Google Photos unlimited storage is ending: Back up your photos now

New restrictions spell the end of unlimited photo uploads as Google clamps down on storage restrictions

Google Photos
(Image credit: Google)

For years now, Google has granted users unlimited cloud storage to upload their photos. This was possible through a workaround that only deducted space for photos uploaded in their original quality. All that is about to change dramatically as Google prepares to slam down new restrictions on its various cloud storage apps. 

Google Accounts were initially tied to 15GB of free cloud storage across Google Photos and Drive, but the aforementioned loophole allowed users to siphon more mileage before coughing up for more gigabytes. As user dependency on the cloud increases, compromises on the size and scope of uploads is an unfortunate reality. 

As per the new rules (opens in new tab), any content uploaded to Google Photos in ‘high-quality’ (16MP or higher) will now contribute to the allocated free storage for an account after June 1, 2021. More alarming is the news that users have been notified their content could be permanently deleted if they exceed the allotted space for over two years.

This is particularly concerning for those who depend on Google services to backup their smartphone pictures as their camera specifications balloon in megapixel size. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has a 108MP primary camera whilst the Pixel 5’s ultra-wide camera is 16MP, breaking the barrier for free photo uploads. 

These restrictions don’t just extend to photos either. Google has confirmed that any new files created on its office software will also count towards the 15GB limit. In case you forgot, that category of software includes an assortment of popular services: Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Jamboard. Existing files will not suddenly take up space after June 1st but anyone considering tackling a daunting spreadsheet in the future might want to reconsider. 

On the bright side, the two-year window to backup your files and content before they are automatically removed will only be enforced after June 1. Therefore, there’s no real risk of losing any files before June 2023. 

Alternatively, you can upgrade your Google One (opens in new tab) plan to access more cloud storage. Accessing an extra 100GB costs $1.99 / £1.59 / AU$1.99 a month, 200GB is $2.99 / £2.49 / $AU2.99, and 2TB sets you back $9.99 / £7.99 ? AU$9.99 monthly. 

Before the new rules are set in stone, you can always check how much storage you have already used up on this page (opens in new tab). Otherwise, make sure to keep an eye on your inbox for any updates from Google on how storage restrictions may change in the future.  

Source: TechRadar (opens in new tab)