Why has Google deleted my photos?

Having your photos suddenly deleted from Google services like Google Photos or Google Drive can be alarming. There are a few potential reasons why this may happen.

You exceeded your storage quota

Google provides free storage for photos and files, but this storage is limited. For Google Photos, you get 15GB of free storage shared across Gmail, Drive, and Photos. If you exceed that quota, Google may start deleting your oldest photos to free up space.

To check your storage usage:

  • Open the Google Photos app or go to photos.google.com
  • Click on your profile icon in the top right
  • Select “Storage” to see your usage and capacity

If you’re over your limit, you’ll need to either purchase more storage or delete content to get back under the 15GB cap. Otherwise, Google will continue deleting your oldest photos as needed.

You deleted a Google account

If you deleted a Google account that contained photos in Google Photos, those photos would be permanently deleted as well. This can happen if you had multiple Google accounts and got rid of one that had images stored in it.

Unfortunately, there is no way to recover deleted photos if the account they were associated with no longer exists.

Sync errors between devices

Google Photos relies on syncing between devices to keep your images up to date everywhere. Sometimes sync errors can occur that result in photos being deleted:

  • If you delete photos on one device, a glitch during syncing could cause those deletions to be propagated to other devices.
  • Connecting a new device to Google Photos and syncing may result in duplicates being deleted if there are conflicts.
  • Sync conflicts between cloud storage and local device storage could mistakenly tell Google Photos to delete images.

If this was accidental, you may be able to recover deleted photos using Google Takeout to export your Google Photos data archive and find images that were removed.

Bugs or glitches

Like any software, Google Photos can have bugs that affect photo storage. For example:

  • Uploading bugs when moving photos from another service into Google Photos could cause images to be corrupted or deleted.
  • Display glitches may hide photos that still exist in your library.
  • App crashes while editing images could result in data loss.

If you suspect a technical glitch caused missing photos, reporting the issue to Google may help recover your images if backups are available.

Manual deletions

In some cases, photos may have been manually deleted from Google Photos or your synced devices:

  • You may have accidentally selected and deleted photos you wanted to keep.
  • Someone who had access to your devices or accounts could have removed images.
  • Some apps allow deleting photos from Google Photos directly.

If you or someone else manually removed photos very recently, it may be possible to restore them from the Google Photos trash for up to 60 days.

Copyright or policy violations

Google will delete photos that violate their content or usage policies. This includes:

  • Illegal content like child exploitation imagery.
  • Copyright infringement such as sharing professional photos you did not take.
  • Non-personal usage like stock photography or image hosting.

If your photos were removed for policy violations, you will get an email notification from Google explaining the reason for deletion.

How can I recover deleted photos?

If you catch it soon enough, you may be able to recover deleted photos:

  • Restore from Google Photos trash – Photos deleted within the last 60 days can be restored if still in the trash.
  • Use Google Takeout – Export your Google Photos archive to find missing images.
  • Extract from device backups – Photos may exist in backups extracted from your phone, computer, or external drives.
  • Retrieve from cloud backups – If you had another cloud service backing up Google Photos, the photos may exist there.

But if too much time has passed or the photos were permanently deleted, recovery becomes very difficult to impossible.

How can I avoid losing photos again?

To avoid mysteriously losing photos in the future, here are some best practices:

  • Enable backup services – Use a secondary cloud service like Dropbox to back up your Google Photos library.
  • Sync selectively – If you have multiple devices, pick one main device to connect to Google Photos.
  • Export important photos – Manually export photos that matter most in case they disappear from the cloud.
  • Review activity history – Check Google account history to see if photos were deleted manually.
  • Monitor storage usage – Make sure you don’t exceed your Google Photos quota.

Can I get compensation from Google for lost photos?

Google’s terms of service indicate they are not liable for lost or deleted content from their services. Reasons they give include:

  • Issues are due to users exceeding storage quotas.
  • Problems are caused by user errors like accidental deletions.
  • Technical errors are not due to gross negligence on Google’s part.

While you can contact Google support and see if they are willing to make an exception, generally you cannot claim compensation or damages for photos lost due to Google Photos issues.


Having photos deleted from Google Photos can be upsetting, especially if they are irreplaceable memories. The most common reasons for this happening include storage quota limits, sync errors, bugs, manual deletions, or policy violations.

If caught soon enough, you may be able to recover lost photos through Google Takeout, device backups, or the Google Photos trash. To avoid issues in the future, you can enable multiple backups, monitor your storage usage, and be selective about syncing.

Unfortunately Google is not liable for deleted photo damages in most cases. Your best option is being proactive to prevent losses using Google Photos responsibly and wisely.