Does Google Drive Reduce Photo Quality?

Whenever you upload a photo, video, or piece of content to the internet, you don’t see all the behind-the-scenes processes that happen whenever one piece of content moves to another place. Downloading and uploading photos on Google Drive can change the content in many ways, and one of those can be a reduction of the quality of the content. 

Google Drive will not reduce the photo quality of your picture if you upload it directly. However, if you upload your image via Google Photos, you will notice a slight reduction in the quality of your photos. 

It’s easy to determine if the quality of your photos is reduced whenever they are uploaded to the internet, so read on to see why Google Drive doesn’t mess with your photos. 

Why Does Photo Quality Get Reduced During Uploads?

Photo quality gets reduced during uploads due to the storage available and the response time needed from the website. Larger photos take time to load, and they also require more storage whenever you upload them. 

If you have good internet that is fast and powerful enough to load your larger photos quickly, it shouldn’t be an issue. 

However, if you have a slow internet speed, then your photo will be reduced further in size so that it can get to you. If you have 2G internet or lower, then you will have smaller and lower-quality photos. 

Additionally, if you are downloading the picture on a phone or tablet, then the size of the image is reduced to fit your screen. 

Finally, depending on where you are uploading photos, you may see a dip in quality for the sake of speed. For example, Facebook automatically compresses images to keep its page speeds high. This can mean a reduction in quality. 

Why Does Google Drive Not Reduce Photo Quality?

The storage and response time on a website like Facebook is why photos uploaded there can be of a lower quality than original. However, this isn’t the case with Google Drive.

Google Drive does not reduce photo quality because it is a cloud-based service where there is a lot of storage space available. Though you may see a reduced quality preview, the file’s size and quality will remain the same. 

The technology behind cloud-based storage maintains the resolution of the photos up to the limit of your storage capacity. After that, you won’t lose photo quality, but rather, you will not be able to upload more images.

Of course, larger files, such as TIFF (Tagged Image File Format used by professionals) take up more of your storage space, so although the quality remains the same (and the file size), you will likely not be able to store as many photos. 

Still, the quality is not lost on Google Drive because you aren’t dealing with the traditional storage limits. 

What About Google Photos?

Google Drive doesn’t reduce the quality of your photos, no matter how you upload them. However, Google Photos can lower the rate of your images, even if you upload them to your Google Drive. 

You can either use the high-quality version of the photo with unlimited bought storage or upload the photo initially. Uploading the picture this way makes it count against your existing Google Drive storage. 

However, Google has started merging its Drive and Photo storage, which can confuse people who want to upload high-quality photos without reducing the quality of those photos. 

How Does This Affect My Phone?

It depends on what type of phone you have because this Google update replaces the ‘High-Quality Storage’ option with a ‘Storage Saver’ Option. 

Rather than using free unlimited storage, either option will count against your 15 GB of original storage, and the Original Quality will use more data. 

You will be able to manage your storage and see how much content you have backed up to your account on your device. No matter the phone you have, you will be able to have all the photos you uploaded in the High-Quality section still there and not counting against your quota. 

For those with the Pixel 3A, 4, 4A, and 5, you will be able to use the free ‘Storage Saver’ option to upload your images. 

Pixel 3 users will have unlimited photo uploads in the original quality if they are all uploaded before the 1st of January, 2022. After that, then you will receive unlimited ‘Storage Saver’ options. 

For those who still own a Pixel 2, you will have just the unlimited ‘Storage Saver’ option. 

The update can be a problem if you have many photos on your Google Drive because it isn’t two separate storage spaces anymore. Instead, it is just the one 15 GB space that you can download until you need to pay for the Google One. 

If you don’t have a ton of photos backed up, then the 15 GB of storage can take up to three years to fill. 

Does Photo Quality Matter?

Now, if you haven’t spent too much time uploading and downloading photos, you might find yourself asking if the quality of your photos really matters. 

Photo quality matters because Google Photos caps the photo resolution at 16 megapixels, so if you take pictures at a megapixel higher than that, you will run into the cap. 

However, unless you are zooming into the photo and looking at extreme levels of detail, you will have no problems with the quality of your photos. 

Most of the time, the photo quality is dependent on your computer and your internet. If you have a good computer, you don’t need to be concerned about the quality of your photos. 

Also, if you aren’t uploading dozens of photos to your Google Drive, you shouldn’t worry about the 15 GB cap. 


You won’t need to worry about any reduction in the photo quality if you want to upload a lot of high-quality images to your Google Drive. 

You will need to worry about the size of the photo and how much of your data allowance it will take up, but otherwise, the quality will remain the exact same, and you can enjoy your photos at that quality whenever you pull them up next.

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