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Google will simplify the way Photos and Drive sync, but it's still confusing

It's going to go from "really confusing" to just "confusing." But hey, that's progress.

Published onJune 12, 2019

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  • On July 10, Google will change the way Google Photos and Google Drive work together.
  • The Google Photos folder within Drive will no longer automatically sync with Google Photos.
  • Your current files will remain intact, but new files will need to be manually synced.

If you use both Google Photos and Google Drive, you likely know that the two services are linked together. There’s a Google Photos folder within Drive that acts almost like a bridge between the two.

The idea is that your Drive folder called Google Photos automatically syncs to the service with the same name. However, this syncing process can cause unexpected file deletion and the fact that the folder and the Google Photos service have the same name makes things even more confusing.

Luckily, Google is going to simplify the situation, at least a little bit. Starting July 10, the Google Photos folder in Drive will no longer automatically sync with the Google Photos service. Instead, the Google Photos folder will be its own thing.

Google says it is making this change due to consumer feedback. Users claimed that the system was confusing and led to some accidentally deleting photos and videos from the Drive folder not knowing that the file would also get deleted from Google Photos (or vice versa).

How to use Google Drive: Everything you need to know
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The company is also introducing a new feature to the Google Photos desktop app called Upload from Drive, which allows you to manually choose files from Google Drive to add to Photos. Once copied, the files are not connected; in other words, if you delete a photo in Drive it will not delete its copy in Photos or vice versa.

This creates a new confusion though which is that photos and videos at original quality now will count towards both your storage quotas, i.e., if a photo at original quality is 20MB in size, you will lose 20MB of space in both Google Photos and Google Drive, for a total of 40MB of space (assuming you use the Upload from Drive feature).

However, there is a way to avoid this double-dipping, which is to use the Backup & Sync desktop tool for Windows or macOS. If you use this tool to backup a file at original quality to both services, it will only apply once.

Confused? Like we said, Google is simplifying things a little bit, but it’s still certainly not streamlined.

Luckily, one thing about all of this is very straightforward: when July 10 comes along, all your current files in both Google Drive and Google Photos will remain unchanged. The update on July 10 will only apply to new media uploaded to the services.

What do you think? Is this better or worse than before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

NEXT: The beginner’s guide to Google Photos

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