Google Photos is the most popular photo and video storage and sharing service on the planet. Since being released as a standalone service in 2015, Google Photos have been reeling in new users every day, especially with the help of their free, unlimited photo storage policy. Recently, Google made some changes to the policy, which has left people wondering whether Google Photos is still offering free, unlimited storage as they used to.
Today, we will take a look at the query at hand, tell you whether you can still get unlimited storage with Google Photos.
Does Google Photos have unlimited storage?
As mentioned, Google Photos used to offer unlimited storage in slightly reduced quality (up to 12 megapixels). This drew everyone to Google Photos as no other service offered the same degree of convenience. After five years of service, Google terminated the free, unlimited photo storage option in June 2021. As of now, Google Photos does not offer anyone free, unlimited file storage in reduced or original quality. Everything is now tied to your Google Drive storage. This means that every photo you upload after June 1st would count against your Google Drive storage.
For example, if you have 5GB free in your Google Drive account and you upload 1GB of photos after the deadline, your Google Drive capacity will drop down to 4GB. Earlier, Google Photos and Google Drive were not tied together, with the exception of ‘Original Quality’ photos.
Can you get unlimited storage in Google Photos?
Before the first of June 2021, everyone Google user could upload unlimited ‘Express’ or ‘High Quality’ images to Google Photos without having to worry about exhausting their Google Drive storage. Only the users who wished to keep ‘Original Quality’ files (generally over 16 megapixels) had their Photos account linked to Google Drive. Currently, no one, irrespective of whether they are a free or premium user, can get unlimited storage in Google Photos.
The base 15GB storage is available to all Google account holders. If that is too restrictive for you, as we suspect would be, then the first premium package would cost you $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage space. If you go annual, you can have 100GB for $19.99. Next up is 200GB, which would cost you $2.99 per month. A year of 200GB storage would set you back by $29.99. Finally, you have the 2TB plan, which is the biggest plan that Google One offers. A month of 2TB storage costs $9.99 while the annual pack costs $99.99.
Google Drive used to have 10TB, 20TB, and 30TB packages up until 2018 but it has discontinued them since. The highest you can go is 2TB, which means there is no way to get unlimited Google Drive storage no matter how much you are willing to pay, unless you have a Pixel device.
Can you get unlimited Google Photos storage on a Pixel device?
Google is not only a software giant, it also makes neat mobile phones that are generally released once or twice a year, packing exclusive Google goodness. As we have discussed, Google Photos’ unlimited backup option has become unavailable. However, if you have a Pixel device — up to Pixel 5 — the rules are a bit different for you. From unlimited ‘Original quality’ storage to unlimited ‘Storage saver’ photo backup, Google Pixel phones offer it all.
- Original Pixel or Pixel XL: Unlimited ‘Original quality’ backup for life
- Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL: Unlimited ‘Storage saver’ backup for life
- Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL: Unlimited ‘Original quality’ backup until January 31st, 2022; Unlimited ‘Storage saver’ after it
- Pixel 3a, Pixel 4, Pixel XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5: Unlimited ‘Storage saver’ backup for life
Remember that saving files in ‘Original quality’ will count against your overall storage, unless you have an Original Pixel or you are using Pixel 3/XL until January 31st, 2022.
What is the best upload size for you?
Google Photos has not been the same since abandoning its free, unlimited storage decorum. Many users have complained about their new stance, but in reality, the move hardly comes off as a surprise. In an era where all of Google’s competitors have shifted to paid tiers — iCloud-backed Photos for example — Google Photos’ end of generosity was only a matter of time. However, if you are a casual user, you do not have to worry much about exhausting your storage, especially if you pick the right upload size.
There are three upload sizes available. Below we will check out all three of them and help you pick out the right tier for you.
This is the most space-consuming upload size, as it preserves the quality of your original photos. It saves photos in original quality, irrespective of their size and resolution. So, if you have a high-resolution mobile camera, the free 15 GBs are likely to run out pretty quickly. However, if you favor quality over quantity, feel free to pick the ‘Original quality’ option.
‘Storage saver’ is the default backup option for all users. Originally, users had free unlimited storage with this upload size. Now, it has been downgraded to a max of 15 GB. This simply means that every image uploaded after the 1st of June, 2021 would count against your total 15GB free Google storage. Thankfully, Google Photos’ compression techniques are rather impressive, which allows you to store most of your photos in great quality without exhausting your storage. For most people, ‘Storage saver’ is the best upload size to pick. Storage saver photos can also be printed fairly easily, up to 24 x 16 inches.
The smallest upload size for people who are very limited storage or have a hard time accessing a WiFi connection. Unlike Storage saver — where Google Photos does not compress your photos all too much — your photos are tinkered considerably if you pick the ‘Express’ option. Photos are compressed down to 3 megapixels, meaning your photos can be printed in up to 8 x 6-inch sheets. The compromises are far too many in ‘Express’ settings, which is why we do not recommend this upload size unless you are really desperate.
What happens when you exhaust your storage?
Google is an essential part of our online life, which is why it is important to keep an eye on the available Google storage. If you somehow run out of space, you could end up paying a hefty price. Now that Google Photos storage is counted against your free 15GB quota, the fear of storage exhaustion is rather real.
For those unaware, exhausting your Google storage not only impacts the backup ability of Google Photos, but it also makes your other Google services, such as Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, and more, completely useless. If you cross the 15GB mark and do not opt for a paid plan, you will not be able to send or receive emails, create new documents/sheets, upload files to Google Drive, and save photo backups to Google Photos.
Furthermore, Google has stated that it might even delete your old emails and such if you do not opt for a paid data plan or your account remains inactive for two years. All of this is, of course, very frightening, which would push more and more people toward’s Google’s paid storage service: Google One.
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