Google Drive vs. Google Photos: What Are the Main Differences?

Google Drive vs. Google Photos

Google Drive vs. Google Photos: What Are the Main Differences?

Key Points

  • Google Drive and Google Photos are two great options for photo management and cloud storage.
  • Google Drive is a cloud storage service that also allows you to store photos, while Google Photos is specifically designed for managing and editing photos.
  • Both services offer 15GB of free storage, with the option to upgrade for more storage.
  • Google Drive is more versatile, allowing you to upload and store various file types, while Google Photos is primarily focused on storing and backing up photos and videos.
  • Google Drive offers folder organization, while Google Photos uses a timeline-based system to automatically sort photos by date taken.

When it comes to photo management and cloud storage, you have a lot of different options available. Two great choices are Google Drive and Google Photos.

Essentially, Google Drive is a cloud storage service that also lets you store photos, while Google Photos is designed to help you manage and edit your photos. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the two services, so you can decide which is best for you, Google Drive vs Google Photos. 

Google Drive vs. Google Photos: Side-by-Side Comparison

Google DriveGoogle Photos
First LaunchedApril 24, 2012May 28, 2015
Platforms SupportedWindows, macOS, Android, iOSWindows, macOS, Android, iOS
Maximum StorageUp to 15GB, paid plans go up to 2TBUp to 15GB, paid plans go up to 2TB
PriceStarts at $6/mo for 30GB pooled storageStarts at $1.99/mo for 100GB

Google Drive vs. Google Photos: What’s the Difference?

Even though both of these services are from Google, and both have the ability to store photos, they serve different needs. Below, we’ll explore the main features that each provides so you can see just how different these two platforms really are. By the end, you’ll be able to determine which service is right for you. 

Storage and Space

When it comes to Google Drive and Google Photos, understanding the storage and space differences between the two applications is crucial. Both services offer you 15GB of free storage, shared across Google products like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos.

When it comes to Google Drive, all of your files, including photos and videos, are stored in their original format and size. This will count towards your Google storage limit.

So, if you want to store high-resolution images or large videos, then you might run out of space quickly. Meanwhile, Google Photos can only be used to store your photos and videos.

Dropbox vs Google Drive
Google Drive offers users 15 GB of free storage, sharing it with Gmail and Google Photos. 

It’s important to note that you only get 15 GB of free storage with both Google Drive and Google Photos. If you want more storage, then you can upgrade to Google One, which increases your total amount of storage. 

You can also upgrade to a paid version of Google Drive called Google Workspace, which will upgrade your storage along with other premium features.

Uploading and Backing Up

In Google Drive, you can upload a variety of file types, like documents, spreadsheets, images, and videos. All you have to do is use the upload button, or simply drag and drop the files into your Google Drive window. You also have the ability to upload multiple files at once. 

On the other hand, Google Photos is primarily designed to store and back up photos and videos from your phone. Once you’ve set up the Google Photos app on your device, it automatically syncs and backs up your media to the cloud.

You can access it on any device by logging into your Google account. However, you can also upload photos directly to Google Photos by clicking the upload button when the app is open.

In terms of backing up your files, Google Drive provides a sync feature that allows you to synchronize files across multiple devices. For instance, if you make changes to a document on your computer, the changes will be reflected wherever you’re logged into your account. 

Google Photos offers a similar syncing feature specifically for your photos and videos. When you install the app on your phone or other devices, you can enable automatic photo and video sync. This will automatically upload any new media to the cloud, making it available across all your devices. 

Managing Photos and Folders

Google Drive gives you the flexibility to create and manage folders for all your files, including photos and videos. This allows you to organize your content however you’d like, making it easy to locate and access specific files when you need them.

Google Photos focuses on your photo collection and uses a different organizational approach. Instead of creating folders, Google Photos relies on a timeline-based system that automatically sorts your photos based on the date they were taken.

This can be a great way to browse through your memories, especially if you have a massive photo collection spanning many years. Additionally, Google Photos gives you the ability to create albums to organize your photos. 

Sharing and Collaboration

Google Drive lets you easily share files, folders, and even entire collections of photos with others. To do this, simply right-click on the item you want to share, select “Share” and enter the email addresses of those you want to grant access to.

