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When you create the folder "Google Photos" in Drive. Is that just a pointer or is it an actual folder with all the pictures from Photos taking up storage in drive?

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That is not a pointer, that is an actual folder with all the pictures and videos from Photos taking up storage in drive if you upload in original quality.

From Google Help Center:

Your photos and videos are stored using your Google Account's storage space.

  • If you upload photos directly to Google Drive, they will count against your storage quota.
  • If you upload using Google Photos or Backup and sync, it will count against your storage quota if you upload in original quality.

From the Help Center also see What happens when you change or delete a photo.

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  • How sure are we that it will remain in "original quality"?
    – Nick
    Jul 29, 2018 at 19:45
  • And if you dont upload them in original quality? Then how does the drive folder work? Jul 31, 2018 at 23:43
  • @MikeHouska: It works in the same, but if you don't upload in original quality it will save some space for you. support.google.com/photos/answer/6220791
    – serenesat
    Aug 2, 2018 at 11:12

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