Google has announced that it is ending its unlimited free photo and video storage through Google Photos. On June 1, 2021, users will be capped at 15 GB of free 'high quality' photo storage per account. This change will take place alongside additional changes with Google Drive's storage programs, including counting Google Workspace documents and spreadsheets against the same cap, per The Verge. Google will also begin deleting data from inactive accounts (accounts that haven't logged in for at least two years).

While it's unfortunate, if not understandable, that Google will be changing its storage policy, the company has given users plenty of time to determine if they are willing to pay for additional storage beyond the 15 GB cap or find photo storage solutions elsewhere. Further, any photos and documents you upload before June 1, 2021, will not count against the 15 GB cap. The cap will come into effect with files uploaded after this date. Additionally, it is worth noting that the existing storage is only unlimited for 'high quality' files, not 'original quality' files. Google has long been compressing photos and videos as part of its unlimited storage program.

Image credit: Google

As The Verge points out, the change takes away one of the best features of Google Photos. The website wrote an article in 2015 about the significance of Google Photos and how important the service's storage solution proved to be.

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Looking ahead to next June, how will Google Photos look relative to its primary competition with its 15 GB cap? As of now, Apple's iCloud service offers only 5GB of free storage, so Google will maintain its advantage there. Google also claims that upwards of 80 percent of users won't hit the new 15 GB cap for three years. For heavy users, a new alert system will help you stay aware of your free storage limit. Google offers a 'personalized estimate' to help users determine how long their storage will prove sufficient.

To help save space, Google Photos will incorporate tools allowing users to easily find and delete blurry and dark images. Image credit: Google

Google Photos will include new storage management tools, such as one that helps you locate photos you likely don't want to keep long term. Google states, 'This tool will help you review the memories you want to keep while also surfacing shots you might prefer to delete, like dark or blurry photos or large videos.' Perhaps Google's machine learning will come into play here as well, letting you find and delete more specific images.

If you own a Google Pixel smartphone and currently store images in 'high quality', today's announcement doesn't impact you. Google says that 'Photos and videos uploaded in High quality from [Pixel 1-5 devices] will continue to be exempt from this change, even after June 1, 2021.'

For users needing more than 15 GB of storage, Google will be heavily pushing its Google One membership. Image credit: Google

If you want to continue to use Google Photos for your photo/video backup needs and need more than 15 GB, plans through Google One will start at $1.99 USD per month for 100 GB of storage plus additional benefits