Google Photos with its unlimited image backups is probably one of the best things to ever come out of Google. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Last November, Google announced that it would no longer allow for unlimited photo backups. Instead, all photos would start counting against your pooled Google storage beginning on June 1, 2021.
Since November was so long ago, Google posted a reminder about the impending cut-off date yesterday on its blog. It also went into more details about the new policy and who is affected. Basically, everyone will be affected eventually, but if you have a Pixel smartphone you have a bit more time on your side.
Long story short, here’s what you need to know about photo backups going forward on Google Photos. First off, Google is renaming the “High quality” tier to “Storage saver.” The compression won’t change and it will still be the same quality as before, it’s just being rebranded.
Next, all of your “High quality” photos and videos before June 1, 2021, will be exempt from your storage quota and continue to be stored in Google Photos for free. This is for everyone, whether you own a Pixel or any other phone.
Now, if you’re a Pixel user, then things start to get a little more complicated based on which Pixel smartphone you own. Owners of the original 2016 Pixel will continue to get free unlimited Original quality photo and video backups until your phone dies.
Pixel 2 owners got unlimited free storage of photos and videos in Original quality up until January 16, 2021, after which unlimited storage will only be available in Storage saver quality.
Pixel 3 users get free unlimited backups of Original quality photos and videos uploaded until January 1, 2022. So you have a little more time than the rest of us, but after that date, you’ll only receive free unlimited backups in Storage saver.
Finally, Pixel 3a, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4, and Pixel 5 owners will only get free unlimited backups of photos in Storage saver quality going forward.
In the future, Google won’t be providing free unlimited storage in Original quality to its Pixel lineup of phones. It confirmed this with The Verge last year. So, enjoy it while you can Pixel users because you won’t be seeing it again.
Going forward, Google has also introduced some new tools to help with keeping an eye on your storage. For starters, there will be a personalized estimate based on your usage of Google Photos. It will let you know how long it would take you to fill up the rest of your remaining storage and you’ll also receive a notification if you’re getting close to the limit, as well as an email.
There will also be a new tool to help you manage your storage by helping you locate photos and videos you might want to delete, such as blurry photos, screenshots, or large videos.