Does Google Drive Backup RAW Files?

Shreyas Patil SEO
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
Does Google Drive Backup RAW Files?


RAW files contain uncompressed, raw image data directly from the camera sensor. They allow for greater flexibility in editing options compared to JPEG or other compressed formats. However, RAW files also tend to be much larger in size. This leads to the question - does Google Drive back up RAW files?

The short answer is yes, Google Drive does backup RAW photo files. However, there are some caveats to be aware of when storing RAW files on Google Drive or any cloud storage platform. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about backing up RAW files on Google Drive.

What Are RAW Photo Files?

Before getting into Google Drive, let's quickly go over what exactly RAW files are.

  • RAW contains minimally processed data from the camera sensor
  • Allows for more extensive editing like white balance, exposure, color space etc.
  • Much larger file size than JPEG
  • Each camera brand has its own RAW format (CR2, NEF, ARW etc.)
  • Need special software like Lightroom to process RAW files

In summary, RAW file format captures the most image data for edits at the cost of larger file size. Many professional photographers shoot in RAW format for high-quality results.

Does Google Drive Allow You to Store RAW Files?

The primary question we want to address - can you upload and store RAW files on Google Drive cloud storage?

The answer is yes, Google Drive does support RAW file backup and sync. Some key points:

  • Google Drive allows you to upload RAW files just like any other file type.
  • There is no restriction on uploading RAW files from your DSLR, mirrorless cameras, smartphones etc.
  • RAW files count towards your overall Google Drive storage quota.
  • No limit on how many RAW files you can store in Google Drive.

So in summary, yes Google Drive does allow you to natively backup RAW image files. Just drag and drop the RAW files like CR2, NEF, ARW etc. from your camera to Google Drive and they will securely sync and store in the cloud.

What Are the Benefits of Backing Up RAW Files on Google Drive?

Now that we've established Google Drive does store RAW files, what are some of the benefits of using it for RAW file backup?

  • Cloud access - You can access your RAW files from any internet-connected device like your phone, tablet, or computer. Useful for working on the go.
  • Sync and share - Changes sync across devices and you can easily share RAW files by sharing the Google Drive folder link.
  • Collaboration - Useful for collaborating with others by giving shared access to a Google Drive folder containing RAW files.
  • Storage space - Depending on your Google Drive storage tier you get adequate space for RAW file backup.
  • File versioning - Google Drive stores older versions of changed files which is useful in case RAW files get accidentally edited.
  • Security - Your RAW files are securely stored encrypted on Google's servers. Redundant backups prevent data loss.

In summary, the main benefits are accessibility, collaboration, built-in file backup and sync, and secure cloud storage for your RAW files.

What Are the Downsides of Storing RAW Files on Google Drive?

However, along with the benefits there are also some downsides to consider when backing up RAW files on Google Drive:

  • Large storage - RAW files consume significantly more storage space than compressed JPEG files. This eats into your allotted Google Drive quota.
  • Full resolution access - To edit RAW files you need to download the full resolution version taking up bandwidth.
  • Limited preview - Google Drive previews do not render RAW properly and show lower resolution JPEG previews.
  • Slow upload/download - Uploading a batch of RAW files to the cloud is much slower due to large size. Downloading also takes time.
  • Software support - Google Drive doesn't natively support viewing or editing RAW files which needs separate RAW processing software.

In summary, the large storage requirements, bandwidth usage, lack of preview support and software integration issues are drawbacks to consider.

What is the Best Way to Organize RAW Files in Google Drive?

When backing up photography RAW files in Google Drive, properly organizing them makes it easier to manage. Here are some tips:

  • Create separate Google Drive folders for each camera body or lens used. This groups similar RAW files.
  • Use subfolders by date/shoot or other criteria like location, event etc to segment RAW files.
  • Add relevant keywords or descriptions to the filename itself before uploading. Makes searching easier.
  • Turn on the "Optimize Google Photos" setting under Backup in Google One app. This converts RAW to JPEG for viewable previews in Google Photos while retaining original RAW in Drive.
  • Add RAW files to the root folder of Google Drive for quick access. Use subfolders for archival organization.

Proper organization is key to easily managing a large collection of RAW files stored in Google Drive. Follow the above tips for best results.

What is the Best RAW File Backup Software for Google Drive?

