I have used Drive for years, and had all my documents including photos backed up there. Then at some point later, Google Photos became a thing, and Google began nudging me towards using that instead of Google Drive, even though I can browse the photos in both.

I've now realized that it's possible to upload photos to Google Photos that aren't even on Google Drive, implying that Google Photos has a separate storage and is not just a view over photos in Google Drive. It looks like I might have some kind of strange two-way syncing between Drive and Photos, as my phone's Google Photos app seems to think it uploads to Google Photos (with the 'high quality' unlimited option), yet any photos I take on it show up in a folder in Google Drive. On my PC, when I add photos to my photos folder with Backup and Sync installed, the photos seem to show up on both Drive and Photos. How can I tell what the original and which is a downstream synced copy of my photos? I can't find any metadata to indicate the difference and I'm afraid that trying to de-duplicate my data (I'm trying to clear space on my Drive) will delete both copies.

Using my Android phone, my account settings for Google Drive has this turned on: * "Auto Add": Automatically put Google Photos into a folder in My Drive

Also, using my Android phone, my account settings for Google Photos has this turned on: * Google Drive - Sync photos and videos from Google Drive

  • Google Photos will host the original. If you go into Google Drive settings, there is an option to toggle Create a Google Photos folder if you’re accessing Drove on a desktop or Google Photos folder if you’re accessing Drive on the mobile app.
    – DrZoo
    Aug 18, 2018 at 6:06
  • This is a little confusing. Google photos creates a Google Photos folder on your Google Drive. There is no separate storage. You should turn off syncing of photos in Google Drive and let Google Photos handle it. Let Google Photos keep your photos backed up and then it also gives you an option to free up space on your phone by removing photos that are backed up. If you want to clean up duplicate photos you need to go to the source of truth (Google cloud - i.e. view google drive online) and do it there. Your changes will replicate to any other devices, like your PC, phone, etc.
    – Appleoddity
    Aug 18, 2018 at 7:03


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