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I'm on the Samsung A32 5G on Android 12. I was curious about when exactly Google Photos will automatically delete backed-up photos and it says:

  • If photos are saved for 60 days
  • If your device’s storage is less than 25%

Though I'm a bit confused about what these conditions mean exactly, is it referring to my phone's device storage having less than 25% space and that's when it's deleted? Where are photos saved for 60 days?

Does Google Photos or its backup actually take up any additional space on my physical phone, or is it all on my Google Drive?

If the Google Photos are saved on my Drive, does that mean a backup will take up twice as much space as before? If photos are already uploaded to Google Drive, what's the point of making a copy?

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Does Google Photos or its backup actually take up any additional space on my physical phone, or is it all on my Google Drive?

Google Photos backs up the photos to the cloud storage (shared quota with Gmail and Google Drive), not as Drive backups, and not on the device. It can be accessed at https://photos.google.com/.

If the Google Photos are saved on my Drive, does that mean a backup will take up twice as much space as before? If photos are already uploaded to Google Drive, what's the point of making a copy?

The backed up photos will take up the same or less size on the cloud storage, depending on the Google Photos' backup option. There's no backup copy on the device, other than the original images in case the user needs to process or do something with the images. On the other hand, Drive backups don't take up storage quota.

[...] is it referring to my phone's device storage having less than 25% space and that's when it's deleted? Where are photos saved for 60 days?

Yes, it's when the device storage is less than 25%. The photos saved are the original photos on the device (as mentioned above) that have been backed up to the cloud storage.

Note that the automatic cleanup is a feature of the Files by Google app as mentioned on its help center. Also, note that it's only available on Pixel devices. On Samsung and other devices, the "Smart Storage" setting is unavailable.

Tested on Google Pixel 3a, Android 12; and Samsung Galaxy M21, Android 12.

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  • Thank you for the answer! So just to confirm, all google photos are only saved on my drive, and backups will also be saved there taking up almost the same amount of space. Will the backup images be lower quality if they're smaller? I don't have Files by Google, but what does it mean by "saved" files? How is it different from 'unsaved' files? What's the point of a backup if it gets deleted in 60 days? Is 'internal' storage referring to your device, or cloud storage on drive?
    – ShangWang
    Nov 24, 2022 at 16:59
  • @ShangWang "all google photos are only saved on my drive" only if you turn on the "back up & sync" on all folders from Google Photos. "backups will also be saved [on Drive] taking up almost the same amount of space" Drive backup doesn't store photos, but Drive backup also doesn't take up storage quota. "Will the backup images be lower quality if they're smaller?" it depends on the Google Photos' backup setting. "but what does it mean by "saved" files?" it means the photos on the devices that have been backed up to the cloud.
    – Andrew T.
    Nov 25, 2022 at 3:28
  • @ShangWang "What's the point of a backup if it gets deleted in 60 days?" it's the original files on the device that are deleted, not the backup. "Is 'internal' storage referring to your device, or cloud storage on drive?" internal storage is the device storage.
    – Andrew T.
    Nov 25, 2022 at 3:29
  • Thank you for the further clarification. In that case "backups" will only take up space in my google drive, but google photos themselves won't? In that case, are the google photos I see on the app just supposed to showcase the existing photos in my gallery and that's it? They don't take up any space/make copies unless I turn on the backup option?
    – ShangWang
    Nov 26, 2022 at 4:23
  • @ShangWang correct. Google Photos is just like other Gallery apps, showing photos currently on the device. It won't back up anything unless the backup option is turned on.
    – Andrew T.
    Nov 26, 2022 at 5:03

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