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Deleting photo from a desktop folder synced with Drive Backup and Sync deletes from Google Photos?! 0 Recommended Answers 25 Replies 24 Upvotes
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Last edited 1/20/19
EDIT: I changed the title of the issue as we've gotten closer through troubleshooting. See posts further down for more/better information.

I downloaded several photos from an album in the Google Photos web interface. I unzipped the file and copied the photos somewhere and then deleted that unzipped folder. When I go back to the album on Google Photos, all those pictures are gone.

I originally thought that downloading them means you are taking them out of Google Photos forever. But that seems weird and unreasonable, especially if they don't tell us.

My only theory is that I unzipped the download to a folder I have backed-up on Google Drive (NOT my photos folder on Google Drive), which then saw that I deleted the files and deleted them from everywhere on Google. 

Seems pretty weird. Actually it seems awful. If I download some of my photos to use them and then delete the files when I'm done, they should still remain on Google Photos forever.

Does anyone know what's happening here? I can't have been the only person this happens to. And it has happened more than once (and I worry about how many times it has happened and I have no idea until months later when I can't find a photo I could swear I had taken).
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Sorry to hear Andrew, but what you are telling is completely abnormal. 

Downloading does not mean Take-out but copying from the web to your computer and that copy is independant from the web, so it maybe deleted without deleting anything on the web. 

That copy is packed in a zip-folder because that is the only format available when downloading more then one file only. And that the zip can be deleted after unpacking into a normal folder also is normal and should not damage anything on the web. 

So I only can imagine that you are deleting files that still were synced to the web in some way you did not tell us. Maybe you have Backup & Sync installed and not set to "Don't delete everywhere?
Last edited 1/18/19
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Hi there I tried downloading my pictures from my old device and And ended up getting few of them basically all my personal ones didn't download could you help with that
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Let's run a controlled test and see what happens:

1. I go to an album in the Google Photos web interface, select two photos, and download them to my desktop.
2. The Photos.zip file is on my desktop. I reopen Google Photos and the photos are still in the album.
3. I unzip the Photos.zip file to my desktop and wait until they synchronize. (I have my desktop backed-up through Google Backup and Sync.)
4. I then delete the photos from my desktop and let that propagate with Google Backup and Sync.
5. I go back to the album on Google Photos and those two photos are gone.

We know that Google Photos and Google Drive can be tied together. I do not have that link enabled right now. But Google still seems to delete a photo EVERYWHERE, including Google Photos, even if I just delete the file off my synced desktop because I don't need it right there anymore.
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Thanks for feedback, but were the chosen pictures from phone or from desktop? 

And what is your idea behind having them synced back to Drive and Photos?
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OK, yes, Backup and Sync is deleting EVERYWHERE.

But it seems to me that it's unexpected "functionality" to remove the photo from Google Photos as well. I get it that that is technically "everywhere," in the context of Google Drive and Backup and Sync, it would seem that it is more logical to consider that to mean delete on your computer and the synced folder on Google Drive. That is, if I delete a Word document on my computer, I don't want it cluttering Google Drive anymore.

But if I move a photo off my desktop that I had to download from Google Photos, it should still be available in Google Photos because they are so different contextually. In fact, the dialog that asks if it should delete the file only asks if it should delete it from Google Drive; it doesn't mention Google Photos or really "everywhere."

Put another way, the only way to get your cell phone pictures if you want to edit them in desktop software is to download them. It's not like I'm negotiating a file structure on Google Drive, where it's obvious what it means to delete something in a folder. So if I can't discard or even move my working file without it disappearing forever from Google Photos... well I don't know.

This might be a showstopper for me. I basically backup my whole computer with Backup and Sync, so I don't have a single safe place I can download pictures from Google Photos to edit or use otherwise without losing them forever when I'm done! This seems truly insane the more I think about it.

And it seems unreasonable to have to personally approve all deletions on Google Backup and Sync.

Lastly, to illustrate how crazy this is, if I download a PDF from my root Google Drive folder to a different synced folder, let it sync, and then delete it and approve the deletion, IT STAYS ON GOOGLE DRIVE from the source location! And that's what I would expect because I downloaded it from one place, to a new place and I'm just deleting it from the new place, not the old place.

Oh well. If this is not a bug, it's turning out to be an unacceptable feature. If it's not an engineering bug, it is absolutely a UI/UX bug.
Last edited 1/19/19
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Sorry, we are a little out of sync in our responses.

To answer your questions, the particular photos in my test just now were originally taken on my phone.

And the idea of syncing them back to drive is simply that every file from my desktop (and certain other locations on my computer) is synced to Google through Backup and Sync. These just happen to be JPGs that I'm staging on my desktop to use wherever I might need to use them.

I don't have Backup and Sync set to save photos specifically (did not check "Upload newly added photos... to Google Photos"). I prefer to handle most photos like files, and Google Photos is there to store my phone photos and share a handful of photos I upload from time to time. I can say it does sync photos that happen to be in synced folders just fine.
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It is clear by now: the B&S app can't handle fully identical files synced to Photos from your phone and (after downloading) synced to Drive only with respect to deletions. 

Expert Peter should discern (quite tuff) if your rather abnormal usage still is a good reason to report these unexpected deletions as a design bug. 

But because Google does not like any normal feedback, you should find a way to keep your Download-folder out of the synced folders. 

Have a good weekend without deletions :-)
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@Andrew, It sounds like what you are seeing is as expected, syncing photos back up to Google Photos retains a link between them and  I would expect the behaviour you see.  Unzipping to a monitored folder doesn’t make any sense. What would make more sense would be to download, then delete the GP copy, then add to Backup and Sync, but even that seems counter intuitive. I would download and store them somewhere else, don’t understand why you have to create a destructive loop, Peter
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Just a remark Peter: 
Andrew only does sync back to Drive only - not to Photos where his originals from phone are. 

Goodnight from here / Rinus
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The Community is made up of volunteers trying to help by sharing our experience, we have no magic links into Google and are not in possession of any more information than what is in the blog.
The best way to let Google know your thoughts is to provide feedback, see:-
In summary, to send feedback to the Google Photos team
  1. Go to photos.google.com or open the Google Photos app .
  2. At the top left, open the Menu , then select Help & feedback and/or Send feedback
  3. You can tell them things like:
  • What you like or dislike about the app
  • Things that are confusing or don't work
  • Things that would help you use Google Photos better
I would suggest the most effective way would be to start the feedback with
#Drive & Photos followed by your thoughts and hopefully some constructive suggestions if you foresee any problems
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