Google Photos is set to start charging for storage following five years of unlimited free “high quality” photo backups. The changes will occur after a user surpasses 15 GB of space used on the platform. This change is set to occur on June 1st, 2021 and it also will be in tandem with similar policy changes made to Google Drive. The search giant is also adding a new policy where data from inactive accounts will be deleted if users have not logged in for a two year period.
Another key thing to note about this shift in policy is that any photos and documents that are uploaded prior to June 1st does not count against the cap of 15 GB. This gives users a bit of time to figure out if they want to keep using the Google’s service or use a different cloud storage provider. After that June 1st date, the cap will start.Read More »
There is another aspect to consider with these changes for those who own a Google Pixel phone. Owners of these mobile devices will be able to upload high quality photos (though not original photos) at no additional cost after the June 1st changeover. In this case, there is no penalty against the cap. Originally, those who bought the Pixel would also get unlimited space for original quality content. Clearly, the company is hoping extra perks like this will attract a few new buyers this holiday season though.
Google anticipates a bit of pushback
Google is well aware of the possible pushback from some to this new policy. The search giant is also asserting that it will already offer more free storage space than its competitors. Google’s 15 GB is larger than the 5 GB Apple allocates on its iCloud. Google also says that more than 80 percent of the users who use Google Photos will not even reach the 15 GB limit for more than three years.
Google also maintains it will notify its users if they are getting close to hitting the capacity of their space with an alert and warning in advance. This is part of an effort by the company to add new storage management tools for Google Photos. There will also be a tool to help make it easier for users to delete photos they may not want to have, including images or screenshots that are blurry.
Another thing Google is doing is giving users a “personalized estimate” which will give a rough estimate of how long it might take in terms of time to reach the next tier of allocated storage space. This could be useful for those who really wish to keep an eye on their usage without hitting the limit.
Integration with new Google One initiatives
These changes are likely being made for a few different reasons beyond selling more Pixel phones. One reason could simply be it is part of Google’s wish to bring more users to its Google One storage service that it also recently unveiled. Recently, the company added a free VPN for Android users who pay for Google One at a rate of $9.99 and up. Adding storage limits to Google Photos might therefore convince a few people to sign up for Google One for this reason.
In a post related to this policy change, Google maintains, “Today, more than 4 trillion photos are stored in Google Photos, and every week 28 billion new photos and videos are uploaded. Since so many of you rely on Google Photos to store your memories, it’s important that it’s not just a great product, but also continues to meet your needs over the long haul. In order to welcome even more of your memories and build Google Photos for the future, we are changing our unlimited High quality storage policy.”
Google One is giving subscribers 100 GB of space for as little as $1.99 per month with the free VPN service at $9.99 allocating up to 2 TB of storage space.
Furthermore, other types of content besides photos like Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, Drawings, and Jamboard files will count against these new storage caps. Google is doing this to better compete with industry standards and earn a few extra dollars from its superusers.
Google is deleting accounts associated with inactive users
As mentioned, Google is planning on cracking down on inactive users who have not used their account for more than two years. The company has already sent out several warning emails and notifications to those whose accounts may have data deleted from their account.
It is also important to note that anyone who is inactive for an extended period of time could also have content deleted in Gmail and Drive in addition to Google Photos. The easiest way to avoid this from happening is to periodically check any Google accounts via the web or mobile device after signing in.
Clearly, Google is taking another step to try to weed out inactive users as well as consolidate some of the storage space solutions it already offers in Google One subscriptions. Be sure to plan accordingly before next June.
Explore Games and Apps