Google is pulling the plug on “free” unlimited photo backups; here’s what it means for users

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November 12, 2020 1:28 PM

Google stated that within the last five years, as many as 4 trillion images have been stored in Google Photos and a whopping 28 billion photos and videos are uploaded every week.

Google decided to do away with the unlimited storage policy.

Google Photos: Google is changing the storage policy for Google Photos, and with it, the biggest perk of the solution is going out of the window. Since its launch half a decade ago, Google Photos allowed users to back up unlimited high quality images. However, the search engine giant has now announced that the new photos and videos clicked by the users would be backed up within the 15 GB Google storage capacity offered for free with a Gmail account, or within any additionally purchased storage capacity.

In a statement, Google stated that within the last five years, as many as 4 trillion images have been stored in Google Photos and a whopping 28 billion photos and videos are uploaded every week. Thus, to sustain the solution in the long term, Google decided to do away with the unlimited storage policy. The company hopes that this would allow them to cope with the growing storage demand of the users. Google would be implementing the new policy starting June 1 next year.

Users must note that this change only impacts those users who had been backing up their images in high quality. If any user has been backing up the images and videos in original quality, their image back-up has always been counted as part of the 15 GB storage, and thus, this policy change is not for them.

What does this mean for the existing images and videos?

Google has clarified that the policy would only be applicable to any new photos and videos. However, this can lead to doubts in the users’ minds regarding the images clicked between now and the implementation of the policy. Google has also addressed that doubt.

The policy change would only impact images and videos clicked after the change comes into effect. This means that all images and videos uploaded by users in high quality before June 1, 2021, would not be counted towards the 15 GB storage capacity. So in case you have a lot of images and videos in Google Photos that you want to back up, you have time till May 31 next year to upload them for free, without affecting your Google Drive storage capacity.

Users who have been backing up their images in original quality can also make use of this nearly seven-month-long window, and upload their images and videos in high quality for free and without impacting their Google Drive storage capacity. Users can change the quality of the back-up by going to the Settings in Google Photos app. If users right now choose to change the image quality and make use of the free, unlimited backing up window granted by Google, it could help them later on once the policy comes into force.

Meanwhile, the users of Google Pixel phones would be exempted from this policy change and they would be able to store unlimited photos and videos in Google Photos even once the policy has been implemented.

Worried about Google storage capacity?

Google has asserted that after the policy implementation, about 80% of the users would still be able to back-up about three years of photos before the capacity is full. Moreover, once the user is nearing the 15 GB mark, the company would notify users through the app and also send follow-up mails.

How to manage Google storage after policy implementation?

The search engine giant said that users would be able to get a personalised estimate of how long their Google storage would last. The estimate is based on the frequency of media back-up.

Apart from that, once the policy is implemented in June next year, a new tool would be incorporated into the Photos app which would allow users to easily manage the backed up images and videos, all for free. The tool would divide the users’ images into categories like images and videos taking up more space, and images that are blurry or dark to make it easy for the users to filter out the images they wish to delete.

And in case the users decide that they wanted more space, they would be able to purchase additional storage with the help of Google One.

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