The Frustration that is Google Photos

I do not have photos of me before the age of 19. Thanks, hard drives.

Having flitted from external hard drive to hard drive throughout my teenage years – (Cloud wasn’t a big thing back then) all of which ended in broken whirring messes, leaving me penniless and laden with stress-induced migraines – I finally conceded that these supposed storage ‘life-savers’ and I were never meant to be.

Thankfully, 2012 and the tremendous developments of Cloud brought far better prospects, what with Google Photos at my doorstep and iCloud voraciously syncing my schedules and contacts seamlessly.

Half a decade and 50’000 photos later, I find myself nonplussed, with a serious situation on my hands. Sticking to Google Photos had become a dangerous game of cat and mouse – take that Sharon Stone – with my monthly Cloud subscription hitting herculean heights each month, becoming totally unfeasible to continue in the long-run.

These are the problems I’m facing with Google Photos:

  1. Constantly needing to upgrade my storage capacity to meet with the snowballing memories just doesn’t make sense
  2. Leaving my photos in the Cloud just doesn’t give me a peace of mind. iCloud leaks in the recent years (through no fault of Google) just make leaving my photos on the cloud a potential liability
  3. Google Photos is kind of like a black hole – Easy to slip into, but literally zaps your life away when you attempt to get out of.You may be thinking: Google Photos is easy enough to use, no?
    You download the app, decide your preferences – Connect to Wi-Fi or Mobile Data to back up your photos – select the folders on your phone you’d like to back up, and presto you’re ready to go!However, once your photos are inside Google Photos, it’s an ABSOLUTE CHORE to try getting them out. Take me, for example, I’ve been a loyal Google Photos user for the past 5 years, you’d think they’d make moving your photos out of their Cloud Storage interface a little easier for the everyday human being – let alone devoted Cloud slaves like myself.

    But no.

    The way I see it, this devotee has three options – all of which are deathly slow and possibly signalling the end of one’s free time as I know it.

    FIRST OPTION: GOOGLE TAKEOUT

    Basically, you select the data that you want to download – in my case all my 50’000 photos, and the system prompts you to select the download option of your choice – A link to be sent to your email, your Dropbox or your Google Drive. Disclaimer: All these choices suck. Do bear in mind that this link has been generated from the computer as a byproduct of all your archived photos, generated from hours and hours of archiving.

    So in other words, yes, you do get your archived link after X-to-the-power-of-N hours, after which you still have to navigate to your email/Dropbox/Drive to CLICK and DOWNLOAD your entire life’s memories, which will take another God knows how many more hours.

    Talk about putting a non-romantic spin on ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞.

    SECOND OPTION: MANUAL LABOUR

    Before you say anything, I am aware that there is an option to save your Google Photos in your Google Drive as a physical folder. And no, I do not plan on utilising more Cloud space to save these photos in my Drive – all of which would be deleted on the Photos platform if I were to try deleting them in Drive. Not so smart now, eh Google? 

    People around me have been advising me to save my photos to an external hard drive- a solution which I completely distrust due to my perpetual clumsiness (mentioned above).

    Even if I somehow managed to convince myself to utilise an external hard drive, I would have to manually copy and download all my Google Photos, in batches of 500 pictures in one go (that is the stupidly stipulated maximum). I’m sure there’s a very smart reason as to why users are only allowed to download 500 pictures at one go, but I have 50’000 photos in there.

    Sympathy and understanding will be scarce on my end.

    THIRD OPTION: NAS System

    For non-digital natives like myself, NAS systems are basically like giant hard drives that you place at home, connected to your home Wi-Fi system. Storage usually goes up to a few terabytes, and backups can happen anytime, anywhere via a handy little app you can download on your phone.

    With that being said, having a NAS system is still a similar strategy to that of the hard drive strategy in option two (above). One – being sad little me – would still need to pull the 50’000 photos out of Google Photos over to my computer/hard drive/phone, before backing it up to the NAS system.


    Which then brings me to my original problem: I need to extract my photos from Google Photos.

    If anyone has any suggestions/ideas, please let me know – Before I commit storage suicide and click on something I’d regret – like the Japan fiasco of 2017. But we’ll get to that another time.