In late 2020, changes to the Google Photos Terms of Service were announced, while Google Photos ended the unlimited photo and video storage option for the vast majority of people on June 1, 2021. Read on to learn how the new rules of this service will affect users and what alternatives there are to Google’s photo management service.
What are the effects of the change?
In November 2020, changes to Google’s photo and video storage rules were released. The change, scheduled for June 1st, now counts all photos and videos uploaded to Google Photos, regardless of quality, as part of the available data in the user’s account.
For the first six years of service, videos and photos sent from a PC or smartphone using the High Quality option did not use all of the account’s storage space. However, these were saved in reduced quality with limited resolution:
- Photos: 16 megapixels (approx. 4618 x 3464, in 4: 3 aspect ratio).
- Videos: 2 megapixels (Full HD or 1920 x 1080 pixels with an aspect ratio of 16: 9).
Another option was to keep the media at its original quality and resolution. It does this by making sure that Google does not compress the photos and videos. This way, the files you upload will count towards the account’s storage limit, which is currently 15 GB by default.
As of the date of the change, media that were saved with the “High Quality” option will now also use their share of the free storage space that is shared with Google Drive and Gmail.
The selection of the recording mode used in Google Photos can be made in the settings both in the mobile app and in the web version of the service. The latter is possible under the following link: https://photos.google.com/settings.
What changes are pixel owners facing?
The changes for those who own a Google Pixel smartphone vary depending on the device model:
- Pixel (2016): Retains unlimited storage space for original quality media.
- Pixel 2: Unlimited storage for high quality photos and videos.
- Unlimited storage for original quality media uploaded by January 16, 2021.
- Pixel 3: Unlimited original quality storage until January 21, 2022.
- As of this date, unlimited storage space is only available for the High Quality option.
- Pixels 3a to 5: Unlimited space for the “High Quality” option only.
Due to the language used by Google, the above rules only apply to submissions that come from the models cited. This means that even if you have a Pixel 3 linked to your profile, pictures sent from your PC or other smartphones will count towards the storage limit.
What are the options for adding more Google Photos storage?
In the past, Google has offered additional file storage space as a reward for simple tasks like profile security checks. This has enabled many of their users to amass total storage greater than the standard 15GB. Professional accounts, on the other hand, typically offer 30 GB of storage or more, depending on the company’s subscription.
Before signing up for one of the additional storage plans, you can clean up your files on the various services that will ultimately count towards your total data quota:
- In Google Photos itself, you can search for photos and videos that are taking up the available space, divided into different categories (large, blurry, saved by apps, and screenshots).
- The list is empty for those who only have images that do not count towards the storage limit.
- In Google One’s storage manager, you have an overview of files and e-mails in the recycle bin or those that have been marked as spam, as well as a list of files that are taking up too much storage space, with the option of deleting them.
Plans to expand your storage space also apply to Google Photos, Drive, and Gmail, where they are included with the Google One subscription. Home users can choose from a trio of memory size options:
- 100GB: $ 1.99 / month or $ 19.99 / year
- 200GB: $ 2.99 / month or $ 29.99 / year
- 2 TB: $ 9.99 / month or $ 99.99 / year
- 10 TB: $ 99.99 / month
- 20 TB: $ 199.99 / month
- 30 TB: $ 299.99 / month.
This space can be shared with up to 5 people in the same family who also receive live support and other benefits that vary by region.
What are the main Google Photos alternatives?
Subscribers to Microsoft 365 or Amazon Prime plans have online storage services called OneDrive and Amazon Photos, respectively. The former offers storage from 1 TB for personal subscriptions, while the e-commerce giant offers unlimited storage for photos (in original quality) and 5 GB for video storage.
These services don’t offer the same features in terms of album organization, sharing, or facial recognition – which can be both positive and negative depending on demand. The same goes for online storage services, as in the case of Dropbox, iDrive, Box and other similar services.
One service that is well received by our French colleagues is Degoo, with its Swedish roots, which offers 100 GB of storage space for photos, apps for Android, iOS and the web, as well as some options to expand the available storage.
A more arduous solution would be to go back to the days when local storage prevailed. In this case, however, it’s good to have a local and a remote copy for security reasons – some network storage (NAS) even offer tools to generate albums through facial recognition, but ransomware attacks on remote access tools from manufacturers like Qnap and Synology have not instilled as much trust in the online services of such devices in recent years.
Regardless of the solution used, different online services are available at different price levels. All of them have different degrees of practicality and functions. After all, Google offers the option to download your files and even migrate them to other photo storage systems instead of making life difficult for its users.