Questions about Google Drive breaking up with Google Photos

I wrote a recent article called What’s Happening with Google Drive and Google Photos, where I tried to clarify Google’s announcement that they’re Changing how Google Drive and Google Photos work together. My intention was to calm fears. The sync between Drive and Photos is not essential to how Photos works. In fact, by default, the sync settings are off. Unless you have turned on either of the 2 settings involved, then this change does not affect you at all.

So, I was surprised when I received a few questions from panicked people.

I don’t understand what I must now do to automatically store my pictures safely, and to have access to them within the limited storage space on my phone. Please clarify what I must do quickly!

I received this note from Google photos about upcoming changes. What do I need to do, if anything?

You’re probably not affected

Nothing is changing about how the Google Photos app works. Your photos are all being uploaded to Google Photos from your phone. That is where they are stored, for free, and they will continue to be stored there. They will still be accessible from all your devices and shared with your designated partner. 

Google Drive is a separate service, mainly for storing files other than photos. Documents, spreadsheets, slideshows. Google Drive has been around a lot longer than Google Photos. The two products have had some overlapping areas. The breakup on July 10 is intended to show that Google Photos is now completely independent – it’s left the nest if you will.

Before the breakup

Google Photos setting: Sync photos and videos from Google Drive

This setting means that IF you ever uploaded or saved photos directly to Google Drive, they will appear in Google Photos. If you have never specifically saved photos to Google Drive, this will not affect you at all.

Google Drive Setting: Create a Google Photos folder in My Drive

This setting meant that all photos in Google Photos ALSO showed up in Drive – in the cloud. Some people depended on that because there are things you can do with photos in Drive that you can’t just using Google Photos. Two examples:

  1. A photo stored in Drive can be embedded in some other web page.
  2. Photos stored in Drive can be automatically synced down to a computer using the Backup and Sync software on Windows or Mac

You can leave the setting on and your photos will continue going to both places until they turn it off. After that, no new photos will be showing up in Drive, but they will all still go to Google Photos.

After the breakup

The 2 settings that connected Drive to Photos will be gone.

  1. You won’t be able to send photos from Google Photos to Google Drive.
  2. You won’t be able to automatically get all photos from Google Drive in Google Photos. They do promise to give us a process to import selected photos from Drive to Photos.

Who does this affect?

There are people, lots of them actually, who want to have all their Google Photos automatically downloaded to their computer. With the current settings, they could automatically collect all Google Photos in a folder in Google Drive, then, using the Backup and Sync software for Windows 10 or Mac, that folder could be synced down to their computer.

This method of getting photos from phone to computer will no longer be possible. You can still view your photos from the computer at but they are not stored on the hard drive, they’re in the cloud.

If this affects you, what should you do?

You need to find an alternate method for your secondary backup. Dropbox or OneDrive can do this nicely. I use Microsoft OneDrive.

Any other questions? Leave a comment below.


One reply

Comments are closed.