Google Photos seems like a handy place to store your images online. However, things get a little more complicated when it comes to updating or downloading them from the cloud and maintaining your personal privacy.
At The Photo Managers, we recommend you steer clear of Google’s photo cloud storage when possible. That said, we know it’s a popular and convenient tool. For some, it may be the best option they have.
We don’t recommend using Google Photos to build your photo hub or as your only backup source. But if you’re using it to organize and share your digital photo collection, here’s what you need to know.
What Happens When You Upload Images to Google Photos
When you upload your images to Google Photos, the platform stores them as it receives them. This means any file names and metadata associated with the original photo stay with the image when you upload it.
As far as privacy goes, the lines are a little blurred. If you read through the fine print in the terms and conditions, you agree to share a significant amount of data about yourself. They disclose a massive list of what kind of data may or may not be collected and it’s extensive. If you’re concerned about your privacy, it might be best to avoid Google Photos altogether.
If you choose to use Google and upload your photos, what you upload is what you’ll get back when you download your pictures. When you make changes to images saved to your Google Photos account later, that information is not added or transferred to the original photo files. In short, you’re only changing the information as it appears on Google’s platform.
In fact, nothing you add to your original images after you upload them to Google Photos will be preserved if you download or try to move them to another platform. Google Photos will preserve, at best, only the original metadata included when you uploaded the photo.
This means any changes you make will be lost if you fail to take certain steps and precautions.
How to Avoid Losing Picture Data on Google Photos
Google Photos is a convenient service but it has a few big limitations. If you’re insistent about using the service, there are two steps you need to take to avoid losing updates you make to pictures stored in their cloud.
1. Label your originals before uploading them to Google Photos.
First, before uploading photos to Google Photos, ensure that any metadata – data like file names, location information, personalization tags, or keywords – you intend to add is done FIRST on the original digital copy. This is the only way you’ll be able to retrieve this kind of information.
2. Download your images with a trusted service.
If you intend to download your images, use a service like Google Takeout. According to The Photo Managers Pro Chantal Imbach, owner of Photos in Order and co-host of the DIY Photo Organising Podcast, “Google Takeout is a free Google service that allows you to download all your photos. It’s still a tedious process because you receive a ton of zip files you need to extract, but it’s much better than selecting and downloading your photos manually. Capture dates will stay intact.”
Get the Help You Need with Your Digital Photos
If you want to add or preserve metadata information on your photos, it’s important to know what’s at stake and how to protect your files.
Organizing a digital photo collection is a big job and it can take time to figure out where to start. Get the help you need by partnering with one of our Certified Photo Managers near you.