Google Photos free unlimited storage ends early next year: All your questions answered about Google’s big policy change

By: |
December 12, 2020 12:13 PM

Google has been offering users 15 GB of cloud storage with every free Gmail account, and this is used to store material across Gmail, Drive as well as Photos.

Here is everything you need to know about Google’s upcoming policy change.

Google cloud storage policy update: Google earlier announced that it would be changing its cloud storage policy starting June next year, and the change, among other things, will majorly affect Google Photos. Unlimited free storage for photos and videos would no longer be available as part of this storage policy update. However, with such vast changes happening all at once, it can be confusing. So here is everything you need to know about Google’s upcoming policy change.

The policy update: Current policy and what is changing?

Google has been offering users 15 GB of cloud storage with every free Gmail account, and this is used to store material across Gmail, Drive as well as Photos. So far, it has only been counting the data of documents like Google Docs, Google Sheets, and other apps from Google Suite against this 15 GB storage. The high quality images and videos have so far been backed up in the Google Photos app, not counting towards the Google cloud storage.

However, starting June 1, 2021, Google will be accounting the backed up high quality images and videos against the 15 GB storage itself. This means that while earlier, users could back up as many photos and videos they liked in high quality without any upper cap on the storage limit, now they would have about 15 GB available to do so, along with storing the documents from other Google Suite products.

How does this Google policy change impact you?

With this policy change, any and all new photos and videos would be stored in Google storage. Photos and videos are components that take up most of the storage space, which means that users’ storage space would run out at a much quicker pace than it did before. Once this storage space is over, users would have to purchase additional storage capacity via Google One.

On the other hand, users who had been saving videos and photos in original quality would not be impacted by this change, because their images and videos were already being stored against this storage.

Are there any relaxations from this change?

Keeping in mind the major change that Google is springing upon the users, Google will only be counting against this 15 GB storage, the new images and videos taken by users after the implementation of policy changes. This means that up till May 31, 2021, all the images and videos taken by users would be backed up on Google Photos app and not Google storage. Therefore, if you have a lot of photos today that you don’t want to pay for to store, you won’t have to, since they would not be counted towards the storage at all.

Additionally, at present, Google counts in the storage quota documents across Google Suite apps like Jamboard, Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc. However, after June 1, 2021, all documents created or last edited before June 1 would not count towards the quota, and only those documents created or edited after the policy change implementation would be accounted for.

A special relaxation has also been put in place for users of Google Pixel 1-5 smartphones, as high quality photos and videos uploaded from these devices would not be impacted, and they will continue to be exempted from the change even after the new policy comes into effect.

What do I need to do today?

While Google has announced these changes well in advance, users do not have to take any action today itself. If you want to back up most of your photos and videos in high quality before the policy change takes place, you have time till May 31 next year.

Even then, Google has estimated that more than 80% of its users would be able to store high quality photos and videos in their free Google storage for three years before they run out of their quota.

If all is well, then why is Google making this change?

Google has decided to change its storage policy after taking into consideration the vast amount of data people are uploading to cloud storage today. The company has stated that over 4.3 million GB of data across Google Drive, Google Photos and Gmail is added on a daily basis. Thus, these changes have been decided upon to keep up with the growing demand for cloud storage and to ensure that everyone can get a great storage experience.

Anything else that Google will change?

In a word, yes. Google has decided that in order to free up space, it might decide to free up space by removing content across Google Drive, Photos and Gmail if a user is over the storage limit (free 15 GB quota plus any additional storage purchased via Google One) for two years. Apart from that, if a user is inactive in one or more Google services – Docs, Forms, Sheets, Drawings, Slides and Jamboard – for two years, Google could delete content in the product(s) where the user is inactive.

But you do not need to worry. This will only be done after Google has notified the user multiple times, giving them ample time to decide what to do with their data.

In fact, remaining active on Drive, Photos and Gmail is simple – just periodically visit these apps or websites on your phone or desktop while remaining connected to the internet and signed in.

As for members of Google One, those users without any outstanding payments and with storage within the capacity would be considered to be active.

After June 1, 2021, if I fulfil my quota, how do I go back to having free space?

Google has also decided to provide storage management tools to users. The Google One app and web has a free storage management tool, which would allow users to assess the way the storage is being utilised across Photos, Drive and Gmail. Through this manager, users would be able to decide which files they don’t want, delete them and hence make room for new ones at a single solution.

Not just that. In the Google Photos app, the users would get a personalised estimate of how long their 15 GB storage quota would last. Moreover, from June 1 next year, a new free tool would also be incorporated in the Photos app to manage the backed up videos and photos, which would help users in reviewing the images and videos they would likely keep, while also bringing to the fore some images and shots, like dark and blurry images or large videos, that they would likely delete.

Apart from that, users would always have the option of purchasing additional storage via Google One if the need arises.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, Check out latest IPO News, Best Performing IPOs, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1Will WhatsApp delete your account on May 15 if you don’t accept its controversial privacy policy update? No, but it will eventually
2WhatsApp scraps May 15 deadline for accepting privacy policy terms
3Government just made COVID-19 vaccine appointment tracker sites pretty much useless by updating CoWIN guidelines