Do photos stay on Google Photos if deleted from phone?

Google Photos is a popular cloud storage service that many people use to back up photos and videos from their mobile devices. A common question people have is whether photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos will still be available in their online account even if they delete them from their phone’s local storage.

The Short Answer

Yes, photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos will remain in your online account even if you delete them from your phone’s local storage. Deleting photos/videos from your phone does not delete them from your Google Photos library.

The Long Answer

When you upload photos and videos from your phone to your Google Photos account, you are creating copies of those files that are stored remotely in the cloud. Google Photos and your phone’s local storage are two separate systems. Anything you do to the photos/videos on one system does not affect the other.

So if you delete a photo or video from your phone’s gallery, photo roll, or local storage, it does not get deleted from Google Photos. The copy stored in the cloud remains there intact. The only way to delete a photo/video from Google Photos is to manually go into your Google Photos account and delete it there.

Some key points:

  • Uploading to Google Photos creates a cloud copy separate from the original on your phone.
  • Changes made to photos/videos on your phone do not affect the Google Photos copy.
  • Deleting from your phone does not delete the Google Photos copy.
  • You need to manually delete items in Google Photos to remove them from the cloud.

What happens when you delete photos from your phone?

When you delete photos or videos from your phone’s local storage, either individually or in bulk, here is what happens:

  1. The photo/video is removed from your phone’s local storage. This includes the camera roll, galleries, folders, etc. It is deleted from your phone.
  2. The photo/video still exists untouched in your Google Photos account online.
  3. If you deleted the photo/video from your phone recently, it may still appear temporarily in your Google Photos app, but only until the app refreshes.
  4. Once the Google Photos app refreshes data from the cloud, the deleted photo/video will disappear from the app on your phone as well since it no longer exists locally.
  5. The actual photo/video continues to be stored in your Google Photos library online and you can access it by logging into your account on a computer or other device.

In summary, locally deleting photos/videos only removes them from your phone. Your Google Photos cloud library remains unchanged. The photos and videos are still safely stored in the cloud.

Is there any way photos get deleted from Google Photos when deleting from phone?

There are a couple rare cases in which deleting photos from your phone could result in them getting deleted from Google Photos as well:

1. You have Google Photos sync turned on

Google Photos has a syncing option that will synchronize any changes made to your local photos/videos with your Google Photos library. If you have sync turned on, then deleting photos/videos from your phone will delete them from the cloud after syncing.

Sync is off by default, but if you have ever turned it on, double check that it is disabled if you want backups in Google Photos to persist independently.

2. The photos were never actually backed up

Keep in mind Google Photos will only retain copies of photos/videos that were successfully uploaded and backed up to the cloud. If you delete something from your phone before it finishes uploading, then there will not be a cloud copy to preserve.

So the only time deleting local photos results in them disappearing from Google Photos is if you had sync on, or the deletions occurred before the backup completed.

How to check if deleted photos still exist in Google Photos

If you want to double check whether photos or videos you deleted from your phone still exist in Google Photos, here are some ways to confirm:

  • Open the Google Photos website and view your library there. Anything not deleted will still appear.
  • Open the Google Photos app on a non-phone device like a computer or tablet. Non-deleted items will be viewable.
  • Log into your Google account on a new phone and open the Photos app. Cloud-deleted items will show up.
  • Search for the file name or subject matter – if it appears in search results, then it still exists in the cloud.

As long as auto-sync is disabled, you can be assured that anything visible in these ways was not affected by deleting from your phone’s local storage.

How to delete photos from Google Photos

If you do ever want to remove photos or videos completely from Google Photos, here is how to delete them:

  1. Open the Google Photos app or go to
  2. Navigate to the photo/video you want to remove
  3. Click on the 3-dot menu icon next to the item
  4. Select ‘Delete’ and confirm you want to delete the item

This will permanently delete the item from your Google Photos account. Note that trash functionality does exist so you can potentially recover accidentally deleted items if you act quickly.

For bulk deletions, you can select multiple files and delete them all at once. Or visit your account Trash to purge multiple items.


Deleting photos or videos from your phone’s local storage does not affect copies stored in your Google Photos account. Items backed up to the cloud remain available online until explicitly deleted from Google Photos itself. The only exceptions are if auto-sync is enabled or items are deleted locally before backup completes.

To summarize:

  • Uploading to Google Photos stores a separate cloud copy
  • Deleting from phone only affects local phone copy
  • Cloud copies in Google Photos remain unless deleted from there
  • You can view Google Photos on other devices to check for deleted phone photos
  • Turn off sync and allow backups to fully upload for independent cloud copies

So rest assured that photos you have backed up are safe in the cloud even if deleted from your phone! Only deleting within Google Photos itself will remove them for good.