First let me start off by saying this process will take a very long time. I took me about three months to finish. I was working with about 20,000 photos. I do not have the luxury of sitting in front of the computer and working for hours and hours at a time. So if you can squeeze in about 2 -3 hours a day it would be worth your while to work on your own project. That is just my personal findings. As in I will never finish this I should have not started this in the first place. If you are going to start the project there are only a few things I recommend you do.
First download a free program called XYPLORER. This program has some features you will wish you had in working with JPEG, GIF, PNG etc. files. Also you will be able to single click a photo and not have to use Ctrl. It also has the ability to do a split screen for you. Drag and drop between folders, and last but not least my favorite feature of the program Branch View. Branch View will let you open all the folders and see what is in them then sort by whatever you want then cut, copy or past them to where ever you want.
Second you will want to do is figure out where you are going to store all of your pictures. I personally use SMUGMUG as I do take a ton of pictures with a SLR and other cameras also. I have learned the hard way that single storage location for everything is the best way to go if you can manage it. If not have a single to store everything and a backup. Since SMUGMUG photos and videos and stored with Amazon Cloud Storage solutions I know everything I put in there will be safe. So I have no other place but there for photo storage.
The third thing you will want is time silence is nice but music headphone or whatever you do to concentrate find it and do it. So there is my final words before I begin posting the instruction. Good luck and take your time.
1. Download all of your google photos. They will come in Zip files. Unzip the files one by one. After you open put the pictures in your photo folder and delete both the zip file and empty folder. I recommend putting all of your picture files in a single folder. Label it something very obvious like Google Photo Picture Project. Here you will put all of your photos from google and all of your other sources where pictures are stored. You may have a folder with 4000 photos or more don’t worry just put everything in one folder then sort by date. Use the XYPLORER application or windows explorer to do this. Do a sort by time taken in other words use the day the picture was taken not when it was downloaded or modified or edited. This is where the confusion will start. So focus on the date and then go to the next step.
2. After everything is sorted you will want to see what the pictures you are sorting. You will find a lot of nonsense stuff. If you want to keep screenshot or whatever you seem to have ton of that is up to you. I recommend deleting the stuff you can do without. It will make the project go a lot faster. Once that is done. You will want to rename the files. I used the XYPLORER program for that. You can use file explorer in widows it’s up to you. Why file renaming you are probably asking. The short of it is when you are sorting through thousands of files and walk way and comeback later or days later. You will know what is left to do and where you left off. I used the same format I use for my music. Something like this. hall_memorial_park_june_2015 I highly recommend you do not get to specific on naming. Just something that you can see and know where and when you look at it. File naming will also be nice when and if you ever print out pictures that you are taking. On the back of the pictures you will see the info. I use SMUGMUG printing services and when I get my pictures back I see the info on the back of the pictures. Very Nice! If you don’t know how to rename your files just highlight all the files in a group or event whatever you are sorting by and when they are all blue go to the top one with the earliest date and type what you are going to name it. Then the rest will name for you automatically. Hint- if you want to change the numbering sequence you can. Just highlight again and change the number in the brackets. This is nice when you find new pictures later on down the line and want to add them to the collection. A quick note SMUGMUG does not let you change filenames so if you are adding pictures to a gallery you will want to do this to keep everything in order. Now that everything is named put them in folders. Create blank folders name them something relevant to the pictures you are uploading and start dragging and dropping. XYPLORER works great with split screen mode. You are going to delete the folder after they are empty.
3. Now you will have everything sorted by date and files named accordingly. At this point it may be days or weeks from your initial start date. Now as I mention before I use SMUGMUG so this is where the majority of time consummation comes in. In SMUGMUG create your folders and galleries and start uploading. This could take days or even weeks depending on the time you have to spend if you are doing video and huge files. There is a limit to how many you can upload at a time. Speed also comes into play. I have a fast connection 150mbps but upload is always slower at 20mbps. So sit back and wait it out.
4. You are about done. After all the pictures are uploaded the process is complete. Check your folders and naming. Hopefully everything is obvious as black and white to anyone who is reading the file name. Later on when you do tags or file location data there is no second guessing. If you are going to put your pictures back in Google then read below. Otherwise you are done assuming the pictures are now in a new location.
Dealing With Duplicate File Names.
Part of the problem I found with Google photo storage was whenever I put stuff in collections or albums I saw the pictures in the main photo area also. So after some time you may forget and add the same picture twice or even three time. Then you will have duplicate files created. When you have thousands of photos this will turn into a nightmare when you want to find stuff. So that is what lead me to this whole project. Now I don’t delete but download everything in google at least once a month. Then I put them in SMUGMUG. I keep all the google phone pictures, Instagram, Facebook backup stuff in google so I have something to look at in google photos plus I enjoy the Google Stories that are made and cropped creations. The trick is not to upload any other photos to google just put them in your other location.
How to Search Find and Delete Duplicate File Names
This will very for everyone. But going back to the beginning for a minute. Sorting by date shot is one on of the most important things in this whole project. Sorting by this will find all of the files that are taken by time witch can be a huge savior for you if you have the same problem as me.
