How will Google’s changes to Photos affect you

Google has announced a change from their long held free photo backup policy. Learn how Google’s changes to photos will affect you.

What are Google’s changes to Photos?

Google Photos currently provides free storage of all photos of normal high quality (up to 16 megapixels) to be stored for free without counting against your 15 GB allotment. This policy covers most photos taken with a smart phone today.

As of June 1, 2021, Google is changing this policy. All photos already stored in Google Photos before June 1, 2021 will continue to be excluded from your Google Drive storage limits.

Photos uploaded after June 1, 2021. regardless of size and quality, will count toward your storage allotment. Every Google account (whether you have a Gmail address or not) includes 15 GB of free storage, called Google Drive. Google Drive is cloud storage, located on Google’s servers, and is used to store everything in your Google Drive as well as all of your Gmail.

Storage Limits in Google Accounts

Free 15 GB – what counts and what can I store there?

Google Drive can be used to store Google content such as Google Docs and Sheets, as well as other documents that the user chooses to place there, such as PDFs. Although Gmail does not show up in Google Drive, the storage of your Gmail does count toward the 15 GB.

Storing photos will now count toward the 15 GB. How big are photos? First, it depends on the quality of the photos, which is measured in megapixels (MP).

  • Newer iPhones and Google Pixel cameras are around 12 MP
  • A decent DSLR camera might be 20 – 40 MP

How much space do photos and videos take, and how many can I fit in each GB of storage space I have? (Estimates)

Compressed (JPEG)
File size (MB)How many
in 1 GB
Uncompressed RAW (24 bits per pixel)
File size (MB)How many
in 1 GB

You can also check out Google’s estimating tool. It will give you an estimate based on photos of the size you uploaded in past, and at the rate you uploaded in the past, of when you will reach the storage limit of your Google Drive.

When does this change in Google Photos affect me?

June 1, 2021 – Any photos uploaded before that date will remain free from the storage limits. Any photos uploaded after June 1st will count toward your Google Drive storage.

What are the storage options for your photos?

If you are already at the limit of your free Google Drive storage, or if you expect to reach those limits soon, you still have options. Purchasing additional storage space in Google Drive can also be affordable. Currently increasing Google Drive storage to 100 GB total is about $2 per month or $20 per year, and increasing to 1 TB total is about $10 per month or $100 per year.

Conventional wisdom suggests at least 2 or 3 copies of your photos gives you good backup. One of those copies might be on your computer, an external hard disk drive, a thumb drive or some other physical location. Other locations might be in another cloud storage such as iCloud, DropBox, Amazon, or Shutterfly.

Make sure your settings reflect your decision – turn off automatic backup if you are no longer going to have Google Photos automatically upload your pictures.

How to download photos from Google Drive

Whether you decide to download a copy of your photos because you are leaving Google Photos, or you just want another copy in case something unexpected happens, here is how you download a copy of your photos from Google Photos.

Go to

Choose the types of information you want to download. In this case, choose Google Photos.

Google will notify you when the photos are ready for download.

The Verve has written a good article to get started with as well.

Other Google-related changes

Google will begin deleting inactive accounts. If an account has no activity for two years, they will send notifications and eventually delete all data. They will also delete accounts that remain over their storage limit for an extended period of time.

Changes are coming. You can manage your data if you keep an eye on how Google’s changes to Photos will affect you.

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