After five years of offering unlimited free photo backups at “high quality,” Google Photos will start charging for storage once more than 15 gigs on the account have been used. The change will happen on June 1st, 2021, and it comes with other Google Drive policy changes like counting Google Workspace documents and spreadsheets against the same cap. Google is also introducing a new policy of deleting data from inactive accounts that haven’t been logged in for at least two years.
All photos and documents uploaded before June 1st will not count against that 15GB cap, so you have plenty of time to decide whether to continue using Google Photos or switching to another cloud storage provider for your photos. Only photos uploaded after June 1st will begin counting against the cap.
Google already counts “original quality” photo uploads against a storage cap in Google Photos. However, taking away unlimited backup for “high quality” photos and video (which are automatically compressed for more efficient storage) also takes away one of the service’s most significant selling points. But then, it was the photo service where you didn’t have to worry about how much storage you had.
As a side note, Pixel owners will still be able to upload high-quality (not original) photos for free after June 1st without those images counting against their cap. Admittedly, it’s not as good as the Pixel’s original deal of getting unlimited original quality, but it’s a tiny bonus for the few people who buy Google’s devices.
Google points out that it offers more free storage than others — you get 15GB instead of the paltry 5GB that Apple’s iCloud gives you — and it also claims that 80 percent of Google Photos users won’t hit that 15GB cap for at least three years.
The company will send alerts and warnings when you begin to approach that cap. Google is also putting new storage management tools into Google Photos, including a tool that makes it easier to find and delete photos you might not want anyway, like blurry images or screenshots.
Google will also show a more practical “personalized estimate” of how much longer a storage tier will last in terms of time instead of gigabytes. It estimates each user’s average uploads overtime to guess how much longer they’ll be able to use their current tier.
Google One pricing is not changing. It starts at $1.99/month for 100GB and has tiers going through 200GB ($2.99 / month), 2TB ($9.99 / month), and all the way up to 30TB ($149.99 / month).