One of the biggest features that Google includes in Google Photos is without a doubt the unlimited storage for any photos you take under the “High quality” setting. It might be the draw to the service for those who takes tons of photos from device to device and don’t want to pay to be able to store those. Well, folks, I have bad news – Google is ending unlimited free Google Photos storage.
In a policy posted today, Google says that on June 1, 2021, the new photos you take and upload under both “High quality” and “Express quality” will count towards your Google Account storage. For most people, that means your new photo uploads will count against the free 15GB that Google gives you to use across all services, including Gmail.
Since this is news that no one will enjoy, you probably want to know what happens next June if you hit your account storage limit. As you might expect, you won’t be able to upload any longer. And we aren’t just talking about Photos here – you also won’t be able to upload new files in Drive, plus sending and receiving Gmail could be impacted.
So what’s the solution? Should you hit your limit in June of next year or after, you would need to delete a bunch of old data or sign-up for a Google One storage account that adds more. If you don’t, Google may delete your data to get you back under your 15GB of free space. They’ll give you ample warning on if that could happen (at least 3 months before), let you download the data, or subscribe to a new plan.
Google also plans to update the Google Photos app with a new management tool that will estimate how much storage you have and for how many years it should remain in the “free” area before you may need to upgrade to a paid plan. It’ll offer up suggestions on memories or photos you could probably delete.
What about Pixel phones that were supposed to have all sorts of free storage for Photos? Google says you won’t be impacted, even after June 1, 2021:
If you have a Pixel 1-5, photos uploaded from that device won’t be impacted. Photos and videos uploaded in High quality from that device will continue to be exempt from this change, even after June 1, 2021.
How does this impact Google Workspace users? The same as everyone else. Depending on your company setup, you may have more than 15GB storage, but starting June 1, 2021, your new photo and file uploads will count toward your limit.
To recap, Google Photos unlimited free storage is going away on June 1, 2021. All of your existing “High quality” or “Express quality” photos and videos won’t count toward your limit, but uploads after June 1 of next year will. All of the “Original quality” stuff you have already counts and will continue to. If you are close to your limit, you may have to free up space or grab a fresh Google One plan.