Using Google Photos as your primary photo cloud storage provider? So watch out! Several users have reported seeing unwanted discoloration, similar to a water stain, in their older image uploads.
The problem, which appears to be affecting files uploaded five or more years ago, has left a selection of photos disfigured with strange transparent lines and jumbled arrays of pixels. Google Photos users first flagged the issue in a Google Support Forum (opens in new tab)before similar comments emerged about reddit (opens in new tab).
“These are photos that I know loaded and saved correctly,” wrote one user. “Apparently, there is no standard for which photos are corrupted and which are not.”
um wtf i found a lot of data corruption in my old google photos from 2015?? dozens of pictures with strange tracks and noises pic.twitter.com/r7BOHwySQCSeptember 24, 2022
“I can’t express how depressing this is right now,” another user complained.
Fortunately, it looks like the corruption issue only applies to edited versions of photos. Users who selected the ‘download original’ option reported seeing uncorrupted results, while the discoloration also appears to remove itself when entering edit mode.
The frequency of complaints on the aforementioned support forum has also decreased in the last few hours, suggesting that Google may have already started rolling out a fix. We contacted the company for confirmation.
Still, even if your photos are not affected by the bug, we recommend downloading copies of older files to mitigate the risk of any unwanted corruption in the future.
In more positive news from Google Photos, the platform’s Memories feature recently received its “biggest update since launch”, which brought better customization options, easier content sharing, and a functional redesign.
Google Photos snafu highlights cloud risks
Google has yet to respond to end-user complaints and several questions will need to be clarified. The changes were likely caused by a change in the compression algorithm that is used – as its name implies – to save space. Did Google go too far this time?
Can these changes be rolled back, or were the original copies archived (and therefore potentially recovered)? Why is Google so committed to saving storage space? Is this part of a larger effort to cut costs, as we saw when Google ended its popular free unlimited photo storage last year and convinced many early G Suite users to switch to paid services?
A hard lesson to be learned after the dust has settled is not to put all your eggs in one basket. It’s worth backing up all your photos to a secondary cloud storage provider (like iDrive Photos or Amazon Photos) and getting external storage (like a NAS or an external hard drive) or better yet, a Blu-ray burner. ray.