You will see files like this: (DMCFNQP) this is a simple file. But you will also see this (DMCFNQP-124665) Well this is the duplicate for that file. How is this you ask? Well believe it or not there is a third file with the number 124665 in it. The DMC is the original file and the numbers represent the date or something else depending on the name. If you do a search you will find another files someplace with the numbers on it. Maybe in this scenario. Original photo, edited photo, and duplicate photo. This is very common in SLR photography at least for me. So what to do next. Well view the pictures and delete the ones that are not wanted. Another thing you may see is perhaps a named photo of the same thing. Like Camping Trip, this could be the original file that you renamed in the first place. If you are dealing with lightroom photos then you will see a lot of these I sure did. As a lightroom uses they recommend not renaming files. This is probably why. The next set of thing you will see is something like (DCMI1246-2) or (DCMI126-2(3) this is another form of duplicate. It is really a simple thing to see and fix. Look at your pictures and open them up so you can see the filenames and photos. Look for patterns. Soon you will see the ones that do not belong. Then you can pick and choose what to delete. I had hundreds of duplicates in some folders. This was very time consuming. So use the XYOLRER Find feature and look for those patterns and delete then like that. In XYPLORER you can undo deletes. I recommend you read a little about it and spend some time with it before removing photos. It is very powerful and you will forget and get lost first if you just jump right in a start using everything. Every user will have their own set of issues with duplicate files. This is just what I ran into. Again take your time. You will want to just say forget it and walk away at time. Come back later or another day and keep going.
My Personal Setup for Photo Storage.
So here is the way I have everything setup and saved. First I have all of my photos stored in SMUGMUG I do not have any pictures on my computer except NEF files stored on my hard drive. Those are also backed up to my One Drive. All of the conversions to JPEG are already in SMUGMUG. I have all of my photos in google from my phone and that is it. Everything is online someplace. Once a month I download all the photos from all the cameras in the house and other locations like other cell phones and video camera and create a folder in SMUGMUG.
I have folders for events that I go to or are happening. Parties that I shoot at etc. Those are all my main folders. Inside I have galleries. The galleries are where photos are kept. Each gallery can hold up to 5000 photos. I have a lot of pictures of my little girls so I have a folder with her name on it and a gallery for 2014 Random Shots and now 2015 Random shots. Inside each one is renamed as (name_2014). They are not specific because they are random pictures. Since she is one years old I can always look at the pictures from that year and it will be easy to find as the years go on. If we do little photo shoots in the backyard or the park I make folders for them as well. Then put the pictures in them. Since we go back to the same places a lot like the park I use the same folder for the year and then make a new one later on. Just rename the photos to identify the date. Use tags if you want. I do not use them myself.
A Few Camera Photo Options.
I have found that if you do not store you pictures on your SD card as soon as you take a picture with on your phone you will be able to edit them in Google Photos in Android. If you store them on your SD card this option will not work. Also it is easier to manage your photos in Google Photos now easier than it was before. Delete and edit from Google Photos. It has some nice options for image edits. Now when you delete form in Google Photos it will delete you main pictures to. Also when you take pictures turn of stabilization this will make the camera take pictures faster as well as not saving to the SD card right away. If you have SD card I recommend from experience to transfer and save to the SD manually. It will be easier to take the SD out and know you are not missing anything you have shot especially if you are saving Instagram and Facebook pics to.
Putting Pictures Back In Google
I want to make one thing clear. I am in no way bashing Google in anyway. I love just about everything Google does. I use Google Music to store and backup my nearly 10,000 mp3 collection of music. So this is just my reality for me. Google does not do well with thousands of pictures. Not yet at least. I also manage someone else’s pictures in the family to. She just takes pictures and I do everything else for her upload to Google make the folders and collections. So I do use it and recommend it to anyone looking for a picture solution. If you are not avid about labeling and sorting and you have a huge collection of photos this may become challenging in the long run. But if you are going to store everything back into Google let me give you a few hints.
Use the option for unlimited space unless you are shooting SLR quality pictures. I cannot tell the difference myself when viewing on the web.
First start with an empty Google Photo Storage. You should see nothing in google. There is way to remove Picasa also so that does not confuse you when looking at your regular picture folder on your phone. At least in Android I know you can delete it. Do a search on the web. DO NOT DELETE PICASA UNTIL ALL OF YOUR PHOTOS ARE OFF OF GOOGLE. IT WILL DELETE THOSE PICTURES ALSO.
Use the Google Drive storage option. Every month or so download them and move to another location for storage if you are using an alternate place to backup. Turning this on in the beginning will save time later down the line.
Rename your files before you upload them into google. If you have lots of cameras put everything in one folder and name them something. This will help you months later when you want to see something and all you can remember is party. It takes time to get used to doing this but you will also know that you have finished with those particular ones and you don’t have to second guess anymore.
Uploading into Google. Do collections one by one. If you went to the park for BBQ and later went to a birthday party but they are not related do them in two collections. Upload one name in it. bbq_sams_place_september_2015 and upload it. Then do the same for the park. If you do not name files and make collections Google will merge them into one for the same day. This is nice if you are doing vacations for a long time. Then it’s just dates. But if you want to separate them then rename your photos.
Check your photos and see what has not been uploaded to a collection. I highly recommend having everything in a collection. Even if you name the folder random photos. Just put them someplace. The reason is again months later you see your friend and he hands you his SD card and says here are the pictures from the BBQ. Put these in google and send me yours to. Well you have single photos not in folders and when you import the SD card you have more unsorted photos. If you named your photos you will have found your collection folder and you can just rename and upload into that.
This has been a personal experience for me. I love taking pictures and have been in need of a solution for managing them all. I just got new computer. I dumped my old folders into the new one. I was using Lightroom to manage everything at one point and time. So I had all the NEF files and JPEG conversions and edits to look through. Also we have another backup drive that sits in a drawer with pictures dating back to 2007. And let’s not forget the old iPhone photos and stuff on the iPad along with old cell phone SD cards and the newest edition a Video Camera. I am still working on storage for those long videos without having to cut them. I usually do this all alone. I don’t really have tech savvy buddy that comes over and helps me out. So it’s a lot of trial and error. Hope this helps out anyone who has read this trough to the end. Shoot me a message in Google Plus and I’ll look you up if you have any questions. Sorry for the grammar errors if you see them. It’s just me typing away the way I see it.