You can give them editing, commenting, or viewing privileges, depending on the level of collaboration you require. You can even share a file or folder with a link, allowing anyone with the link to access it. This comes in handy in a work context, especially when you need to share files and resources with multiple team members.

Google Photos
Different forms of machine learning in the Photos service are used to recognize photo contents.

Google Photos offers a similar sharing experience. To share a folder of photos, simply create an album, add your selected photos, and click the share button. You can then share it with others via a link, or even directly through Gmail.

When collaborating, Google Drive offers real-time editing and commenting features within its suite of apps like Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

This allows you and your team to work together on a document simultaneously, seeing each other’s changes in real time. Google Photos doesn’t have the same level of collaborative editing, as it is designed more as an image storage and organization platform.

Editing and Other Advanced Features

Google Photos provides an advanced and more dedicated approach to managing your photos and videos. With its AI-powered search capabilities, it allows you to find specific images easily just by entering keywords or descriptions.

It also automatically groups your photos based on locations, events, people, and other factors, making it easier for you to organize and search your collection.

On the other hand, Google Drive gives you a more generic file management system with basic search capabilities. While you can store and search for photos on Google Drive, it lacks the smart organization features found in Google Photos.

Google Drive and Google Photos also support facial recognition, although Google Photos is better optimized for it. In Google Photos, the facial recognition feature lets you easily search and find pictures of people or animals just by typing their name or a relevant keyword.

It also groups photos of the same person together, making it easy for you to browse your collection. Google Drive also offers facial recognition, but its functionality is limited compared to Google Photos. You may need to manually label people in your photos in Google Drive to use the search feature effectively.

Google Drive vs. Google Photos: 5 Must-Know Facts

  1. Google Drive was started back in 2012 and is over a decade old, while Google Photos came out in 2015.
  2. There’s a free tier of Google Drive available, where you get 15 GB of storage completely free.
  3. Google Drive has over 1 billion users, which makes it one of the most widely used cloud storage tools.
  4. Google Photos has advanced facial recognition features and can identify faces in photos.
  5. Both Google Drive and Google Photos share storage space, although they’re separate services.

Google Drive vs. Google Photos: Which One Should You Use?

In conclusion, both Google Drive and Google Photos are powerful tools for managing your digital content, but they cater to different needs. Google Drive offers comprehensive file storage and collaboration features, making it ideal for various file types and work-related tasks.

Its support for real-time collaboration on documents and robust sharing options makes it a preferred choice for productivity and work-related tasks.

On the other hand, Google Photos is solely dedicated to managing your photos and videos. There are some basic editing features, but the main goal is the storage and organization of your photos. If you use other Google products, then it can be a great easy-to-use solution.

Finally, remember that Google Drive and Google Photos share the same storage quota, so managing your usage across both services is essential. Ultimately, the decision on whether to use Google Drive or Google Photos (or both) will depend on your specific needs for storage, organization, collaboration, and photo management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use Google Drive to store and organize photos?

Yes, Google Drive supports a wide variety of file formats, including JPEG, PNG, GIF, and more. You can create folders and subfolders to organize your photos.

However, while you can store and organize photos in Google Drive, it doesn’t have the photo-specific features that Google Photos does, such as automatic photo categorization or built-in editing tools.

How does the storage limit work for Google Drive and Google Photos?

Google provides 15GB of free storage for each account, which is shared across Google Drive, Google Photos, and Gmail. If you need more space, then you can purchase additional storage via Google One.

Can you share files and collaborate with others in Google Drive?

Yes, you can share individual files or entire folders with others by providing their email addresses or by generating a shareable link. You can also control their level of access, allowing them to either view, comment on, or edit the shared files. Collaboration is particularly strong across Google’s entire productivity suite, where changes are synced in real-time.

Can you share photos or albums with others in Google Photos?

Yes, Google Photos allows you to share individual photos, videos, or entire albums. You can generate a shareable link, share directly through email or other apps, or even create shared albums where multiple people can contribute photos.

Can you use Google Drive and Google Photos at the same time?

Absolutely. Google Drive and Google Photos are separate but interconnected services. You can use Google Drive for general file storage and collaboration, and Google Photos for storing and organizing your photos and videos. Both services can be used simultaneously and complement each other well.

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