Google is ending free unlimited Google Photos storage on June 1st, 2021 for nearly everyone

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 12, 2020
Updated • Nov 13, 2020

Google announced changes to the company's Google Photos service in regards to storage usage on November 11, 2020. The change, which will take effect on June 1, 2021, drops the current storage policy of allowing unlimited free "high quality" photos and videos on the service. Original quality photos and videos count against the storage limit already for most Google customers, but the change may have far reaching consequences for Google customers who do use the Photos service regularly.

All photos and videos uploaded to the service after June 1, 2021 will count against the customers storage quota. The only exception to the rule is that Pixel 1-5 owners will still be exempt from that new ruling. If you do own a Pixel 1-5, your "high quality" photo and video uploads will still be unlimited and won't count against the storage quota of the account.

The new ruling does not affect photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos before June 1, 2021. All of these don't count against the storage quota of the account

Google notes that the change allows more than 80% of all Google Photos users to store photos and videos on the service for "roughly three years worth of memories" with the free 15 Gigabytes that every account gets. Customers will be notified if storage space reaches a threshold. Storage space is shared across Google services.

The company notes that users can see an estimate of how long they will be able to leverage free storage.

google photos free storage estimate

From June 2021 on, customers may use a new tool to review backed up photos and videos.

This tool will help you review the memories you want to keep while also surfacing shots you might prefer to delete, like dark or blurry photos or large videos.

Google notes that the change allows the company "to keep peace with the growing demand for storage".

Additionally, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard files will also count against the storage quota.

Google may also delete content from accounts after two years of inactivity, but will notify users multiple times before any content is removed.

If you’re inactive in one or more of these services for two years (24 months), Google may delete the content in the product(s) in which you’re inactive. [...] Similarly, if you’re over your storage limit for two years, Google may delete your content across Gmail, Drive and Photos.

The last paragraph on the company's The Keyword blog hints at another  intent, as Google suggests in it that customers may expand storage at any time by subscribing to Google One.

The cheapest Google One plan is available for $1.99 per month, and it gives users 100 Gigabytes of storage.

Customers who run into storage quota issues have a handful of options to deal with the issue:

  1. Backup / delete videos and photos that take up space to free up storage and stay under the current quota and continue to upload photos or videos to Google Photos.
  2. Upgrade the plan by subscribing to Google One.
  3. Switch to a different storage / service provider for photo and video content.

Google can expect that part of the company's customer base will select the second option if they hit quota limits, as the first option is something that customers need to do every once in a while to stay under the free storage limit, and the third option is a hassle provided that a service with better conditions can be found even.

Now You: Do you use Google Photos? What is your take on the change?

Google is ending free unlimited Google Photos storage on June 1st, 2021 for nearly everyone
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Google is ending free unlimited Google Photos storage on June 1st, 2021 for nearly everyone
Google announced changes to the company's Google Photos service in regards to storage usage on November 11, 2020.
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  1. Peterc said on February 1, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    DISCLAIMER: If you have plenty of money to spare or don’t require a lot of storage, you might want to back up to SSDs for their superior speed and mechanical reliability. I have no experience using SSDs for external storage, so I can’t speak to that. With that out of the way:

    Don’t get “AN” external drive — get at least TWO. Drives can and do DIE. Duplicate your eggs and put them in more than one basket.

    Even if you back up to NAS with some form of RAID, it’s *still* a good idea to *also* back up to an ordinary, plain-vanilla external drive that doesn’t rely on NAS hardware. NASes can go tits up and may not be as fast, easy, and cheap to replace or recover data from as you think.

    If you’re lucky enough to still be running a classic tower-style computer with room for multiple HDDs (preferably mounted in hot-swap mobile drive racks), Blackblaze (a cloud-storage farm) has been publishing quarterly hard-drive reliability statistics for … well, several years, at least. There can be significant differences from brand to brand and size to size and model number to model number. CAVEAT: To my knowledge, Backblaze’s drives run 24/7/365. Their stats don’t set out to measure power-up/power-down failures.

    You can also make a DYI external drive by getting a well-rated external-drive dock or one or more well-rated external-drive enclosures, and one or more well-rated drives. Hard-drive-model information is usually *not* provided for off-the-shelf external drives, and it can vary even within the same model of external drive, depending on what kind of drives the manufacturer has on hand at the time of manufacturing. With an off-the-shelf eternal drive, you don’t necessarily know exactly what model of drive you’re getting — just that it’s #TB in size, and maybe its RPMs and claimed transfer speeds.

    If all of that seems too involved, the bottom line is that you should always create DUPLICATE BACKUPS on a MINIMUM of TWO separate drives/devices.

  2. Donald j louk said on December 18, 2020 at 6:33 pm

    I am very pissed off about this fucking bullshit you don’t need to do this change Google and fuck up people’s damn videos and photos need to leave it the way it is and stop changing every damn thing around your going to cause people to lose a lot of their photos and videos because you’re stupid in mature ridiculous retarded stupid ass don’t know what the hell you’re doing like fucking shit up leave it the fuck alone. You’re going to piss off a lot of people and I’m one of them stop fucking shit up Google leave it the fuck alone cause people to lose their damn stuff cuz you’re stupid fucking ass ideas take your shit and shove it up your ass fuck you Google I hate your stinking ass crooked fucking bastards you’re not right and I don’t appreciate what you’re doing.FUCK U GOOGLE

  3. Rex said on November 16, 2020 at 5:19 am

    Reminder that ‘the cloud’ is just a euphemism for a computer that you don’t own. Imagine depending on it at a time when physical storage is cheap as can be. Get a damn portable drive already.

