Google Photos Drops Free Uploads After Roping in Users for 5 Years

Google Photos

Google Photos has been one of those must-have apps for most people. The app, which has been around for more than five years, came to the market with one promise: give you a platform, or rather, free cloud storage for your images. This, it would do, without a user needed to do anything; just allow it to backup your images from your camera roll (or any other allowed folder), using either mobile data or Wi-Fi, and that is it. And the promise has been met over these years. The majority of us have to thank Google Photos for reliably backing up our images, some of which would have been lost if the app did not exist.

It should be noted that the offer backs up images while maintaining the quality of those pictures. Those who want to upload full-res snaps to the platform need to pay up for additional storage under Google One. At one time, Google had availed full-res image upload for Pixel owners, but that has since been closed.

Now, the same thing is coming to the rest of the pack because as of 21 June 2021, Google will start charging users for additional storage ones the 15 GB storage has been exhausted. The development is based on new Google Drive policy change that will see Google Workspace documents being counted against the same cap. At the same time, Google will delete data from inactive accounts, that is those that have not been used (or logged in to) in the last two years. The banner about the notice has been on display mainly on Google Drive.

However, it should be noted that all photos uploaded to the app will not be part of the June 1 cap. To this end, users have a long time to make a decision about using the platform, or moving on to the next cloud storage platform. We are guessing certain long-time users will remain onboard because they have invested in the platform (with thousands of images, and tens, or hundreds of neatly organized albums). Moving these photos to other platforms is going to be a headache.

This is actually a very clever move by Google. Remember when we lauded Google Photos, and asked why it is free? The app roped us, gave us excellent features over time, and ensured we were deep in it before introducing the cap thing.

On the bright side of things, Google is not fully taking away the free high-quality uploads. Pixel users will be able to do so after June 1, and the images will not count against their cap.

Again, Google already offers plenty of storage for new users at 15 GB. However, most people who have been using Google services for an extended period have already exhausted that, or about to do so.

Therefore, the development is like a ruse to onboard people into the Google One storage options. The service has since been supplemented with additional features such as a VPN.

When that time comes, Google will alert users about the approaching cap. Google will also give users some tools to manage their photos, including one that identifies blurry images and screenshots that can then be deleted.

Google Photos will also show an estimate of how much time you have in your tier, which is supposedly and accurate method in place of storage space.

In case you are asking, Google One costs as follows:

  1. $1.99 per month for 100 GB
  2. $2.99 per month for 200 GB
  3. Goes all the way to $149.99 per month for 30 TB

Did we also mention that Google Photos will also put some image editing tools behind a paywall?


We launched Google Photos more than five years ago and since then, it’s become more than just an app to manage your photos. It’s become a place you go when you feel nostalgic and want to reminisce. Today, Google Photos is the home for more than 4 trillion photos and videos, including yours, and a remarkable 28 billion new photos and videos are uploaded every week. In order to welcome even more of your memories and build Google Photos for the future, we are announcing a change to our storage policy.

  1. Starting June 1, 2021, all new photos and videos backed up in High quality will count toward the free 15 GB of storage that comes with your Google Account or any additional storage you may have purchased, the same way other Google services like Google Drive and Gmail already do.
  2. All photos and videos you back up in High quality before June 1, 2021, are exempt from this change and will not count toward your Google Account storage. This includes all of your existing content uploaded in High quality.

We don’t take this decision lightly and we acknowledge that this is a big shift, so wanted to let you know well in advance and give you resources to help you navigate this change.

Do I need to do anything right away?
No, you can continue to use Google Photos to back up your photos and videos. After June 1, 2021 we will reach out and send you reminders when you are nearing your storage limit. Most users will have years before they need to take action.
When will I reach my free 15 GB of storage?
We created a personalized estimate that shows how much time you have until you reach your quota. This estimate takes into account how frequently you back up photos, videos and other content to your Google Account.
What can I do to manage my storage?
On June 1, 2021, we will be launching a new storage management tool which will help you easily find and delete dark, blurry, and otherwise unwanted content. You can also purchase more storage with Google One where available.