Bye Bye Google Backup & Sync

I’m a huge fan of Google Photos. It’s an amazing service that lets me quickly share photos with particular people, creates interesting images from my photos and it’s a convenient way to bring my photo archive with me on my phone.

Evening in Cork City

However, the new “Backup & Sync” app from Google that replaced the old uploader is problematic.

As well as uploading my photos to Google Photos it would backup to Google Drive. I don’t care about this feature because I use Backblaze for backups. I didn’t really realise what this meant when I first installed the app.

Slieve Liag

I told it to sync my “2018” folder and it dutifully started backing up to Google Photos but I soon noticed that the storage used in my Google account was decreasing. Eventually I found the computers section of Google Drive. All my files were backed up there.

It appears that “Don’t sync to this computer” doesn’t mean “don’t sync this computer to Google Drive”. However it does mean that any files deleted in the synced “Computers” section of Google Drive will be deleted locally. I found this out when I tried to save some storage space by deleting files off Google Drive. Later that day I fired up Lightroom and it reported that a large number of files were unavailable. I opened the folder in Finder only to see the images magically disappear before my eyes.

It was “Backup & Sync” deleting my local files. It was syncing deletes “to this computer”. Thankfully the files were still in the Trash so I could restore them quickly.

Cork City Hall in the fog

So, instead of wasting my storage I need to upload things manually. I see two options:

  • Drag and drop files on to a Google Photos browser window.
  • Sync one temporary folder where I copy duplicates of my photos. I need to periodically delete those files off Google Drive which won’t matter locally because they’ll be duplicates that are deleted immediately after upload.
Grand Parade under construction in 2007

It’s disappointing that Google merged the backup and sync functionality. Google Photos is not a backup service unless you pay for storage and upload full size images. For that reason I can see why they did it.

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