Google recently announced they are taking away the benefit of unlimited free photo storage.
What does this really mean? Let’s find out…
So - Google have announced that from June 2021 they will no longer be providing free space to store photos.
When you sign up for a Google account, they give you a quite generous 15GB of space to store data, whether that’s email, documents or photos.
High Quality photos, those that are slightly reduced in quality were not counted towards your storage quota. Now, I know there’s no such thing as free, since Google use your data for their own ends; but that’s a small(ish) price for storage.
Any files created in Drive, such as docs, sheets, slides, forms, drawings or jam board were also ‘free’. You could create to your hearts content and not have your storage limit reduced.
Google claims that over 28 million photos and videos are uploaded to Photos every week; and that takes space.
So, you can imagine the furore that erupted when Google announced that from June 2021, all photos will count towards the storage quote in Google. Not only that, but files created in Google Drive will also no longer be ‘free’, and will also count to depleting your storage space.
Bear in mind that Google will only count these AFTER 1st June 2021. Anything created or uploaded before that date won’t count towards your quota.
Now, to be fair, I’ve already used up the 15GB, and through various offers over the years, I have 40GB of free storage - let’s just hope they don’t take that away and I’ve always said that I’d be willing to pay for a service, or an app, if I believe it is worth it.
I have it set up so that all photos (and video) that I take on my iPhone automatically back up to Google Photos. It’s peace of mind.
If anything happens to my phone, at least my photos and videos will be safe.
In fact, I double up and also use the free storage available with Amazon Prime. Yes.
Did you know that if you are an Amazon Prime user, you can upload unlimited photos. This doesn’t apply to video, but, hey, it’s a lot of pictures.
Then, every so often, I’ll download a batch of photos and store them on an external hard drive. Talk about safety first!!
Google have said that, on average, most people would take about 3 years to fill their free storage quota, with photos. Sounds good in principal.
They’ve also said that if the account is inactive, then after 2 years, they’ll start to delete content. I don’t have the clear details on this, but it’s one to be aware of.
So, what should you do?
First of all - it really depends on how many photos you upload; or files you create.
Let’s put this into perspective. How many photos can you fit into a gigbyte? Well, based on the 12MP cameras that exist on most smart phones today, you could fit about 275 photos in just 1GB. Videos will take up more space.
If you decide to stay with Google and reach the limit, then what’s the cost?
Google have their Google One storage plans:
For 100GB of space, then it’s £16 per year. Not exactly a fortune. And 100GB is A LOT of content. In fact, 100GB will hold approximately 27,500 photos!
Running wild? Upgrade to 200GB , then this will cost £25 per year.
Go absolutely nuts and 2TB will cost £80 per year. That’s over half a million photos
Remember though, this isn’t just for photos - this is cloud storage for all your documents as well. If you scan paperwork you receive, documents you write, spreadsheets, presentations. The lot.
Now, if you are an Apple user, you might want to keep all your photos (and documents) within the Apple iCloud ecosystem; and with Apple you automatically get 5GB of storage free with your iCloud account. This really isn’t very much space.
You can upgrade this storage to 50GB for 79p per month (£9.50 per year)
200GB is £2.49 per month (£30 per year)
2TB is £6.99 per month (£84 per year)
So, the pricing is comparable; but there is one thing to bear in mind. If you use an iCloud account, you are pretty much tied into Apple. Whereas, with Google, it’s a little more free, and accessible.
There are other cloud storage providers, that, again, are comparable in pricing, such as Microsoft OneDrive. In fact, with a Home Office 365 subscription, which can be used by up to 6 people, you get a whopping 6TB of storage - that’s 1TB for each person. That costs £80 per year and you also have access to the full suite of Microsoft Office products - word, excel, powerpoint and more.
It actually makes Google and Apple look mightily expensive!
Flickr has a free plan, but it only allows up to 1000 photos before you need to pay.
Dropbox is another platform for storage; but it’s one of the most expensive at £10 for a personal account - for 2TB of data
At the moment I have about 25GB of space available with Google, and I reckon it will take me a long time before I reach the 40GB limit… but when I do, then I’ll pay.
What I do find amazing is the number of people who complain about having to pay. I really believe that we should get off the ‘free everything’ bandwagon.
You wouldn’t expect free petrol for your car, or free shopping in the supermarket.
There are costs involved, and sensible businesses need, at least, to cover their costs.
Maybe it’s an anti-Google thing. It’s always, generally, been free use. OK; I’ve said it before, it’s free from monetary value, but they do have access to what you’re doing.
In exchange for your photos, they amass incredible amounts of data, including location, facial geometry, object recognition and depth information.
I have heard of some people who swear by using a network storage device, to keep all their files local and accessible - but this isn’t for the everyday person. Of course, you could just download them and store them offline - but again, this just hides them away and you can’t look at them.
In fact, Google Photos has improved over the years, to not just act as a storage box for your photos, but also somewhere you can edit them. With some great filters, cropping and straightening tools - albeit basic, and not quite Adobe Photoshop, plus the AI used to find specific photos, it really is quite powerful. This will get better in the future.
Through charging, this also helps to relieve potential of anti-trust actions being taken against them.
So whether it’s Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft (OneDrive), Dropbox or any other of the multitude of cloud storage providers, you pays your money and you takes your choice.
What do you think about Google charging to store your photos? Is this something you’d pay for, or are you in the camp of finding