Hey, Google Photos, What Gives?

Hey, Google Photos, What Gives?
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

If you’ve been enjoying the luxury of unlimited premium file storage with Google Photos, I have some unfortunate news.

Google Photos previously supported unlimited file storage with photos uploaded under its “high” setting (rather than in their original, sometimes beefier formats). The only caveat was that photos over 16MP would be compressed to that size to save space, and any high-definition video would similarly be resized to 1080p. Otherwise, anyone who wanted to upload media in its original format could do so for free for up to 15GB, at which point they had the option of upgrading for a couple of bucks a month.

Beginning in June of next year, however, Google Photos will now count media uploaded in even the more basic “high” format toward the total cap of 15BG. Google has said that no one needs to do anything immediately, and users are still free to upload content to the cloud until next summer without it counting toward the 15GB cap. Additionally, Google noted Pixel users uploading from their phones in “high” quality won’t be impacted by the change even after June 1, 2021.

Moreover, there’s a good chance that most people aren’t anywhere near meeting that 15GB threshold. Google noted that 80 per cent of its Photos users “should still be able to store roughly three more years worth of memories with your free 15GB of storage.” It added that it would notify folks by email when they’re nearing their limit, but users can also check their status to see where they’re currently at storage-wise.

Still, this change is a big bummer to Google Photos power users who’ll now be asked to pay a monthly fee for additional space. At $US2 ($3) a month for 100GB of additional storage, that amounts to at least $US24 ($33) extra per year that they weren’t previously paying. Google Photos was also once one of the cheapest ways to upload photos when compared with the cloud storage rates offered by companies like Apple, OneDrive, Flickr, Dropbox, and others.

Given we’re all paying out the ears for various other subscriptions and services, every additional fee starts to add up. Many Google Photos users will have to add a photo and video storage fee to that budget now, too.