How to backup Google Photos to your PC now that Google Drive doesn't sync


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In an ironically named blog post titled "Changing how Google Drive and Google Photos work together" (which could've been shortened to "they won't anymore"), Google explains how your photos will no longer sync with Drive, because "simplification, less confusion, mumble mumble".

Anyone who used it is greeted with this message:

So why's this a pita? Well, Google has a nice little utility called Backup and Sync, which conveniently and reliably backed up Drive to your PC. That included your photos. Which no longer works. Damn you Google.

Here are some solutions, from least better to best better.

Solution 1: Select new photos and download them

Every once in awhile, go to, select all your new photos and download them. ๐Ÿคฎ

Solution 2: Schedule a download (sort of) for a year

Every year (on your birthday? Christmas?), go to and schedule to get a download link containing your photos every other month. In the "customize archive format" screen, be sure to choose the "scheduled exports" option. You can still go back and download everything periodically, but at least this is somewhat automatic. ๐Ÿ˜•

Solution 3: Write your own script to download photos

Make use of the Photos Library API to write a script that downloads new photos. Set it up as a service or whatever, so it runs periodically when your PC is on. ๐Ÿ˜

If you go this route, you'll want to read their Getting started with REST guide for how to enable the Google Photos Library API. Have a drink nearby, because this is guaranteed to be somewhat painful. I enjoy exploring APIs, but I find Google's to be tough to figure out sometimes. I was going to give it a go anyway, but then I found a better solution...

Solution 4: Find a mobile app that syncs photos to Drive

Don't reinvent the wheel unless you have to. Find a reliable mobile app that'll back up your photos for you. I have absolutely no affiliation with the following one, but a quick search turned up PhotoSync, available for iOS and Android, and I like it so far.

Here's the steps I followed to backup to a device on my network:

  • Install the free desktop app, available for Windows and Mac.
    • It configures your firewall to allow communication on a particular port.
    • It also installs a service that listens for connections from your phone.
    • Check "Receive" under settings, to make sure it'll save where you want.
  • Check your wifi settings:
    • Make sure the network is set to "private" (so your devices can find one another).
    • Also, I had issues when both devices were on the "guest" network even though it's private.. something to keep in mind. Might just be my device...
  • Install the mobile app on your phone.
    • Select a photo, click the red circle, and select your device, which should automagically show up, unless your router is blocking things...
    • The photo should be transferred to your other device...

For $2 you can nix the ads and enable auto-transfer, which I'm totally doing. It sounds incredibly flexible, letting you backup whenever:

  • you take a new picture or video,
  • your device connects to a pre-selected WiFi network [SSID transfer]
  • you arrive at a pre-selected geolocation [Location based transfer]
  • you charge your device [Trigger transfer]
  • a pre-set time schedule is met [Time schedule]

It also lets you backup to various cloud services (not just Google Photos), and to NAS devices, although you'll have to shell out a (brace for it) wallet-crushing $4 to do everything.

Thanks for encouraging competition in the free market, Google. ๐Ÿ˜‚


Grant Winney

Is there anything more satisfying than sharing knowledge? Of teaching someone and witnessing their "ah ha" moment? I usually write about tech, but no promises. I hope you find something interesting!