While Google Drive stores RAW files, it lacks built-in support for previewing or editing camera RAW formats. This is where dedicated RAW backup software comes in handy. Some top options are:

  • Adobe Lightroom - The gold standard RAW editor integrates nicely with Google Drive for cloud storage and sync. Has useful preview and organization capabilities.
  • Capture One - Another professional RAW editor with Google Drive integration. Supports accessing and editing RAW files stored in the cloud.
  • Luminar NEO - More consumer focused RAW software but still supports Google Drive for quick backups coupled with editing capabilities.
  • Photomatix - Specialized RAW software with Google Drive integration focused on HDR photography. Useful for backing up bracketed RAW shots.

Using RAW-capable photo software provides a smoother experience for managing RAW files stored in Google Drive.

Does Google Photos Backup RAW Files? What About Google One?

This is a common question that arises when looking at Google's cloud storage services. Here is a quick rundown:

  • Google Photos - Only backs up RAW files from Pixel phones currently. Non-Pixel RAW files get ignored. BUT you can store RAW files in Google Drive and enable "Optimize Google Photos" for JPEG previews in Google Photos.
  • Google One - This is just expanded paid Google Drive storage plans. So yes, Google One allows storing RAW files like normal Google Drive. Simply choose a paid Google One plan with adequate storage for your RAW files.

In summary, only Pixel phones get actual RAW backup in Google Photos. For other cameras use Google Drive + Google One for RAW file cloud storage.

Does Google Drive Convert RAW to JPEG?

When you upload RAW files to Google Drive, it retains the original RAW file format and does NOT convert or alter it to JPEG. However, here are some scenarios where conversion happens:

  • If you enable the "Optimize Google Photos" option in the app, it will upload a JPEG version to Google Photos for preview while retaining the original RAW in Drive.
  • Some RAW editing software like Luminar NEO automatically convert to JPEG when exporting edited files out of Google Drive. But the original RAW remains intact.
  • Manual export - You can manually convert RAW files to JPEG or other formats when downloading out of Google Drive if needed.

So in summary, Google Drive itself does NOT convert RAW files to JPEG. The original RAW file format is preserved. But there are ways to optionally generate JPEG versions for convenience.

Is Storing RAW Files in the Cloud Secure?

When backing up precious photo memories as RAW files on the cloud, security is a valid concern. Here are some factors that make Google Drive secure for RAW file backup:

  • Encryption - Files stored on Google Drive servers are encrypted both in transit and at rest. This prevents unauthorized access.
  • Credential protection - Your Google account credentials are protected by various security measures like 2-factor authentication.
  • Access controls - You can selectively share Google Drive folders containing RAW files with only people you trust.
  • Version history - Accidental changes or deletions can be reverted using the built-in versions history of Google Drive.
  • Redundant backups - Google stores redundant copies across multiple data centers to prevent data loss.

While no system is 100% secure, Google Drive offers robust security measures to ensure RAW files remain private and protected.

RAW File Backup Best Practices

To summarize the key points covered in this guide, here are some RAW file backup best practices for Google Drive:

  • Use separate Google Drive folders for each camera/lens for easy organization.
  • Leverage Google Drive software integration in RAW editors like Lightroom for seamless workflow.
  • Limit sharing of RAW file folders only to people who need access.
  • Enable "Optimize Google Photos" to get JPEG previews of RAW files for easy browsing.
  • Add relevant titles, tags and descriptions to RAW files before upload.
  • Opt for larger Google One paid plans if you have sizable RAW file storage needs.
  • Setup automatic RAW file sync to Google Drive from your computer for hands-free backups.

Following RAW file backup best practices ensures your important memories stored as RAW files remain safe and accessible in Google Drive.

Quick Tip to ensure your videos never go missing

Videos are precious memories and all of us never want to ever lose them to hard disk crashes or missing drives. PicBackMan is the easiest and simplest way to keep your videos safely backed up in one or more online accounts. 

Download PicBackMan

Simply Download PicBackMan (it's free!), register your account, connect to your online store and tell PicBackMan where your videos are - PicBackMan does the rest, automatically. It bulk uploads all videos and keeps looking for new ones and uploads those too. You don't have to ever touch it.

Frequently Asked Questions about Google Drive RAW Backups

Here are some frequently asked questions about backing up RAW photo files on Google Drive:

Does Google Drive compress RAW files?

