After writing a personal post yesterday and getting a TON of questions about Facebook and Google Photos I’m back to give you a “how to” on the subject. Hopefully this will clear things up a bit for everyone.
First, yes Facebook synced photos are getting deleted from their servers. Here’s my original post on the matter. In a nutshell, Facebook has had an option for quite a while (2012) in the mobile app to allow users to automatically backup or sync their images to Facebook in a private album so you could share them at a later date. I’ve never used this personally as I’m against Facebook’s compression which basically ruins images (more on that later)… Facebook has developed a new app called Moments. Facebook wants everyone to use this app for sharing “moments” or photos with their friends. However, Facebook decided to do a pretty scary thing in the process: Any images you have previously uploaded to FB using their auto sync feature will be deleted unless you use the Moment’s app! As you can tell this could be devastating news like it was for @aurevoiralexis on twitter.
Does this affect you?
I received about 50 messages after my original post on Facebook was shared over 800 times and the main question is “How do I know if I’m affected?” The easy answer I’ll phrase in the form of a question (que the Jeopardy music). Have you ever allowed the Facebook app to auto sync your images? If you’ve ever clicked that button after opening the Facebook app then yes you are affected. Another way to tell (because most of us don’t remember the last 4 years of clicking on options in apps) is to look in your Facebook profile and see if you have a photo album named “synced” or “synced from phone.” If you do then all those photos are ready to share… or in this case, ready to be purged!
How to save your synced photos
If you know you have synced photos you will need to get the Moments app before July 7, 2016. Another option, for those of us that don’t want Moments (yet another Facebook app), is to download the images from the Facebook website and then back them up to a safer place in the cloud.
What is Moments?
Moments is a Facebook app that allows you to share and collect photos of moments that you spent with other people or just moments you want to share with others. It’s been around for about a year but hasn’t been that popular. Until now… Since making this announcement Facebook Moments has become one of the top downloaded apps overnight. If you don’t want Moments (like me) then this next answer will help you out.
How to safely backup all your images
The quick answer: Google Photos.
The explanation: Facebook has been secretly compressing and ruining your images. You may have seen an option to upload high quality images to Facebook while using your desktop. But that upload takes quite a while. And if you don’t check that box then the quality of the uploaded file suffers in a big way due to compression. Big deal right? Well, if you ever want to use that image in print, on a t-shirt, or in a slideshow, it is a problem. Downloading images off of Facebook to use in a slideshow for graduation or a wedding will result in an image so compressed it will most likely have artifacts and be rather embarrassing.
My solution: Google Photos. Since Google allows users to purchase storage you can be sure their storage isn’t going anywhere and they won’t haphazardly delete your images. I have several thousand images in Google Photos and I know many world renowned photographers that trust Google with their images. The best part is you can choose to allow Google to back up your images as original quality or high quality. Original is the exact photo that came from your camera. Keep in mind original photos will take up space in your Google Drive where you will get 15GB free and can purchase 100GB for $1.99 per month. The high quality option will back up an unlimited number of your images with Google’s compression. All compression is not created equal.
Facebook and Google use two different techniques when compressing files and Google got it right. The compression Google uses will still allow you to print an 8×10 image or use that baby photo in a slideshow and it will be embarrassing for the right reasons, not because it looks blurry. Plus you can share images right from the Google Photos app just like they are still on your phone! Send them in a message, email them, even post them to Facebook straight from the album in the cloud! Download the app, sign in, select auto backup and let it work. The assistant tab will tell you how many images are left to backup.
One other thing, Google Photos will also back up your videos for free right from your phone. And to top that, there’s a Google Photos Backup app for your desktop to backup all those years of images safely to the cloud. Yeah, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
Other Google Photos Tips and Tricks
Albums: After you get your initial backup done you can open Google Photos and see all your images in a timeline view. From there you can create albums to sort them and even share albums with others so they can add photos to the album (Sounds like Moments huh?).
Auto Awesome: Google Photos will create things from your images like collages, trip albums, slideshow movies with music, and even special artistic creations. These will appear in the Assistant section of the app as Google creates them. Google will even remind you of images taken in years past. You can share these, save them, or discard them in the Assistant tab of the Google Photos App.
Free up space on your device: After Google Photos backs up your images you have the ability to delete the originals off of your device in one step. Just open Google Photos, tap on the menu (three bars next to search at top), tap on settings, then Manage Device Storage. Use the Free Up Space option to delete the images Google has already backed up knowing that they will always be in the cloud for you to use any time.
If you made it this far you get a gold star! That’s it for now, I’m sure I’ll post more about the Google Photos app and about Facebook’s shenanigans.