Google Photos is introducing some dramatic changes to all users from tomorrow. Since the launch of the photo-sharing and storage solution back in May 2015, one of its biggest selling points has been free and unlimited back-up for your photographs. These images are stored in the so-called “High Quality Storage” format, which uses Google’s clever compression algorithm to crunch down anything larger than a 16-megapixel snap.
With an offer like that on the table, it’s not hard to understand why Google Photos is one of the most popular storage solutions on the planet. One of the last time we got any official figures from Google, the service had one billion users – uploading 28 billion new photos and videos every week.
It seems that isn’t sustainable for Google anymore. As a result, from June 1, 2021, Google Photos is removing the free storage option. From that date, every photograph that you back-up to the Google Photo servers will count towards your storage allowance. Every user will get a 15GB allowance straight out of the gate, but once that’s gone, you’ll need to pony up for more.
Interestingly, you can still use the space-saving “High Quality Storage” format – allowing you to really make the most of the free 15GB allowance compared to uploading uncompressed photos and videos (an option available to all Google Photo users in the Settings menu). If you don’t want to pay Google for more storage when you’ve run out, it’s possible to use Photos’ storage management tool to review and delete photos and videos.
Deleting enough images or videos to get below the 15GB threshold will allow you to continue uploading again without paying.
Thankfully, Google Photos will allow you to upload as many photos and videos as you want until the changes kick in June 1, 2021. So, if you’ve been enjoying the sunny bank holiday weekend and taken a bucketload of photos with friends and family, but haven’t yet taken the time to upload them to the cloud – make sure you take the time to start the upload today. If you wait until tomorrow, it could cost you.
Of course, if you’ve been uploading images in their uncompressed original quality for some time, you might’ve been paying for a while now. For you, nothing really changes. However, if you moved away from other options – Apple Photos, Dropbox – to Google Photos because of the free unlimited storage option, this could be a real blow.
The good news is that Google doesn’t charge too much for its extra storage. Upgrading from the free 15GB allowance to 100GB will cost you £1.59 a month. Better yet, Google offers a 16 percent saving if you pay for a year upfront (£15.99 a year). For those who take a lot of photos and videos, there’s also a 200GB (£2.49 a month) and 2TB option (£7.99 a month). It’s also worth mentioning that Google throws in a few extra goodies for subscribers, including access to Google experts, exclusive features like advanced photo editing tools, and shared family plans.
For comparison, Apple offers its users 5GB of free cloud storage for Apple Photos, before charging £0.79 a month for 50GB, £2.49 a month for 200GB, and £6.99 for 2TB. Those who want to use Dropbox to store their images can also get 2TB of cloud storage for £7.99 a month – if you pay annually, or £9.99 a month if you want to pay on a month-by-month basis.
The change to Google Photos also comes with a warning. Until now, since storage was freely available to all, Google Photos users have been able to keep images in their account indefinitely without any issue. But going forwards, Google might start deleting your snaps.
If you’ve run out of storage for your Google Photos account, you’ll no longer be able to upload any new photos or videos. You will be able to continue downloading pictures that have already been stored in your Google Photos apps. However, if you remain over your storage quota for two years or longer, all of your photos and videos will be deleted by Google.