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Google Photos vs Google Drive: Which One To Use for Your Photos

Google Photos vs Google Drive
6 minutes read

Have you ever wondered where to store your photos on Google, be it on Google Photos or Google Drive?

In this article, I will compare Google Photos vs Google Drive and in the end, you will tell which one to use for your photos. Let’s dive in.

What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a powerful cloud storage service that allows you to upload and store all types of files including photos, and videos. You can sort them using folders, and share those folders.

Google Drive is not designed only for photos and videos like its counterpart Google Photos, but it can store many different file formats.

Google Drive allows adding different file types like PDF, ZIP, DOC, DOCX, Videos, and Photos.

Google Drive on PC

To upload to Google Drive you click the Upload button or drag the files to your Google Drive window.

You can organize photos into folders and share them with any person or a group of people. It allows for adding comments making it an excellent tool for collaboration.

Google Drive does not have inbuilt photo and video editing features. You thus have to use third-party apps for editing photos and videos stored on Google Drive.

Google Drive on Android Mobile

What is Google Photos?

Google Photos is a photo and video syncing and backup service that allows you to sync photos and videos from your phone and computer. You can then view them in a gallery format.

Google Photos only works with photos and video and unlike Google Drive which stores different file types. No other file format can be stored in Google Photos.

Google Photos uses the Backup and Sync App to back up photos from your computer and mobile phone upon your consent.

Consent to upload photos to Google Photos on PC

Google Photos organizes media files by date, sorting them into albums, and allows searching those files. It also provides for some basic photo editing.

Google Photos provides access to the synced photos and videos on many devices through signing into your Google account.

Consent to upload Google Photos on Android

Google Photos has three upload options :

  1. Express
  2. High quality
  3. Original quality

In Google Photos, the Express option will compress your images down to 3 megapixels(if above 3MP) and this is available on Android.

The High-Quality Option compresses images to 16 megapixels(if they are above 16MP) and compresses videos to 1080p. This is still good quality for many people and you can print High-quality photos up to 24×16 inches.

The Original Quality option maintains the images and videos in their original state without applying any compression. This ensures that you keep your photographs and videos in their raw state.

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Google Photos on Mobile Android App

Before June 1st, 2021, images uploaded using the Express and High-Quality option did not deduct from your 15GB free storage limit offered by Google. But, at the moment, all images uploaded to Google Photos will count towards your Google Storage limit.

All photos uploaded before June 1st, 2021 will not count towards the free storage space, but new uploads will count towards the same.

You can check how much storage you have used by using Google One. Google gives a free 15GB Storage limit on Google accounts and if exhausted, you have to buy more space.

Google One for checking your Google storage status

Google Photos vs Google Drive Comparison Table

FeaturesGoogle PhotosGoogle Drive
UsagePhotos and videos sync and backup service.File storage service.
Supported File TypesSupports storage of media files only i.e photos and videos eg MP4, JPG, PNG, etcSupports storage of many different file types eg PDF, ZIP, DOC including media files eg MP3, MP4, JPG, PNG, GIFs, etc
User InterfaceShows media in a gallery format that sorts images by date, albums, etcShows files in a file system format where you can see folders that are organized in a hierarchical manner.
Photo EditingHas inbuilt Photo Editor that allows for basic photo editing.Has no inbuilt photo editor and thus relies on third-party apps to edit photos and videos.
Content OrganizationMedia is organized in albums and cannot be moved to other albums.Files are organized in hierarchical folders and can be moved in between folders.
Storage SpaceMedia space occupied is deducted from the free 15GB limit offered by Google.Files space occupied is deducted from the free 15GB limit offered by Google.
Photo ScanPhoto Scanning can be achieved by downloading PhotoScan By Google AppHas inbuilt photo scanning.
Artificial IntelligenceHas Google Lens inbuilt that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect faces, identify objects in images and create albums automatically.Does not have AI inbuilt.
SharingSupports sharing photos with one person at a time.Supports sharing with a group of people.
Media File CompressionSupports compression of photos and videos ie Express – 3MP, and High-Quality Mode – 16MP for image and 1080p for video.Stores files in their original state.
Syncing and BackupAuto syncs and backup media files from phone or computer upon consent.Manual upload of files to Google Drive.
IntegrationNo integration is offered.Supports integration with third-party services.
Comparison between Google Photos vs Google Drive

How to move photos from Google Drive to Google Photos

There are two ways to move photos from Google Drive to Google Photos :

  1. Direct Upload from Google Drive
  2. Manual Download and Upload of Photos

1. Direct Upload from Google Drive

Google Photos provides an option to import photos from Google Drive with a feature named Upload from Google Drive.

Below are the steps to follow:

Step 1

Go to Google Photos on your computer and sign in to your Google Account.

Step 2

At the top-right, beside the gear icon, there is an option to Upload. Click on it and select Upload from Google Drive.

Upload photos directly from Google Drive to Google Photos

Step 3

Select individual photos to upload because you cannot import folders into Google Photos.

Step 4

Click Upload to import the selected photos into Google Photos.

Upload photos from Google Drive to Google Photos

2. Manual Download and Upload of Photos

To move photos from Google Drive to Google Photos, you have to first download them from Google Drive and then upload them to Google Photos.

Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1

Select the files you want to transfer in Google Drive, click the three dots in the top menu bar, then click Download to download them.

This will download files bundled in a ZIP folder, that you can open on your computer. The folder will be downloaded to your default browser download location where you can access and unzip them.

If you are using Firefox and you would like to change the download folder, you can read this article on how to change firefox download folder location.

Download Photos from Google Drive

Step 2

Open Google Photos, and drag the unzipped folder to upload the photos.

Step 3

Delete the files from Google Drive when done because they will be taking up space in both services.

How to move photos from Google Photos to Google Drive

To move photos from Google Photos to Google Drive, first, download them from Google Photos using a service called Google Takeout. After that, upload them to Google Drive.

Google TakeOut

Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1

Launch Google Takeout by navigating to Google TakeOut and signing in with your Google Account.

Step 2

Click Deselect All to remove all other options then select Google Photos. You can click ‘All photo albums included’ to specify what to include and exclude.

Google Takeout for Google Photos

Step 3

Scroll down until the end and select Next Step, then click ‘Delivery Method’ and then click ‘Add to Drive’.

Step 4

Click ‘Create Export’ to create a ZIP file with the media which is moved to your Google Drive.

Should I use Google Photos or Google Drive?

So, should you use Google Photos or Google Drive? After reading this article on Google Photos vs Google Drive, I am going to answer the question by considering your usage purpose.

Google Drive is for sharing different file types, not necessarily photos and videos only. You can thus add other file types like PDFs, to your collection folders.

Google Photos is for backing up and searching your photo and video collection and only supports media file types.

If you are interested in adding other file types to your media collection and sharing to a group of people, use Google Drive otherwise you can use Google Photos.

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