Google photos downloads compressed

I've just spent several days using rclone to upload all of my photos and videos to Google Photos. This seemed to go really well, and I can see everything in the Google Photos GUI now.

  • When I try to download a photo from the web GUI, I get it in full quality (~19Mb).

  • However when I use rclone to download the same file, it comes in around 2Mb.

Looking at the following, this appears to be an issue with the Google Photos API

Using rclone 1.49.1 on Arch Linux
Example command:

rclone copy gphotos:/media/by-year /some/local/path --progress

My first post here, so hopefully this is ok. Just wanted to know if there is anything I've missed that I can do here, and whether I should open a bug for this?

Not sure if I can help much here, but the issue you link seems very relevant. If the API does not support it then there would be little the rclone Gphotos remote could do to fix it. That would have to be up to Google to implement. Assuming the information is up to date and this hasn't changed that is.

At least you should still be able to recover all original files through google takeout if needed, but of course this is not very convenient as you will get everything from your entire Gphotos at once, but at least you don't have to fret you have permanently degraded your photos.

Until this is fixed the only workaround may be to store your original photos on Gdrive instead - and depending on your need maybe sync it from there into Gphotos if you also need to have them accessible via that system.

But yea, seems like a shitty situation for now - and a very arbitrary limitation at that considering the webUI allows you to do this already. I could only advice you to do your part in applying pressure to Google on the issue so maybe they eventually fix it.

I don't think opening an issue is likely to fix this for now - but it could perhaps be useful to collate the information about this into an issue for fixing at some later point if the situation hopefully changes. A way to track it as an ongoing unsolved problem that is.

Alas it is a limitation of the Google API :frowning:

I almost didn't release the photos backend because of it but I decided it was still useful.

The best thing you could do would be to subscribe to that issue and complain to Google, or complain on twitter elsewhere - hopefully they will listen eventually.

Will do, thanks. I'm glad the backend still exists, it's definitely easier than uploading a large number of files manually via the web UI.

Could the docs be updated to highlight this as a limitation please?

It does mention it, but I do agree that the limitation could be spelled out a little stronger.
If you do a pull request on the documentation file on github you can just add this yourself. NCW will skim though and see that it looks reasonable, then integrate it.

I've resorted to doing a sync of all my photos to a folder on drive directly with rclone. And then syncing that directory with google photos via rclone to make them accessible within the photos app. This works well and I just use the drive folder as my backup. I'd caution using google photos itself as a backup at all except perhaps a backup of last resort. They do offer google takeout to help pull the photos off of google photos but I wouldn't trust all of this with something as invaluable as family photos.

How's this look?

The current google API does not allow photos to be downloaded at original resolution. This is very important if you are, for example, relying on "Google Photos" as a backup of your photos. You will not be able to use rclone to redownload original images. You could use 'google takeout' to recover the original photos as a last resort

That seems reasonable.

The only thing I would add is that link to the Google issue both to allow users to deep-dig into the problem and also help put pressure on google to get it fixed.

This link is referenced somewhere else on that page already I believe, so it may be enough to link it once if you insert this nearby in a way that makes sense. Trust your judgement on this :smiley:

Disclaimer: I'm not someone who OKs this, NCW does, this is just my opinion. He should get notified by the pull request and get to it soon enough.

Perfect - thanks - have merged :slight_smile:

The Photos API is the issue here, we also cannot upload with "High Quality" setting because of it
The workaround for upload is simple, upload to Google Drive first and then use Upload from Drive feature in Photos, and finally delete the files in Drive after uploaded to Photos
For original photos batch download, we can still use Google Takeout but it downloads all the items inside Photos

Does that give an upload in original vs "high quality" mode? I couldn't see it?

Thanks both for this, that's very clear now. Hopefully Google will do something about this soon.

My main reason for using Google Photos is that my Android phone automatically backs up all photos and videos there. This seemed a logical place to also upload photos I take on my DSLR so I have everything in one place, then use rclone to download everything as a backup.

Does anyone have an alternative service that works just as well with Android and rclone?

As long as the videos are not bigger than 1080P and the pictures are not bigger than 16MP, the files will stay exactly the same as original after uploaded from Drive in Photos web frontend (Click "Upload" near the search box and you will see it there)
The files will not count against the quota in Drive in "High Quality" mode

Anything bigger will be compressed after uploaded

Google photos is quite convenient for looking at your photos so you could upload them there anyway.

If you just want an off site backup then you could use b2 or wasabi which are the cheapest at the moment I think.

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