Organizing Personal Photos


Updated Sep 16th, 2023

The cloud providers are really amazing and they serve a need but I would prefer to export and organize my own photos.

A clear sign I am turning into an old person.

Lose the ability to go back quickly.

But like having my own files on a hard drive/disk that I control and have organized the way I want to have it organized.

I don’t like there to be duplicates.

April 2021 I wanted to back up all of my images from the last couple years give them off of my phone get them onto my hard drive get them backed up on a duplicate hard drive and even in the cloud. But I wanted to get them off Google photos.

I did everything manually by connecting my phone up to the computer and downloading manually but this didn’t feel foolproof. So I also requested a full download from Google Takeout which a link will be emailed. This acts as a backup to ensure I didn’t miss anything and I have everything before deleting all photos in Google photos.

I now hold one to three months worth of photos on the phone and backed to the cloud and then go through this process removing from the phone and the cloud and syncing the two before deleting anything to make sure nothing gets missed.

This process helps me curate, delete, organize, a month or a quarter’s worth of photos without letting it get too out of hand.

Requesting Backup from Google Photos

Settings > Export your data > Backup

I deselect everything and then select Google photos to grab all photos and videos.

This triggers google takeout but only for photos. I select email link and updated the max file size to 50GB. Note: If you select a smaller value like 4GB your export will be broken into zip folders at most 4GB in size.

Be prepared for the downloads to take a while to show up in your email inbox, like a few hours depending on how much data you are moving obviously.

After requesting I try not to take any photos until I can download form the link and then download manually from the phone. After I download manually from the phone I will clear the files from the device inside google photos and this will free up space.

I typically back up these files on a 5TB hard Drive, which is backed up by another physical drive and with a different cloud provider.

I could pay google a nominal fee for more storage but I am already paying for 1TB of cloud storage elsewhere.