One of the main reasons that Google Photos became so ubiquitous was its unbeatable offer of unlimited free storage for high quality photos and videos. Unfortunately, that free ride comes to an end soon, as Google announced last fall that any new photos and videos uploaded to the service starting June 1st, 2021 will count towards the free 15GB of storage that comes with every Google account, spanning Gmail, Drive, and now Photos.
The good news is that the new rule doesn’t go into effect until the beginning of next month, so if you’re reading this in May, you still have time to upload as many photos and videos to Google Photos as you can manage before the cutoff. If you’ve got a collection of thousands of important memories you couldn’t stand to lose, now is the time to back them all up on Google Photos while it is still free to do so, because they won’t count against your storage.
There are a few important caveats worth mentioning so that you don’t miss out on this opportunity. First, the unlimited free storage for photos and videos has only ever applied to “High quality” content. If you want to check and make sure that your content is being stored in the right format, head to the Google Photos Settings page and tap the toggle next to “High quality” under “Upload size for photos & videos.” Any “Original” photos and videos already count toward the storage limits, so if you need more room, choose “High quality.”
You should also see a notification near the top of that page warning you about an important update to your storage. If you click on “Learn more,” you will be taken to this page, and if you’re logged into your Google account, the page will tell you how much storage you have left for photos and videos after June 1st.
Google says once the change takes effect, “over 80 percent of you should still be able to store roughly three more years worth of memories with your free 15 GB of storage.” Google will alert you if you begin to approach your storage limit. When that happens, your only option will be to pay for a Google One plan to expand your storage. Google offers $1.99 per month for 100GB, $2.99 per month for 200GB, and $9.99 per month for 2TB.
If you don’t want to pay for more storage, Google is giving everyone access to a new free tool in the Photos app starting in June that will give users the ability to more easily manage all of the photos and videos they’ve backed up. This tool will surface dark, blurry, and large content so that you can weed out shots that might be better off deleted while saving all of those that you want to keep backed up somewhere safe forever.