Google Photos: The free photo service’s automatic deduplication creates challenges

Yeah, we all know what Google Photos is. Another cloud based service from Google, and one that other cloud providers like Flickr find it difficult to compete with. I was quite keen on Flickr, but they have their own issues, like that people outside the US have no rights under the DMCA, anyone can send a takedown request for a photo and they will just delete the photo without notifying the account holder at all.
I don’t think Google is better but they have marketed their service. It has far fewer options than Flickr, which actually had a very good user interface for the people who owned the photos and were publishing them online. One feature that Flickr lacks is automatic deduplication, like when you upload the same photo multiple times.
It turns out that Google Photos has automatic deduplication built in, which is actually a problem when you can’t turn it off. There will be times when you want it on, and times when you don’t. The biggest problem with it not being able to be selected off is that when you upload a newer version of a photo, the old one won’t be deleted. Instead, Google Photos links to the old one. But that means if the old one gets deleted, it will also be deleted in the new photo album as well, or maybe Google will preserve the new link. But the problem is, replacing an older photo with a newer version is potentially problematic. Flickr makes it really easy to do this, but on Google Photos you have to track where the older photo is, and then delete it, before inserting the new one. This also causes the old photo to disappear from every photo album it appears in, and its replacement won’t automatically be put into those albums either. So given that in most map sets there are three different albums – separate ones for diagrams and aerials, and a combined one – the map will have to be taken out of two albums simultaneously and then manually added to both of them
I discovered this when I started to create newer versions of maps online, and the information being changed in them is the filename and the file modification time. Google only works on the photographic data being compared, not the filename or modification time. So that meant that the sort order in the photo album was being dictated by the older copies of maps, not newer ones. So I have to delete older copies of maps out of albums in order to be able to use my local script that sequences file modification times to match filename sequences so that I can remove some of the older maps to insert extra ones, which has happened more than once when creating map sequences. I renumbered some of the existing maps to put more into the sequence than existed when it was first created, so the filenames changed and so did their modification times when a script was run across them.
Of course, there would be no need to run these scripts if Google actually offered more sorting options than by file time, which is the only option provided for in the user interface. That is in fact part of the whole reason why maps are named with a three digit number – because many sorting algorithms that are pure ASCII based rather than numeric (natural sort) cannot do a proper name sort. But you can’t do any kind of filename based sorting in Google Photos.
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