Google Photos Will No Longer Offer Free and Unlimited Storage

Posted on November 11, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Google Photos with 24 Comments

Starting in mid-2021, Google Photos will no longer offer free and unlimited storage. The good news? Existing uploads are exempt.

“To continue providing everyone with a great storage experience and to keep pace with the growing demand, we’re announcing important upcoming storage changes to your Google Account,” Google vice president Jose Pastor announced. “These storage policy changes won’t take effect until June 1, 2021. However, we wanted to let you know well in advance and give you the resources to navigate these changes.”

For Google Photos, the news is bleak: Where the service now offers free and unlimited storage of “high quality” photos and 1 GB of “original quality” photos, it will soon move to a model in which all photos will be held against a 15 GB ceiling that is available across Gmail, Drive, and Photos.

“Beginning June 1, any new photo or video uploaded in High quality in Google Photos will count toward your free 15 GB storage quota or any additional storage you’ve purchased as a Google One member,” Pastor continues. “To make this transition easier, we’ll exempt all High quality photos and videos you back up before June 1. This includes all of the High quality photos and videos you currently store with Google Photos … We estimate that 80 percent of you should have at least three years before you reach 15 GB.”

Also starting June 1, any new Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, or Jamboard) files will also begin counting toward your free 15 GB of allotted storage (or any additional storage provided through Google One), Google says. As with Google Photos, previously uploaded files will not count toward storage, unless they’re modified on or after June 1.

Finally, Google is also instituting a new policy for accounts that are inactive or exceed their storage quota. Accounts that are inactive in one or more of the relevant services (Gmail, Drive, and Photos), or are over their storage limit, for two years may see their content deleted.

“We will notify you multiple times before we attempt to remove any content so you have ample opportunities to take action,” Pastor says, adding that you can simply visit your Gmail, Drive, or Photos service on the web or mobile periodically to avoid the account being marked as inactive.

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