Google, which had previously provided unlimited storage for what it called “high quality” photos, revealed in November that “unlimited” will be reduced to “up to 15GB on your Google account.” In other words, while picture and video storage do not currently count against your limit of 15 free gigabytes on a Google account, it will begin to do so on June 1st, along with your Gmail, Google Drive files, and other stored data. If you’ve reached the 15GB limit, you’ll have to pay for the Google One service to expand your storage capacity.
If you’re a Google Photos user who finds all of this annoying, you may be considering leaving. But first, it’s a good idea to look at your options. Here are some of the most common photo storage services, along with their basic fees, so you can decide if you want to turn.
Google gives each account 15GB of free storage space. However, Google images have been viewed differently in recent years: under its “high quality” scheme, Google stores an infinite number of photos for free as long as they are compressed to 16 megapixels. Videos are restricted to a maximum resolution of 1080p. “Original quality” mobile photographs — those that had not been compressed — were not included in the unlimited plan but were counted as standard images.
Much of that, though, is changing. As stated before, Google will begin using images in its storage estimates on June 1st, 2021. Once you’ve reached the 15GB limit, you’ll have to pay for the Google One service to get more data.
Before you rush to invest in Google One, keep in mind that Google provides multiple mitigating factors to its users. When the new plan goes into effect, the clock starts; images uploaded before that time will not count against your 15GB limit. Furthermore, if you have a Pixel 5 or earlier model phone, you can continue to upload “high-quality” / “storage saver” images without exceeding your 15GB max.
Google is testing out several tools to assist confused users, including one that calculates how much time you have left before you need to buy more storage space and another that will help you delete fuzzy images, too-large videos, and other things that can take up space.
If you are a member of Apple’s ecosystem, you have convenient access to iCloud Images, which is Apple’s counterpart to Google Photos. As a backup for your pictures, iCloud Photos is linked to the Phone app on your Mac or iOS computer. Your iCloud account comes with 5GB of storage space by default; after that, it costs 99 cents per month for 50GB, $2.99 per month for 200GB, and $9.99 per month for 2TB. Windows users can also view iCloud Photos via an associated app; Android users must use a browser.
Flickr also has a free plan, but it is restricted to 1,000 images — under some parameters: photo files are limited to 200MB and video files to 1GB. You can get unlimited storage without ads for $6.99 a month or $59.99 a year (plus tax). Other benefits of a paid annual membership include statistics on which of your images are trending and discounts from several companies, including Adobe and SmugMug.