If you’ve been using Google Photos for a long time, you may want to check some of your older photos. Multiple reports are coming in from worried users with pictures that have become corrupted by strange visual artifacts.
The problem seems to affect photos that have been backed up to Google Photos several years ago. According to a growing number of complaints in this Google support thread and similar comments on Reddit, several users have found images uploaded between 2002 and around 2015 now appear defaced with strange transparent ‘contours’ as in these examples.
One user writes, “Older photos in my drive have started becoming corrupted. Issue looks like a water stain with massive discoloration and data loss. Is there any way to revert this?”
Thankfully, it appears the corruption may not be permanent as it appears only edited versions of photos are affected. Selecting the ‘download original’ option will deliver a clean, uncorrupted, image. The unwanted artifacts also seem to disappear when entering edit mode on an affected photo.
Another user notes that images downloaded via Google Takeout arrive with a clean original version as well as a corrupted edit, even though they claim not to have edited the photo. This suggests that the issue is related to Google automatically processing older images in such a way as to produce a rogue edited version with the unwanted visual artifacts, while leaving the original intact.
As an aside: even if you’re not experiencing any issues right now it’s a good idea to download a copy of your photos, as you never know when a more serious problem might arise in the future. This is especially true for users with photo libraries going back over several years.
According to the same support thread, the issue seems to be slowly starting to rectify itself, suggesting a fix is already being rolled out from Google’s end. So, if your photos are affected, I’d sit tight for now. However, if the problem persists over the next few days, I suggest raising the issue in the Google Photos Help center.
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