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cross-posted at https://support.google.com/accounts/thread/78125050

I deleted all my photos, videos, and albums from Google Photos, then I tried downloading my data with Google Takeout. The archive still includes Google Photos data. Does the data take a while to actually get deleted? I haven't had this issue with YouTube data (I deleted it and it is no longer present in archives I download with Google Takeout).

I'm curious how this actually works under the hood, as much as anyone knows and can talk about. I assume Google is secretive about how and where they store our data. That's part of the reason I deleted my photos: I want to be responsible for my own data (a massive undertaking and a story for another time and place).

I know I can just de-select Google Photos to exclude them from the Takeout archive.

I searched around a bit and couldn't find the answer. I'll try another creating another Takeout archive in a while and will check if it that one includes Google Photos data I tried to delete.

I did empty my trash in Google Photos--this didn't make any difference (yet).

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  • For a while, Google Photos kept the photos in a GDrive folder. Maybe some are still there or in the GDrive Trash.
    – Jerry101
    Oct 24 '20 at 4:17
  • I don't see them in my google drive or google drive trash. Oct 27 '20 at 22:04
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I know that one's Google Drive data can be restored after being permanently deleted (on the user side), for a month or two following that. Obviously, Google doesn't commit to a specific time period with which this can be done, but it means that Google doesn't delete your data immediately. They probably follow a method that is most efficient for them (e.g. routine clearing of space, to make space for other users). I believe that this is the reason why your data was still hanging around. One could verify my claim by waiting an additional two months after permanently deleting one's data—myself, I'm not 100% sure if this is the correct interpretation.

Regarding the location and way that your data is stored, Google leads the industry with regards to security. They store data across the globe, in different server centres, in order to guard against mishaps at any one particular server centre. This ensures that the data is available quickly, when needed.

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    That would make sense. I checked again and my Takeout archive is now the size I expect (and does not include the deleted photos/videos/albums). Jan 6 at 17:49

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