From today, June 1 2021, Google Photos no longer offers free and unlimited storage for your images, taking away one of its main advantages over rivals.
Previously, Google offered the unlimited storage of photos in a state it described as "high quality". In other words, these images were compressed a little so they took up less space on Google's servers and helped make the free offer financial viable.
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Before today, users could upload as many photos in high quality as they liked, and it would not take up any of the free 15GB of storage included with a Google account. As of June 1, Google accounts still come with 15GB of free storage, but any images uploaded to Google Photos will start to take up that storage, no matter what quality they are saved as. Generally speaking, high-quality photos are perfectly good enough to view on a screen, but when printed won't be as sharp as photos saved at their original quality.
This 15GB of storage is applied to all Google services, so if you have a huge Gmail inbox full of emails with large attachments, that will already have eaten into your storage allowance.
Google Photos no longer stores unlimited images for freeGoogle
To be clar, this only applies to brand new Google accounts, or to photos added to a pre-existing Google account from June 1, 2021 onwards. If you have 100GB of high-quality images saved on Google Photos then don't panic, those will be stored for free and only newly-added photos will eat into your 15GB allowance.
Once you have used up that 15GB, you'll need to clear out some space or pay Google for more via a Google One subscription. If you want to start paying, there are several tiers to pick from. The first has 100GB of storage and is priced at $1.99 a month, and the second provides 200GB for $2.99 a month. Above this Google offers professional-grade tiers of between 2TB and 30TB (that's 30,000GB) for up to $149 a month.
There is one key exception to this new storage structure, and that is for owners of Google Pixel smartphones. Users of the Pixel 2, 3, 4 and 5 will continue to receive free, unlimited storage of photos saved at the high-quality standard. If you are still using an original Pixel phone from back in 2016, you will retain access to free and unlimited storage of photos at original quality, instead of being compressed to high quality.