Google Photos To End Unlimited Cloud Storage

Alphabet’s Google division has made a lot of people unhappy this week with the news that it is ending its unlimited free photo storage with Google Photos.

Google Photos was launched back in 2015 and made waves as it promised unlimited uploads and storage of people’s photos, free-of-charge.

But now Google has said it will limit customers to 15GB of storage per account that is shared by its popular apps like Gmail and Google Drive.

June 2021 deadline

The bad news was confirmed in a blog post by Shimrit Ben-Yair, VP of Google Photos on Wednesday.

“We launched Google Photos more than five years ago with the mission of being the home for your memories,” Ben-Yair wrote. “Today, more than 4 trillion photos are stored in Google Photos, and every week 28 billion new photos and videos are uploaded.”

“Since so many of you rely on Google Photos to store your memories, it’s important that it’s not just a great product, but also continues to meet your needs over the long haul,” Ben-Yair added. “In order to welcome even more of your memories and build Google Photos for the future, we are changing our unlimited High quality storage policy.”

“Starting June 1, 2021, any new photos and videos you upload will count toward the free 15 GB of storage that comes with every Google Account or the additional storage you’ve purchased as a Google One member,” Ben-Yair wrote.

“Your Google Account storage is shared across Drive, Gmail and Photos,” he said. “This change also allows us to keep pace with the growing demand for storage. And, as always, we uphold our commitment to not use information in Google Photos for advertising purposes. 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.”

Ben-Yair confirmed that existing high quality photos and videos are exempt from this change, and that any photos or videos people upload in high quality before June 1, 2021 will not count toward their 15GB of free storage.

“This means that photos and videos backed up before June 1, 2021 will still be considered free and exempt from the storage limit,” Ben-Yair wrote. “You can verify your backup quality at any time in the Photos app by going to back up & sync in Settings.”

Marketing ploy?

Some disgruntled users have taken to social media to complain that Google used its unlimited storage option as a ploy to acquire market share from rivals, with some alleging monopolistic behaviour.

From June 2021, Google users will be able acquire more cloud storage via the Google One plans.

In the UK, Google One will provide 2TB of storage for a monthly costs of £7.99.

Earlier this year Google admitted it had made a privacy gaffe that saw it inadvertently share people’s videos located on Google Photos, with complete strangers.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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