Google Backup and Sync is Now Available

I have written dozens of newsletter articles explaining why genealogists need to frequently make backups of their important information. You can see a list of my past articles by starting at: Actually, I will suggest that almost all computer users should make frequent backups, not just genealogists. However, genealogists often spend hundreds of hours gathering and saving information. It seems a shame when someone sends me an email message and states, “My hard drive just crashed and I lost 20 years of my genealogy records. What should I do?”

There is no good answer to that question. However, a simple backup plan will avoid the problem entirely.

A new vendor is now offering backup and restore services for Windows and Macintosh. You may have heard of this company before: Google.

Google Backup and Sync is a new service from the search engine giant that builds upon other services that have been offered by Google for some time: Google Photos and Google Drive. The earlier services have now been combined into one and some new functionality has also been added to simplify the process of making frequent backups.

With Google Backup and Sync, the user can choose to back up photos and videos only, or back up all files in selected folders. For instance, you might want to back up your genealogy data files, family photographs, but not the stock market reports you have been saving. Google Backup and Sync allows the user to be selective. The standard Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders are selected by default. You may uncheck any of those, and also may add other folders to the backup process as well.

Google Backup and Sync is only available for Windows and Macintosh. There is no option for Android or for Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch) systems. However, unlike many other backup services, Google Backup and Sync will back up the pictures and files on a phone, camera, SecureDigital (SD) card, or other device that is connected to your computer, assuming that device shows its available files in Windows Explorer or Macintosh Finder in the Windows or Macintosh computer.

Google offers 15 gigabytes (15,000 megabytes… that’s a lot!) of storage space for free. If that is not enough, you can upgrade to 100 gigabytes of storage space for $1.99 per month, 1 terabyte (that is 1,000 gigabytes or 1,000,000 megabytes) of storage space for $9.99 per month, 10 terabytes of storage space for $99.99 per month, 20 terabytes of storage space for $199.99 per month or 30 terabytes of storage space for $299.99 per month.

I suspect most genealogists will be happy with either the free 15 gigabyte option or the 100 gigabyte of storage space option that costs a modest $1.99 a month. You can’t buy hard drives or flash drives at that price!

The pricing of photo and video files is counted a bit differently from other files. In fact, the method of calculating prices hasn’t changed from the earlier Google Photos pricing. Photo and video files uploaded to Google Photos in “high quality” do not use your Google Drive quota. However, photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos in the “original quality” do use your Google Drive quota. The “high quality” photos and videos that are uploaded to Google Photos are compressed to 16 megapixels for photos (up to 24 inches x 16 inches) and 1080p for videos.

Google claims that the new service is much easier to use than most of the other backup services available today.

Disclaimer: I haven’t personally checked out that claim of being easy to use. I already have been using other cloud-based backup and restore services for years and am happy with them. I am not planning to switch to Google Backup and Sync myself as I don’t feel it offers any improvements over what I already have in place. However, if you do not presently have a cloud-based backup service or if you are unhappy with the service you are presently using, I will suggest that you might want to check out Google Backup and Sync.

Do you have backups? If not, you can learn more about Google Backup and Sync at:


Just to put the pricing in perspective – I’m paying BackBlaze $50 a year to back up (currently) 2.1TB.

Google seems like it would want $100 per month for that!


My problem is that my bandwidth is limited to 10G per MONTH, so backing up in the “cloud” is not possible if I wish to do any online research. If you can come up with a solution that allows me to back up without using my DISH bandwidth, that’d be great! Until then, I’ll just use my two external hard drives to which I back up, every time you remind me (first of the month).


I wonder about genea-data that is in the form of a database…and actually wonder about that in my paid back up system. Is it saved in a format that is retrievable on a different computer if I install my program on a new computer? Concerned because the flash drive back up using the program and backing up from my current computer shows the data being saved in “Word!”


Before signing up for any cloud storage services you would be well advised to look closely at the T&C’s. You may find things like extremely high retrieval costs, storage services that have rights to your data, storage services that may change your data (like photos), extra charges for …. etc.


So, if I have, say, a 100 MB FTM data file to backup, I must first copy it and then paste it in to my Google “Backup and Sync” Folder. This adds 100 MB to my computer’s HDD usage. This sounds like how Dropbox works, and Dropbox only charges $100/year for 1 TB. Google, on the other hand, is $10 per month ($120/year). In addition, Dropbox has extra features. Did I miss something?


This article raised questions for me – a decidedly technophobic. I have mainly been taking photos on my Android cell phone lately, rather than stand alone cameras. My cell provider is Google Project Fi. I believed that all the photos I have been taking are being stored in the cloud – safe and sound. But, do I now need to add Google Photos to my desktop (Windows) computer in order for them to be secure now that Google Photos and Google Drive have been combined into Google Backup and Sync?


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