’s built in editing software fairly good for great # of users.
    Thank you.

    • I love my Chromebook too! It’s not included in the Backup and Sync article because it really doesn’t apply – you won’t have photos stored on your Chromebook, so there is no need for the automatic backup and sync. I agree that I should mention Chromebook more in other uses of Google Photos. Especially Chromebooks that can run Android Apps – I love using Snapseed with Google Photos on my Chromebook.

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