Since the Google Photos App syncs with the Photos app on your phone, deleting photos from the Google App can, in some instances, inadvertently delete all copies of the photo from your phone. If you find yourself in this situation, there are several options available to recover your deleted photos.
In the first 60 days, deleted photos can be restored from the Bin folder of the Google Photos app. You may also find copies of photos in the deleted folder of your phone’s photos app. Check whether you shared your photos with friends, family, or on social media platforms.
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Restore photos from the Bin of the Google Photos app.
Anything deleted from Google Photos will be held in the trash can for 60 days. In that period, if you click on Library in the Google Photos App menu, open the Bin, you can restore your photos simply by selecting them and pressing restore.
Check the Bin folder of your phone’s photos app.
If the 60 days have passed, or restoring from trash is not an option, what are your alternatives? You should start by also checking the deleted items folder of your Phone’s photos app. Since the syncing between the Google Photos app and the photos app on your phone removes both copies of your photos, there’s every chance your phone has moved your photos to its own version of the Bin folder. On iPhone and iPad, deleted photos and videos are held for 30 days in the Recently Deleted folder, which can be found under Albums in the Photos app.
Recover photos from an iCloud backup.
If you’re an iPhone user you may well have a copy of your photos saved to iCloud. You can check this by opening the Settings app, clicking on your name, choosing iCloud, and seeing if Photos is enabled. If it is, browse to iCloud.com log in and open the photos app to see if a copy of your photos has been backed up.
For Android users, if you are not backing up to Google, it might be your phone’s manufacturer has an alternate backup facility. Here’s a link to the support sites for phone manufacturers that use Android.
Recover photos from an iTunes or Windows backup.
It’s not as common nowadays, but historically iPhone users would sync their phones to iTunes, part of the process included the option to download a copy of the photos held on your phone to the Photos app on a Mac or the Pictures folder on a Windows PC. This is still possible if you connect your phone to your computer, so it’s worth searching your computer for what photos if any, you have saved locally.
Check if your photos are shared with family or a friend.
The Google Photos app has options to share individual albums or your whole photos library by linking your photos account to contacts through their email address. One of the reasons they offer these features is for this exact scenario. For more information on how sharing works in the Google Photos App, I made this video:
If you have shared an album with friends or family, it’s highly likely they have a copy of some, if not all, your photos stored in their own Google account. Ask them to check their own Google Photos account to find out.
Find copies of photos on social media platforms.
At this point, if you haven’t managed to recover some or all your photos, your options are beginning to look limited. If you regularly post photos to Instagram or Facebook you can try searching back through your history. If the photos you’ve lost are from a social event, it’s highly likely someone you know has a copy or similar photo.
Use recovery software to restore deleted photos.
I’ve read on some forums of people recommending recovery software to recover deleted photos. While I do not think this would be likely to work on a phone since iOS and Android is both highly protected and app data tends to be sandboxed, the same is not so true of computers. Assuming your photos were once stored on your computer, it might be worth a try. I recommend giving free or freemium software a try first, however, before forking out money.
Contact Google to ask for photos to be restored.
Finally, an option I would recommend, before spending money on recovery software, is getting in contact with Google. There are posts on Reddit of people who have successfully managed to have their data restored by contacting Google directly.
To try this navigate to support.google.com/drive/gethelp. I’ll leave a link to the URL below. Type in your issue, click Next Step followed by Other. Ignore Google’s recommended support pages, and instead click Next Step. You’ll then be given the option to either speak to someone via Live Chat or send an email.
So that is my recommendation for restoring deleted photos from the Google Photos app. While the idea of losing all your memories can be frightening, recovering them shouldn’t be an issue as long as you take action within 60 days.