I recently discovered an issue syncing photos between Google Drive and Google Photos.

After Flickr decided to remove the free allowance I found that I had just over 200GB of photos on my NAS box that I needed to backup somewhere else . I wanted to upload them to Google Photos so they viewable and sharable with my family.

The only easy option I had to get my photos to Google was by using the backup tool on the NAS box. This would allow me to sync the local copy of the images to a directory on Google Drive. I checked with Google support that I can upload photos to Google Drive and then have them sync over to Google Photos. At which point I'd remove them from Google Drive and set Google Photos to compress them to High Quality rather than Original, this would mean they wouldn't count towards my storage quota.

Based on Google's advice that this approach would work, I upgraded to a 2TB Google One account at £7.99 per month, it turns out it doesn't work.

I performed the following test; I created a directory in Google Drive, uploaded some images I knew did not exist in my Google Photos library. I enabled the setting in Google Photos "Sync photos & videos from Google Drive". The uploaded images appear in Google Photos. Then:

  • If I turn off the sync setting, the images are removed from Google Photos.
  • If I delete an individual image file from Google Drive, it is removed from Google Photos.
  • If I delete the containing directory from Google Drive the images are removed from Google Photos.

I did try a 3rd party website MultCloud, which offered the service to sync between many cloud providers, importantly they differentiate between Google Drive and Google Photos, however, they and Google currently have a rate limiting problem which prevents their platform working for me. I paid them £14.69 for an unlimited account which they refunded without resistance.

Despite my best efforts the only solution both I and Google can offer is to delete the photos entirely from Google Drive and re upload them using a computer with the Google Sync app installed. This isn't ideal as I now have to upload > 200GB of images for a second time via my FTTC internet connection. In addition I've been paying for the additional storage space I've been using whilst trying to find a solution.

Google has refunded me one month's subscription.

Resources

Google: One, Drive,  Photos.
Flickr: "Free accounts will be limited to 1,000 photos and videos"
MultCloud