Google Photos will no longer offer unlimited free storage for your “high quality” photos starting next year. The company on Wednesday announced the changes in a blog post, saying in order to “welcome even more of your memories,” it needs to institute a cap.
Starting June 1, 2021, Google Photos will limit free storage to the complementary 15GB that comes with every Google Account. If you want more storage, you’ll have to pay monthly for a Google One subscription, which starts at $1.99 per month ($19.99 per year) for 100GB.
“We know this is a big shift and may come as a surprise, so we wanted to let you know well in advance and give you resources to make this easier,” said Shimrit Ben-Yair, Vice President of Google Photos.
The policy change only applies to new photos and videos that are uploaded after June 1, 2021, so anything uploaded before then won’t count against your storage quota. Google claims that roughly 80 percent of Photos users won’t hit their 15GB cap for about three years after the new policy goes into effect. After June 1, 2021, however, you’ll have to consider how to best backup your photos and videos. If you have already been uploading photos in original quality (which have always counted against your storage quota unless you have a Pixel phone with an unexpired original quality backup offer), these new changes won’t affect you.
If you own a Pixel 2 or later, you’ll continue to get unlimited free high quality photo backups. If you still somehow own a first-gen Pixel, you’ll be grandfathered in to get unlimited free storage at original quality. So, that’s another reason to buy Google’s devices.
Google also said it will offer a new free tool next summer that will help Photos app users easily manage their already backed up media. “This tool will help you review the memories you want to keep while also surfacing shots you might prefer to delete, like dark or blurry photos or large videos.” Once users start to approach the cap, Google Photos will send alerts and warnings. Google will also tell people how many years of storage they have left in addition to the amount, giving users a better idea of how long they can continue to upload high quality photos before they hit their cap.