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Google Photos backs up your photos even if you delete the app

A report has revealed that Google Photos will continue to backup your photos even after you delete the app, leading to security and privacy concerns.

Published onJuly 14, 2015

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If you decided to try out Google Photos when it was launched last month but decided it wasn’t for you, the app will keep uploading your photos to the service unless you disable the backup from the Google Settings menu.

As spotted by Nashville Business Journal writer David Arnott, Google Photos uses Android’s Google Settings menu to determine whether to backup your photos which means if you’ve deleted the app but not disabled the option, you’ll find your pictures are still being uploaded to Google Photos.

Disabling the upload – which many found concerning as Google stores its images using supposedly “unguessable” public URLs – requires you to head over to the centralised Google Settings Menu in Android and turn off the “Google Photo Backup” option, otherwise you’ll find the pictures from your phone are still being uploaded to the web. You’ll need to do this even if you’ve deleted the app and this confusion is just one example of a user experience fail thanks to Google’s own applications.

Arnott says he chose to continue using Flickr – instead of Google Photos – as he was already sharing several Flickr accounts with his family and didn’t want them to have to learn a new method of accessing photos. In response to Arnott’s concerns, Google said that the photo backup was “working as intended” which is technically true but disabling the auto backup is definitely intuitive and its unlikely that users will be aware of the way backups are managed.

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We’ve been able to replicate the issue with images appearing on Google Photos even after deleting the app and disabling Google Drive and Google Plus on our device. Have you found that Google Photos continues to upload your images? What do you think of Google’s policy of continuing to backup your photos even if you clearly don’t want to use the service? Let us know your views in the comments below.

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