Google Photos Will Start Charging Users for Storage After June 2021

By Bill Toulas / November 12, 2020

Google has announced its plan to end the “free” and unlimited usage of the “Google Photos” on June 1, 2021. Those who want to continue using the photo-sharing and storage service beyond 15GB will have to buy a Google One plan from then on. That would be $1.99 per month for 100GB, $2.99 per month for 200GB, and up to $149.99 per month for the top-tier 30TB.

After June 1, 2020, whatever you upload to Photos will count against a total of 15GB of storage that will be allocated to each Google Account for free. That includes all services under the same account, so Google Drive and Gmail are included too. If you want to determine where you stand right now and how long you have before you fill the free space up, check out this page.

The free storage space may be shared among Drive, Gmail, and Photos, but it is the last one that’s the most critical for users and also the easiest to fill up. High-resolution photographs and videos can take up much space, pushing a large number of people to pay for a Google One plan. The tech giant clarified that until June 2021, none of your uploads would count towards the free 15 GB, so feel free to go crazy in the next six months.

One category of users who won’t be touched by this change is Pixel device owners. From the original Pixel to the most recent 5, all of these users will continue to enjoy unlimited storage in Google Photos for free. The only catch is that they will be allowed to upload the stuff in “High” and not in “Original” quality. What this means is compression to 16MP for photos and 1080p for videos.

As for why this happens, Google says they are just trying to align with common practices across the industry, which sounds like wanting to engage in “fair play” against other cloud storage service providers. They are obviously looking to save money, too, as even for their massive infrastructure, storing humongous amounts of data comes at a cost. As the company wrote on Twitter, people upload 28 billion photos and videos to Google Photos every week, so we’re talking about sizes that aren’t easily manageable even by tech giants.

Finally, accounts that did not have any activity in the last 24 months (counting backward from June 2021) will have their content deleted across all Google services. The holders of these accounts will receive multiple notifications in the meantime, so they will have ample opportunity to take action if they want.

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