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How secure is Google photos?

2019, internet and social media are now integral to our daily lives. Every picture we take, every place we visit, needs to be up on the plethora of social networking sites we’re subscribed to; as if no experience is really complete without it. We love to keep our friends and followers updated, make them aware of every little detail. At hindsight, it might seem that we are more keen on putting everything out in the open, instead of keeping things private. Yet, interestingly, we are now more paranoid about privacy than we have ever been.

Photos and videos are the most sensitive blocks of data on our devices. Thanks to our obsession with capturing every moment, the physical storage on our devices isn’t always enough. So, more often than not, we turn to cloud storage for uninterrupted preservation. Google, the pioneer in the industry, has developed an app to cater to our obsession – Google Photos.

The service automatically uploads all of your media — photos and videos — to the cloud for free, without asking you to spend a single dime, given none of your photos exceed 16 MP and videos don’t go beyond 1080P. However, if you happen to be one of those people who love their photos and videos in all their glory, they also offer paid, extended storage beyond the initial 15 GB quota.

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On paper, subscribing to Google Photos seems like a no-brainer, but there are still a couple of things to consider before committing to the lucrative service. For most people, it’s a necessary service, but there are still a few concerns about how secure the platform actually is.

Where are photos and videos stored?

Google Photos, like other Google services, requires you to have a Google account. Once you successfully create one, you’ll be allowed to upload your images to the cloud. So, every photo you store will be under your account only.

Who can see your photos?

By default, Google Photos keeps all of your media private. So, unless you specifically share the photo or album with people, your media is only for you to see. Google is also very keen on providing the optimum level of security to its users, so, it has developed a system that’s almost impossible to hack. Even Google’s staff won’t get to sniff around your photos.

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Where can you access it?

Ease of access is one of Google Photos’ strongest suits. Doesn’t matter what device you own, you can get hold of your precious snaps in a heartbeat. If the dedicated app isn’t handy enough for you, you can go to https://photos.google.com on your browser to access your photos.

How to increase security?

We’ve already covered how much Google values security, but if you want, you can add another added layer of security to your account by enabling 2-Step Verification. The first step is obviously your password, the next one can be a prompt on your phone or a text/call alert. If you choose the former, you’ll be required to tap the prompt to help prove the authenticity of your login. The latter, on the other hand, will give you a six-digit code to enter on the screen where you’re signing in.

Will they show up in Google search?

Google doesn’t make your photos public, so, it most definitely won’t show up in Google search.

How to remove a photo completely?

Removing a photo from Google Photos is fairly straightforward. Just select the photo and move it to trash. Then, go to trash and empty it to get rid of the picture for good. And yes, the process is irreversible.

It’s beyond doubt that Google Photos is a secure service. The company will not make your photos public, show them in Google search, or use your photos for endorsement without taking explicit permission. However, as we all know, nothing in the world is free, and this service is no exception.

Like every other Google product, Photos, too, comes under Google Terms of Service, meaning that by using the service, you permit Google to learn from your photos. It is primarily used to improve the ads directed at you; so that you are only shown ads that are relevant to you. It also uses the photos stored in your account to improve suggestions, to make Google Assistant smarter than it was the day before.

We have seen a comprehensive rundown of the service, but ultimately, it boils down to your trust in the company; whether you have faith in their assurances. If you are already a part of the Google ecosystem, which most of us are, Google Photos doesn’t pose any added “threat” you aren’t aware of.

So, it’s only about keeping your primary Google account secure, understanding that the company will use your data for ads and suggestions, and making the most of the unlimited storage the American multinational is offering.

That was a breakdown of Google Photos; the cheat sheet before putting your photos up on the cloud.