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Google Photos No Longer Backing Up Third-Party Data by Default

Google Photos is a great, reliable service that millions of people use to store their personal photos, along with images created from other apps. However, an important change has happened that you might not be aware of. Your device won’t notify you about the change, nor will Google Photos itself. As such, read on if you rely on the service to store your data.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the world, more people are isolated and using social media apps to talk to one another and share images and videos. According to Google, the number of photos and videos sent back and forth has gone up so much that it’s using a lot of internet resources.

This makes sense. If you haven’t received some sort of meme or advice about the coronavirus from friends or family, you’re one of the lucky few. These things spread like wildfire through social media apps to the point that the original source of the content becomes unknown.

So, more photos and videos being shared means a greater strain on internet resources. When your device receives this media through apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, or Kik, it stores it in an app-specific folder. Check your Gallery app and you’ll notice folders specifically for the media generated by these apps – they don’t get stored within your camera’s photos or screenshots, for example.

One of the reasons that Google Photos is so good is that it automatically backs up these folders as part of the wider system backup. While you might not be bothered about memes received on WhatsApp being backed up, chances are you do want personal photos from friends and family to be.

However, that has changed. Google Photos no longer backs up photos and videos from these third-party social media apps by default.

“People are sharing more photos and videos due to COVID-19. To save internet resources, backup & sync has been turned off for device folders created by messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messages, and Kik,” said Google in a statement.

The apps impacted by this change are Facebook, Helo, Instagram, LINE, Messages, Messenger, Snapchat, Twitter, Viber, and WhatsApp.

Don’t fear, though. Any media that you have previously backed up to Google Photos will still be there. It isn’t going to be removed, unless you manually choose it to be.

You can also reverse the change on an individual app basis. You just need to go into Google Photos and enable the backup for those folders. To do this, open the Google Photos app, then go to Library > Photos on device > View all. Tap the folder with content you want to back up, then turn on Backup and sync at the top. You can also back up specific media within the folder using the “Back up now” button, if you don’t want everything.

It’s unknown whether Google will reverse this change when the increased COVID-19 internet traffic settles down. Until then, if you want your social media photos and videos to be safe and backed up, manually enable it within Google Photos.


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