Oops: Google Photos Corrupts Older User Account Images

google photos update corruption

While updating its overall Photos experience for users, and particularly focusing on new “Memories” features, Google also seems to be neglecting another part of the “user experience”.

Recently, many users of the Photo storage platform have noticed that images stored several years back seem to be corrupted in certain ways when viewed or downloaded.

During this past weekend, a number of Google Photos users scrolling back to images roughly five years old or older noted that the images contained what some described as cracks and lines running through them in some cases, and blurry or distorted areas in others. Another commonly reported problem was white dots, and the overall nature of the corruption seemed to be free of any specific pattern except that it affected older photos.

Users of Google Photos on Android devices, Google’s Photos web platform and the iOS version of the app all reported the same thing. We don’t know quite how many people in total were affected among the millions of Photos users.

Those users who posted about this on the web and social media also explained that the photo corruption would persist even if the photos were downloaded either individually or through Google Takeout (Google’s mass personal data download system). Original copies of their photos stored on user devices would be okay and it was only the old images that had been stored in Photos that had the signs of corruption.

There have been many reports and examples of this posted across the web that mostly shared the details of these corruption issues. Again, the problem apparently hasn’t affected all users but enough reported that the glitch seems to be uncomfortably widespread.


More recently, some users noted that their photo corruption problems later disappeared again, and even more recently, as of September 26th, Google stated that it has recognized the issue and that it’s working quickly to fix it.

As we’ve previously reported on this site, Google Photos has recently been working on updates to its Photos platform and is introducing new algorithmic changes that allow it to more specifically recognize ideal photos for user Memories and video slides. The company scans through images with AI technology to achieve this effect. Whether this is in any way connected to the image corruption issue for older photos is unknown.

More generally, we’d recommend that you check your own older Google Photos uploads if you’re a user of the platform and make sure they’re okay.

Still more broadly, photographers should be exceptionally careful about keeping multiple backups across different mediums of their most important photographic and video work. No one platform can absolutely guarantee data integrity and this applies even to giants like Google. A multi-layered backup strategy is the most secure course of action for serious, hardened image security.

What’s more, aside from data corruption problems, an image storage platform can randomly delete or close your account either by accident or for more ambiguous reasons. Google in particular is known for doing this with little to no recourse by a user.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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