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Google Photos shifts goalposts on free back-ups and it’s bad news for all

Google has announced it is ending its policy of offering free unlimited storage via the Google Photos back-up app, a change in policy that will affect millions of users.

From June 1 2021, all new uploads will count towards a storage cap. Currently, ‘high quality’ uploads are free, while original resolution photos count towards available storage.

Google says that all photos currently backed-up will not be affected by the change. However, after June 1 next year, all future uploads will use up storage space. By default, Google offers all account holders 15GB of free storage for use across Gmail, Docs and its other cloud offerings. Add photos and video back ups to the mix and that space is unlikely to last very long.

Once full, it’ll be necessary to buy additional Google One cloud storage if users wish to continue backing-up their photos. That places users who’ve relied on the service for years in an unenviable position.

Related: How to back-up your photos

Do they take the step of paying for Google One storage – which starts at £1.59 a month for 100GB and ranges up to £7.99 for 2TB – or do they go to the hassle of moving their snaps elsewhere?

Google has been offering the unlimited free photo back-ups for five years and has long used this as a selling point to encourage people to jump on board when their hardware storage runs out. Now it is shifting the goalposts with millions already embedded into the ecosystem. Google says this has been done to ensure it is able to meet the demand moving forward.

In a blog post, the company says: “Since so many of you rely on Google Photos to store your memories, it’s important that it’s not just a great product, but also continues to meet your needs over the long haul. In order to welcome even more of your memories and build Google Photos for the future, we are changing our unlimited High quality storage policy.”

The firm adds: “This change also allows us to keep pace with the growing demand for storage. And, as always, we uphold our commitment to not use information in Google Photos for advertising purposes. We know this is a big shift and may come as a surprise, so we wanted to let you know well in advance and give you resources to make this easier.”


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