May 172009

I’ve had a few emails from Picasa users lately that got me worried. They said that they uploaded some photos to their web albums then deleted them off their computer.


NO! Picasa Web Albums is not a way to backup or store your photos. It is a way to share your photos with others over the Internet. If you want an online storage website, we recommend Carbonite.

Photo size, and file size, is important
When you upload photos to Picasa Web Albums, you should be using a much smaller size than your original photo. My camera is a 6.3 megapixel camera – yours may be more or less. That means a picture taken by my camera at highest resolution will have 6.3 million pixels – the little dots. Usually that’s 3,072 pixels wide by 2048 high. When a photo is displayed on a computer screen (which is the whole purpose of Picasa Web Albums) an 800 by 600 pixel picture looks big.

Most computer monitors are set to 1024 pixels wide, so an 800 wide picture will take up 80% of the screen. I upload my photos at the 1024 pixel setting. This is 1/3 of the pixels in my original photo. This also means the file size is a lot smaller. I have several hundred photos online and I’m only using 60% of my alloted 1Gigabyte of free space.

Deleting your original photo because you have it uploaded to a web album is like throwing away your original Van Gogh painting because you have a copy print.

Even if you upload to Picasa Web Album at full size, it will be compressed, and the result is not as good as your original. If you ever want to print it, you’ll want your original.

Who’s in Control?
But, probably the main point though, is that once you’ve uploaded your pictures to a free website like Picasa Web Albums, things could happen to them beyond your control. I’ve heard of people who had Web Albums that had been tagged as violating the Terms of Service and were then deleted by Google. Even if it’s a mistake, it can take a long time to clear it up. I know other websites that got hacked and the content destroyed. Admittedly, this is unlikely, but if you still had your pictures on your computer, it’s a simple matter of re-uploading them.

So, what is a good procedure?
Here’s what I do:

  1. Transfer pictures from camera to computer. Keep them all in folders by month.(Member Tutorial Video:Import from Camera)
  2. Upload just a sampling of the best ones to Picasa Web Albums to share with others.(Member Tutorial Video:Upload Photos to the Web)
  3. Backup-Copy all photos for each month to a CD (or DVD if CD isn’t big enough) Store CD in a safe place.(Member Tutorial Video:Backup your Photos to CD)
  4. Each year I move all photos for prior year to external hard drive. This external hard drive is usually connected to my computer – so, when I’m in Picasa I have access to all years.(Member Tutorial Video:Backup to External Hard Drive)

You don’t have to follow that exact procedure – just make sure you follow a procedure that allows you to work with all your pictures, share a few of them, and have a duplicate set of all your originals in case catastrophe hits.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

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  8 Responses to “Don’t Delete your Original Photos”

  1. So, if I have made this horrible mistake of uploading my photos then deleting the originals, is there anything I can do to uncompress the photos when I download them from google+ so I have the original resolution back?

    • Afraid not. You only uploaded 2048 pixels – you can’t get back pixels that weren’t uploaded.

  2. Hi Picasa Geeks

    I’ve got a huge problem, it seems Picasa has deleted 1700 photos both from Picasa its self and my computer. It popped up saying that it was compressing photos to make space while I was in the programme and then the folder disappeared I then checked my computer and folder was gone.

    On top of it all it was my child’s photo album, is there any way to recover this Its literally disappeared has it compressed it so much that its never coming back ?

    Please help


  3. can’t find the info i need on these FAQs: is there a way to crop a picture, but still save the original? Because I copied a page of patterns, and for now just want to use 1 pattern on the page. So far when i crop, the entire pic will be saved as changed.

  4. I use picasa web to save my 10000 pictures in full original size:

    I just have to pay only 5€ a year google for an extended capacity on my google account.

  5. […] Even if you have uploaded all your photos to your Web Album, I wouldn’t trust the Web with my originals.  They should be on your computer, and backed up to Disk. see past article: Don’t Delete your Original Photos […]

  6. I agree that Picasa should not be used as sole storage but you can download the originals…

    “In both paid and free accounts, the actual resolution of the photo is maintained (even though a smaller resolution photo may be displayed by the web interface), and the original photo can be downloaded.”
    – source:

  7. Hi, I do love you site so much and the way you have your pictures organized. I have one question I need answered.

    Let’s say I have duplicates and want to delete one of them. Meanwhile I have already posted a picture on my blog. If I delete that picture it is taken off my blog then. I have lost more pictures this way and only when they are taken from Picasa.

    Would you be kind enough to explain this to me and what happens and what to do about it. I have a mac and wonder if that is the problem ? I really will move them all if you can explain it to me.

    Thank you. Connie

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