How Often Does Google Earth Update?

Google Earth allows you to explore the world right at the tip of your fingers, at your own comfort.

Google Earth is the three-dimensional planetary browser that shows our entire planet (well, minus a few top-secret military bases) in satellite imagery and aerial photos. It should not be confused with Google Maps, as these are two separate software.

Google Earth allows you to discover hundreds of 3D places without leaving the comfort of your seat. It’s like having a virtual tour of places you want to visit; whether you’re feeling nostalgic about seeing your hometown or simply wanted to explore where you want to travel next, Google Earth can get the whole world in your hands.

How Does Google Earth Collect Images?

The images you see on Google Earth are collected over time from providers and platforms. You can see images in street view, aerial and 3D. However, these images are not in real time, so it is not possible to see live changes.

Some images show a single acquisition date, while some show a range of dates taken over days or months. If you are looking to find more information about when the image was collected, it is best to contact the original image providers as Google is not able to provide more information about the images aside from what it currently shows.

How Often Does Google Earth Update?

According to the Google Earth blog, Google Earth updates about once a month. However, this doesn’t mean that every image is updated once a month – far from it. In fact, the average map data is between one and three years old.

What Does Google Earth Update?

Ah, there’s the rub. If you’re anxiously awaiting an update to your home town, don’t assume it will come around in Google’s next set of changes. Google does not update the entire map in each go.  Instead, they update pieces of the map. When we say pieces, we mean small pieces. A single Google Earth update might contain a handful of cities or states. When Google releases an update, they also release a KLM file that outlines the updated regions in red, thereby letting everyone know what’s been changed and what’s still waiting on a refresher.

Why Doesn’t Google Earth Update Continuously?

As we’ve already mentioned, Google Earth uses a combination of satellite images and aerial photographs. Both of these take time and aerial photographs in particular are expensive to acquire. Google would have to have hired pilots traversing the globe all of the time to keep up with potential changes.

Instead, Google opts for a compromise. They strive to keep each area of the globe within 3 years of age. Although, they are likely to target high-density population areas more frequently. So if you’re town had an update last year and you’re still waiting to see the new stadium that was built in the past 6 months, you might be waiting a while.

Will Google Earth Update Imagery Upon Request?

Unless you’re a governing body of some kind that has compiled its own package of aerial images to share with Google, they are unlikely to heed a request for an update. Google has a system in place for keeping the images as current as reasonably possible. If they entertained every request, they’re schedule would crumble. That being said, if you’re disappointed with your Google Earth view and are hungry for more up to date data, it’s possible there is more up to date data available and you’re just not looking at it.

This may sound strange, but check “historical” imagery to catch some more recent shots. Google doesn’t always put the most up to date imagery in the main part of the app. Sometimes they put slightly older images in the main part and put the up to date images in historical imagery. Sometimes slightly older images are considered more accurate as in the case of post-Katrina New Orleans. Google had updated the city right after the disaster. They later restored images of the city from before the disaster. These images were considered more “accurate” as the city had since started rebuilding and the devastation shown just after the floods was actually a less useful depiction than prior images. Of course, Google changed the images back after some backlash, but their principle stands. Always check historical images for something more up to date.

14 thoughts on “How Often Does Google Earth Update?”

Avatar Beth says:
Did any of you actually read the article? It is unknown as to when your spot will be updated. Clearly, it may be 11 years or so…hard tellin, folks.
Avatar Peter Spence says:
When is New zealand.to be updated . Much of it is 2013 or earlier.
Avatar mslissa says:
The images in Curtis Bay Md has not been updated since 2011. Any idea if and or when it might actually be updated?
Avatar Melva Griebel says:
Our area in Minnesota hasn’t been updated in 5 years. Is it that hard?
Avatar Troy says:
My area has not been updated for 11 years. South Central Utah.
Not sure what the point of Google earth is if it is 11 years and still no update.
Avatar Cory Hunt says:
I live in Magazine Arkansas buying property for five years update to the place but no update on Google Earth do you know when you will update Google Earth and Google maps both are wrong
Avatar Sharon says:
The last update of our property was in 2012. I did see a vehicle a few months ago in our area. When can we expect another update?
Avatar Sarah says:
We live in an area that was burned in the June 2011 Monument Fire and then we were impacted by the monsoon floods the following month. Many changes have happened to the landscape in the last eight years. An update to the imagery would help us in fire and flood mitigation efforts.
Avatar Mike says:
Those vehicles are for Google Streetview, not Google Earth, which uses satellites instead.
Avatar Chris West says:
Google has more money than they know what to do with. They could easily have satellites launched that would constantly update all imagery in a matter of days. Why they haven’t or won’t do this you ask? Well It’s because it would actually give us knowledge. Not just any information /knowledge but information that Google believes we the public should never ever know about. With the setup they use now, (refreshing imagery ever three years) they have plenty of time to color over the information they feel we’re unfit for.
Avatar Nick says:
We cleared 10 acres for our campground and google maps shows 2019 when you zoom in, yet it’s still the 3+ year old image before we began our work when it was just all trees. I also saw a google street view car drive through last year, so I can’t wait to see the update.
Avatar Mike Matheson says:
My old residence in Carmel CA was sold in 2017 and has had a major upgrade
but your image last updated in 2011 when will the image be upgraded to 2019.
Avatar David says:
People in Carmel are all a$$holes. You don’t get updates until 2130.
Avatar Buck says:
Update Heath, Pataskala, Granville OHIO people.. GO BUCKEYES!!!
Avatar Cliford Hanney says:
My hunting cabin in Karnes County TX has been on the property since 2013 but does not show up on any google earth or map view.
Avatar Russ says:
9/14/2015 was last update of Advent, WV USA. So I take it we could be ready for an update some day soon?

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