No, Google Drive retains the original RAW files intact without any lossy compression or reductions in image quality.

Can I edit RAW files stored in Google Drive?

Yes, many RAW editing software like Lightroom, Capture One, Luminar etc. allow directly editing RAW files stored in Google Drive without having to download them locally.

Is there a size limit for RAW files on Google Drive?

No, there is technically no size restriction on individual RAW files uploaded to Google Drive.

How much RAW storage does the free Google Drive offer?

The free 15GB Google Drive space gets used up quickly by larger RAW files. Recommended to upgrade to a paid Google One plan for ample RAW file storage.

Does Google Drive automatically sync RAW files?

On desktop, Google Drive needs to be configured to a specific folder to auto-sync photographs folder containing RAW files. On mobile, the Google Photos app can auto-backup RAW files.

Is it better to convert RAW to JPEG before Google Drive?

No, recommended to retain the original RAW files for maximum editing flexibility. Optionally generate JPEG previews via "Optimize Google Photos" setting for easier browsing.


In closing, Google Drive provides a convenient way to backup RAW camera files thanks to its cloud accessibility, collaboration features, built-in sync, and security measures. While there are some drawbacks like slower performance with large files and limited previews, overall Google Drive is a solid choice for storing RAW files. Following the best practices outlined in this guide will help you effectively organize, access and manage your RAW photo collection in Google Drive.

World's #1 Photo/Video Uploader

Backup & Transfer your Photos in Minutes

Automate backup & migration of your photos & videos with support for all top services.

(283 reviews)

Trusted by users in 125+ countries.

95,000+ PicBackMan Users

95,000+ Users Trust PicBackMan To Backup Precious Memories

money back guarantee
Kip Roof testimonial Kip Roofgoogle photos flickr
PicBackMan does exactly what it's supposed to. It's quick and efficient. It runs unobtrusively in the background and has done an excellent job of uploading more than 300GB of photos to 2 different services. After having lost a lot of personal memories to a hard drive crash, it's nice to know that my photos are safe in 2 different places.
Julia Alyea Farella testimonialJulia Alyea Farella smugmug
LOVE this program! Works better than ANY other program out there that I have found to upload thousands of pictures WITH SUB-FOLDERS to SmugMug! Thank you so much for what you do! :) #happycustomer
Pausing Motion testimonialPausingMotionsmugmug
I pointed PicBackMan at a directory structure, and next time I looked - all the photos had uploaded! Pretty cool. I use SmugMug and while I really like it, the process of creating directories in is pretty laborious when you need to make 80+ at a time. This was a breeze. Thank you!
Gavin Whitham testimonialGavin Whithamflickr
PicBackMan was really easy to setup and has been running for 3 days now backing up all my locally saved photos to Flickr. My photos are really valuable to me so it's great to be able to have them easily backed up to a secure location.
 Jim Griffin testimonialJim Griffinsmugmug
It's AWESOME!! I have tens of thousands of pictures...and they are now successfully uploaded to SmugMug, where they are safely backed up, and I can edit and organize them. If you are hesitating about using PicBackMan, hesitate no longer...try it...and you'll be glad you did!!
close icon
World's #1 Photo/Video Uploader

World's #1 Free Photo/Video Uploader

PicBackMan has everything you've ever wanted to backup your photos or migrate/transfer from one account to another. No feature left behind!

(283 reviews)
Trusted by users in 125+ countries.
  • Maintain Folder StructureMaintain Folder StructureUpload to your online accounts & keep your folder structure as you have it.
  • Sub-folder SupportFolders & their sub-folders are automatically picked up.
  • Smart De-dupeDe-dupes photos before uploading so you don’t have duplicate copies.
  • AutomaticPicBackMan monitors & automatically uploads from connected folders.
  • PrivacyPrivacyAll uploaded photos & videos are always marked as private by default.
  • RAW FilesComes with support for RAW files for uploads as well as transfers.

“Your pictures are scattered. PicBackMan helps you bring order to your digital memories.”

the wall street journal
close icon
One Uploader for All Services

One Uploader for All Services

PicBackMan is the only tool you will need to backup to one or more of the top online photo and video services.

(283 reviews)
Trusted by users in 125+ countries.
Google Photos

Google Photos







Google Drive

Google Drive