  4. Sukhen said on November 15, 2020 at 3:59 am

    I had about 5.5 GB at Google photos, deleted all, removed from trash also. Now, I am seeing that I am using that extra 5.5 GB at my Google Drive. Weird!

  5. Graham said on November 14, 2020 at 12:18 pm

    Meh, I’m not bothered. There’s plenty of websites and apps out there where you can store photos for free. It’s not like Google has to be your one-stop shop for EVERYTHING.

    1. Mark said on November 14, 2020 at 6:35 pm

      Not for videos, in photos you were able to upload as many videos you wanted and download the original. There isn’t any website that allows you to upload unlimited videos AND being able to download the original. That was inevitable though, 4K video cameras in phones will become mainstream, a 4K video is 1 GB per minute!!!!!!, they would be seriously stupid if they kept it unlimited.

  6. Wayfarer said on November 13, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Never stored anything important on any Google service. Never will.

  7. Anonymous said on November 12, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    Back to using my NAS then. The whole idea was for them to spy on me and in return I get the product free. Now they want you to pay while spying on you? These bait and switch tactics is why I will never use any online subscription services ever again. In a few years that $1.99 per month will be $9.99, Office 365 at $99 will be $199 and so on.

    1. Anonymous said on November 13, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      It’s a for profit company sir, you cost them now with alll these terabytes you have uploaded more than your data. So… goodbye.

  8. Ali_Bert said on November 12, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    First, i’m going along with optimizer tools like pngquant, to reduce file sizes and space.
    Should be a good start, and i’m deleting my files routinely too, like @Sebas.

  9. Herman Cost said on November 12, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Buy an external hard drive. Mine cost about $40 for 1 terabyte (I believe 920 or so gigs are actually usable.) Then backup up all your photos. And while you are at it, backup everything else.

    Problem solved, and your system is far more secure. Of course, if you stop using Google photos entirely you could potentially lose out on all the benefits that flow from having Google know your location (and the facial features of any people in the photograph) every time you take a photograph. But you can’t have everything

    1. Dave said on January 16, 2021 at 1:36 pm

      It makes me laugh when people bitch about a FREE SERVICE and what they do with your PRIVATE images, etc.. Don’t use ,then.

    2. 360 b.c. said on November 13, 2020 at 1:00 pm

      Until your hard drive fries and lose everything. I’ve lost too many data already all these years, not going back to local hard drives, sorry.

  10. Anonymous said on November 12, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    I bet Google plans to complete change Google One and make it more like Apple One, possibly bundling Stadia, YT Music, YT Premium, and Storage.

  11. EvilGoog said on November 12, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    We said it a long time ago, it’s a ransomware made to take your stuff hostage, Micro$oft did this back when google had no cloud based services…

  12. Sebas said on November 12, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    I subscribed to Google One some time ago, since Google Photos for me is an excellent app and keeps improving. The “this day in history” is useful and mostly joyful to see…

    It is since quite a time part of my photography workflow, to combine the jpegs and videos of my phone, which are placed in self created maps, with the raw images of my dlsr into my photo and video maps on my desktop.

    For that Google Photos is excellent too. I download the content of my phone maps regularly to the corresponding maps on my desktop.

    I am stil in the process of making the maps on my phone the same as on my desktop, although the maps structure on my desktop is always the base structure. I do not not use Google Drive backup and sync since I do not want to have Google accidentally acces to my dlsr images.

    There is another big caveat: being Google I am cautious in making images of my beloved people with my phone.

    When I do, I download them very soon to my desktop and delete them in Google Photos.

    The quality and privacy of my raw files have always priority. And of course no Facebook, Instagram Twitter and other accounts, except Flickr. But Flickr is fading away.

    I did not know about these new restrictions of course. Simply another reason to stay a paid user, hopefully they do not make it more expensive.

    Well, this post is more then you asked for, but I thought it might be interesting for other people to

    read a bit more about the potential and the risks of Google Photos.

    1. Anonymous said on November 13, 2020 at 1:30 am

      ” I do not not use Google Drive backup and sync since I do not want to have Google accidentally acces to my dlsr images.”
      “When I do, I download them very soon to my desktop and delete them in Google Photos.”

      lol Google Photos is same like Google Drive. What’s the difference with deleting photo in Google Photos and deleting photo in Google Drive?

      “The quality and privacy of my raw files have always priority. ”

      Then why you’re using Google? Just use your own server to store the photos then. How are you sure Google really deleted the files and not marking them as deleted?

      1. Dave said on January 16, 2021 at 1:33 pm

        I guess that when you have some seriously dodgy images, you need the level of anonymity and privacy you seem to be after.

      2. Peterc said on February 1, 2021 at 10:20 pm

        @Dave: I don’t think you have a very good understanding of privacy. The question isn’t what might be “dodgy” to society at large; it’s what corporations, intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, and criminals might find useful to exploit.

  13. Yuliya said on November 12, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Never used it on my N10+, S10 or P2XL. Never will.

  14. Martin Watson said on November 12, 2020 at 11:18 am

    2 dollars a month for 100Gb means that over 5 years it’s cheaper to buy an external 1Tb drive.

    1. EvilGoog said on November 12, 2020 at 4:42 pm

      500 Gb HDD now cost 20 bucks

  15. Andy said on November 12, 2020 at 9:24 am

    I’m fine with the change. I’d rather pay a fair price than loose it completely.

  16. ShintoPlasm said on November 12, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Lure them with free gifts, reel in the gullible fish, then make them pay through the nose.

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