Thursday, June 17

Goodbye to Google Photos with unlimited storage: what changes, who does it affect and what alternatives are there | Technology


Google Photos icon on a mobile phone.
Google Photos icon on a mobile phone.

At the end of 2020 Google reported that Google Photos storage would cease to be unlimited on June 1. The day has come and from now on many users will have to start paying attention to the content they save on this service if they do not want to have to pay for a subscription. In just one week, 28 billion new photos and videos are uploaded to Google Photos, according to the tech giant. EL PAÍS reviews the keys to Google’s new storage policy: what changes, who is affected, what has led the Mountain View company to make another decision or what other services can be used.

What exactly changes with Google’s new storage policy?

Google Photos allows you to create a backup copy of photos and videos to be able to consult them from any device. Using this service has always been free and will continue to be. What users have to pay on certain occasions is for storage. Until now, Google allowed them to save all the photos and videos they wanted for free. It did not require any limits and only put one condition: that instead of saving the original copy of the photos and videos, a compressed version of them should be stored. It was what Google used to call saving photos in “high quality” and now calls “saving storage.”

But most users can no longer enjoy this unlimited storage. From now on, everything uploaded to Google Photos – regardless of whether an original copy or a compressed version has been saved – will take up space. Google gives each user 15 GB free for its Gmail mail service and its Drive and Google Photos storage services. If the three of them exceed 15 GB, it will be necessary to pay a subscription.

Who are affected by these changes?

Google Photos has more than 500 million monthly users. This change affects those who use Google Photos and save images in “high quality”. Those who have always uploaded photos in original quality should not worry in principle, since these images have always taken up space. The change does not affect those users who already have a mobile of the Pixel brand, developed by Google. Photos uploaded in high quality from those smartphones they will not be affected and may continue to be stored for free. However, the next Google phones will not have this advantage either, as confirmed by the company to the specialized American portal The Verge.

Do I have to worry if I have uploaded images to Google Photos before June 1?

If the photos have been saved before that day, there is nothing to worry about. These changes affect only those images that are uploaded to Google Photos from now on. In Google’s own words, “this means that photos and videos copied before June 1, 2021 will continue to be considered free and exempt from the storage limit.”

What should you pay attention to from now on?

To Google account storage. The technology giant ensures that when the free space is going to end, it will notify it in the application and communicate it by email. To understand how change affects yourself, can be seen on this website a custom estimate made by Google on how long it will possibly take for the free 15GB to be used up. This estimate takes into account how often photos, videos, and other account content are backed up. Google estimated in 2020 that, once the switch occurred, more than 80% of users “should still be able to store about three more years of memories with their free 15GB of storage.”

How much do Google’s storage plans cost?

The Mountain View company offers 15GB of free storage. For those who need more space, there would be the option of hiring 100 GB for 1.99 euros per month or 19.99 euros per year; 200 GB, for 2.99 euros per month or 29.99 euros per year; or 2 TB, for 9.99 euros per month or 99.99 euros per year. For the vast majority of users, the first two options would be more than enough.

More information

Why has Google made this decision?

The Mountain View Company announced this decision in November 2020. “Since many of you rely on Google Photos to store your memories, it is important that it is not only a great product, but that it continues to meet your needs for the long term. To welcome more memories and create Google Photos for the future, we changed our policy of unlimited high-quality storage, “he explained then in a statement. The technology company assured that its intention was also to face the growing demand for storage and maintain its commitment “not to use the information from Google Photos for advertising purposes.”

What steps should I take if I want to leave Google Photos?

The first step would be to download all the content that has been uploaded to Google Photos. Can be done through the service Google Takeout. “Export a copy of the content from your Google account to have a backup copy or use it in a non-Google service,” says the company. The user can choose which specific albums he wants to download. Once selected, you have to choose between some options such as the format in which you prefer to download the images and videos.

Google advises that the process can take “a long time (hours or maybe days) to complete.” In a test conducted by this newspaper, the backup took only a few hours to complete. When the export finishes, the tech giant sends an email to the user to let them know. Once all the material has been downloaded, all the images and videos stored in Google Photos can be deleted.

What other alternatives can be used?

There are multiple alternatives to Google Photos. Each user must assess which one is best suited to their needs and to what extent they care or not that it is paid. Among the most interesting options is Mega, which in addition to giving 50 GB of free storage for new accounts, allows having 400 GB for 4.99 euros per month or 2 TB for 9.99 euros per month. Another option is Flickr, which allows you to save 1,000 photos or videos for free or have unlimited storage from just over five euros per month.

OneDrive it would be Microsoft’s alternative. In this case, the free storage is 5GB and the 100GB one costs two euros per month. There is also Dropbox, which offers 2 GB free to new accounts and 2 TB for 9.99 euros per month. And for Amazon Prime customers – which costs 36 euros a year – probably the most appropriate option is to use Amazon Prime Photos. This service allows them to store unlimitedly all their photos and offers 5 GB for videos.

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