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Google Photos is ending free unlimited storage: What do I need to do?

I have always been a fan of Google. They have given me many free services that I use daily: Search, Maps and Photos, to name but a few.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Google support these services –and makes billions – through collecting data and advertising. It’s OK, though; I don’t mind sharing a bit of my not too interesting life with them in exchange for these handy apps and products.

One of the most generous of these services is Google Photos. Take a photo on your Android phone or tablet, and it stores the images “in the cloud” for free. If you lose your phone or have it nicked, all those beautiful memories are safe: get a new phone, sign in, and they re-appear as if by magic. You can also view, download, edit and share them on many other devices too.

Unlimited Storage

All these photos take up space in Google’s cloud, but they have always been generous: you get 15GB of storage for just signing up to a free Google account. However, it is worth noting this allowance covers everything you may put into Google’s World, be it documents, emails, photos, etc.

Saying that, if you press the right button, you can store unlimited images in Google Photos. These images become compressed and capped at 16 megapixels but, unless you are into your photography, that is not an issue. If you’re an average snapper like me, you’ll never even notice.

Upsetting the Apple cart

This more substantial offer from Google has always been a selling point over Apple’s more limited 5GB of free cloud storage; if you fill up your allowance on any phone, it is nearly always because of photos or videos.

And that is why this article is the bearer of bad news – from June 1st, 2021, Google Photos will no longer have a free unlimited storage option. All images you store from then on will count towards your 15GB and, if you go over, you will have to either move or delete what you have stored – or pay a monthly subscription for more cloud storage.

Not all bad

While it’s frustrating, it is unlikely to affect many of us: 15GB takes some work to fill. And if you also don’t use the storage for anything else – emails, documents, etc. – then it is unlikely to be a problem.

Also, be aware that only new photos taken after June 1st will count; it does not affect your current images stored using Google Photos unlimited storage. Plus, the subscriptions are not exactly expensive – currently £1.59 a month for 100GB.

But take note

Do keep it in mind, though. If you are a happy snapper, you may have to get your wallet out sometime in the future.

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About the author

Mark Parvin

I have worked with and wrote about computers, video games and consumer tech for more years than I care to admit.
I currently run my own IT support business and write about the wonders of tech whenever I can.

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