Google Photos Unlimited Free Storage Ends June 1st, So What's The Alternative?

Google Photos
At least Google gave everyone a six-month heads up that it was yanking unlimited 'High' quality photo and video storage for non-Pixel owners, and will instead implement a 15GB cap. Still, it is disappointing. The deadline is fast approaching, too, with Google set to make the new cap effective June 1, 2021. When that day comes, what are you planning to do?

You have options. No matter what you decide, the smartest play is to be sure you upload all your photos and videos ahead of time, because those will not count against your cap.

"Your existing High quality photos and videos are exempt from this change: Any photos or videos backed up in High quality before June 1, 2021, will not count toward your Google Account storage. These photos and videos will remain free and exempt from the storage limit," Google reiterates in a blog post.

Once you've done that, you can use Google's tool to get an estimate of how long it will take to saturate your 15GB of free storage. On my account, for example, the tool estimates two years, based on how frequently (or infrequently) I back up photos and videos.

"We estimate that more than 80 percent of you should still be able to store roughly three more years of memories in High quality with your free 15GB of storage. As your storage nears 15GB, we will notify you in the app and follow up by email," Google says.

To make things more manageable, Google is rolling out another tool in Photos that can help you easily and quickly delete photos and videos that might be of little visual value, like blurry photos and screenshots, as well as large videos that are hogging your data allotment. You can find this by going to Settings > Back up & sync, and clicking on the Manage storage button. This just started rolling out today, so keep checking back if you don't see the option.

What To Do When Unlimited Storage Ends For Google Photos

Google Photos Pricing

Once June 1 rolls around and the new data cap goes into effect, we suspect a lot of people will opt for paid storage. It is the easiest way to keep the photo and video backup party going, though obviously it comes at a financial cost. The least expensive tier is 100GB for $1.99 per month, or $19.99 per year if paying for an annual sub (you save 16%). That gets you almost seven times more storage.

If that is not enough, there is a 200GB tier for $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year, and a 2TB plan for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

What if you don't want to pay for storage? Well, you'll have to look elsewhere to supplement your cloud storage. If you own an iPhone, you get 5GB of iCloud storage for free. And if you have an Amazon Prime account, you get free unlimited storage for high resolution photos, and 5GB for additional storage (like videos and documents). That's on top of the 5GB of storage that all Amazon customers have.

Other services like OneDrive and Dropbox offer a certain amount of free storage (5GB and 2GB, respectively), if you just need a little bit extra or want to juggle different containers. Unfortunately, however, free bulk storage is not exactly plentiful these days. Google Photos is still one of the best options, thanks to its cross-platform support, ease of use, and relatively affordable tiers.

One thing to note—if you own a Pixel 1-5 handset, you are not impacted by this change. You still get unlimited free storage, even after June 1, 2021. It's been rumored future Pixel phones might be exempt as well, but as of right now, Google has not announced anything of the sort.