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(I'm not sure this is the right stackexchange site to ask this question, if I'm wrong please tell me.)

My current backup strategy for all important files (documents, photos, videos, music, scripts, workspace) on my computer is to have a copy of them in my Google Drive. As I'm on ArchLinux and Google doesn't provide a Linux client to sync Drive, I'm using OverGrive to sync my files (I tried InSync but it gets stuck while syncing files, I have to restart it every few files). I'm satisfied with this backup strategy as even if my house burns, I'll still have my kids' pictures on Google Drive.

The problem is for the photos on Google Photos. The photos on my computer are older ones, all the ones from the last years are on Google Photos only. I would like to have a backup for them too (Google can crash also). I could download them all from time to time on my computer, but then they would be synced with my Google Drive and take double space in my Google OneDrive storage.

I'm looking for advice on a better backup strategy for my photos. These are the requirements I'm trying to fulfill :

  • It would be nice to have all my photos in one place. Currently some are on my computer (and backed up on drive), some are on Google Photos and some are on both places (even 3 places with the backup on Google Drive).
  • On my computer they are in a folder structure, on Google Photos there doesn't seem to be a folder structure. When I'll join both storages, It would be fine if a tool could recognize two pictures as the same even if they're not in the same structure.
  • I would prefer to have the same backup strategy for my photos than for the rest of my files (easier to control).
  • I should have 2 copies (not more) of all my important files : one on my computer and one in the cloud.
  • When I take a picture with my android phone, it is synced automatically with Google Photos and I like Google Photos functionalities, so I'd like to keep them.

Do you have advice on how to better manage this?

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  • Welcome. This is primarily opinion-based question. AFAIK this kind of questions are not allowed in Stack Exchange. You could confirm this by posting a question on Meta Stack Exchange.
    – Rubén
    Mar 29 '20 at 19:40
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I take it that one of your aims is to have all your photos in Google Photos, and you presently have a lot missing from there. Things used to be easier when Photos could sync with Drive, because it would all happen in the background.

One can upload photos to Google Photos via the web app, but I think uploading hundreds at a time has the risk that the browser could be closed in the process, or a few photos simply not uploaded (e.g. I have encountered this error once on Firefox). A more robust method is thus to copy them from Drive, after uploading them with your sync client (i.e. at the top of photos.google.com, click on "Upload" then "Google Drive"). However, I think you would only be able to select a whole folder of photos at a time, rather than many folders at a time. So, uploading half your life's photos to Google Photos may take some thinking.

One reason why I upvoted your question is because you ask

When I'll join both storages, It would be fine if a tool could recognize two pictures as the same even if they're not in the same structure.

Yes, that would be ideal. Unfortunately, in my experience, Google Photos does not detect duplicates adequately. They haven't yet developed a tool to do this either, and I've been waiting for one for years. Their support on this is woeful.

Lastly, while I agree that multiple backups are a good idea, I disagree that "Google can crash". Google has multiple datacentres spread across the world (with multiple copies of your data), to mitigate the possibility of your data being lost. Each datacentre has extensive physical security on the premises, to protect the data. I think the risk lies more either with ransomware, or apps making undesirable changes.

With regards to ransomware, one can't roll back one's Google Drive storage to a previous date. (One can do this with Dropbox.) For example, see this question. For this reason, I recommend having an offline backup of your files (i.e. one that doesn't sync), on a separate hard drive from your computer (or on a protected one, as ransomware can affect all the drives on a computer). In my case, I've started doing this by locally copying my files from a completely synced storage on my computer, to an external hard drive, every few months.

The other threat I can identify is apps making undesirable changes, or accidental deletion of files that are synced. This has happened to me both with Backup and Sync and recently with InSync. Although I often notice when files are deleted unwantedly, e.g. by monitoring the Activity Pane in Google Drive or the sync activity in the sync client, these types of actions make me not fully trust the permanence of storage in Google Drive.

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Because Google has separated Google Photos from Google Drive (apparently due to user confusion on how they sync) it is unlikely there is a Linux app that syncs both files and photos simultaneously. I haven't found one.

The best option I see right now is to use Google Photos Sync from the Snap Store. Details specifically for ArchLinux are at https://snapcraft.io/install/gphotos-sync/arch.

Caveat: I have not used ArchLinux or the Snap Store.

My photo backup method on Linux was to use Windows in a virtual machine, then install Google Drive Sync on that and turn on the option for syncing photos. Instructions to turn this on are under the 'If you already have Backup and Sync for Drive' dropdown.

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Here is my current process, not sure if it is better or worse.

  1. Take photos on phone
  2. On phone, review photos, deleting ones I don't want to keep, editing ones that I want to save
  3. Copy photos to laptop
  4. Run all photos through filters
  5. Use GeoSetter to ensure all photos have GPS (fix ones that don't), set file dates to EXIF dates
  6. Store photos 6a. Copy photos to pixel to upload to Google Photos in Original Quality, then manually label 6b. Copy photos to local file server sorting into folders
  7. Rsync back to my phone for my local phone copy.

I also have a separate backup computer that has a nightly copy of everything on my file server. And I have started using Backblaze to store a copy of all my files offsite.

I also have a file sync program running on my phone that will upload photos I've taken to google drive. I wrote an app that will upload a compressed version of photos/videos over data as soon as they are taken (this sort of works). Then on wifi, it uploads the originals. This is a temporary measure incase my phone is lost/stolen/damaged. I then periodically have to manually clean up google drive.

To summarize, My primary copy of my photos is on my file server. I then have a backup on:

  1. Local Backup Server
  2. Phone
  3. Google Photos
  4. Backblaze Online Storage

#1 and #4 are my main backup methods. Having them on Google Photos is my primary way to share photos and I like some of the other features. Having it on my phone is for convenience so I'm not using data to download photos.

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