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Explained: How will the changes in Google free cloud storage policy impact you?

We explain everything you need to know about Google’s new online cloud storage policy and how it impacts you, the user.

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Google’s online cloud storage policy will undergo a major change from June 1, 2021. The reason: the search giant will no longer offer unlimited free storage for uploading photos and videos onto its Google Photos service. But that’s not at all: Google will also start deleting content from inactive accounts. We explain everything you need to know about Google’s new online cloud storage policy and how it impacts you, the user.

What is the existing policy from Google?

Users on a regular Google Account get 15GB of storage space free. This is considerably more than Microsoft, which offers 5GB free space on OneDrive and Apple’s iCloud, which offers 5GB as well.

This 15GB space counts towards the user’s Gmail, Drive and Photos. Drive includes all files, spreadsheets, etc which are created on Google’s suite of apps such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc. However, photos which were uploaded to the Google Photos app were not counted to this free space. This applied to all high-resolution photos and videos and express resolution photos and videos.

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According to Google’s definition, when you are uploading photos at high resolution, they are compressed to save space. Photos larger than 16MP get resized to 16MP. All videos at more than 1080p resolution are also resized to high-definition 1080p. In express resolution, the photos are at a maximum of 3MP, and videos are at 480p resolution.

Those who were uploading photos and videos at original resolution, meaning there was no compression of the photos or videos, will not be affected by the change at all. That’s because if you uploaded photos or videos at original resolution, Google did count these against the online storage available in your account.

READ | Best Google Photos alternatives: Free storage, paid cloud storage plans and more

What is the major change to the policy?

Starting June 1, 2021, Google Photos will no longer be free as earlier. All photos and videos uploaded post June 1, 2021 will be counted towards the account storage. Under the earlier policy it was technically possible for you to keep uploading photos and videos without running out of space on the free account, because it did not count. But all that will change next year.

So why is Google making this change?


It is not surprising to see Google make the change considering it has more than a 1 billion users for each of its products and providing so much free cloud storage does not seem like a feasible option.

Google itself explained in a blogpost that “people are uploading more content than ever before—in fact, more than 4.3 million GB are added across Gmail, Drive, and Photos every day.” The company says it needs to make these changes to keep pace with the growing demand.

Further, Google’s move will likely push users who were on the fence to make payments for using its cloud service, especially those who have now become dependent on Google Photos for uploading and storing their phone’s photo gallery.


The company offers paid options for extra storage under the Google One program. In India, it starts at 200GB for Rs 210 per month, 2TB for Rs 650 per month or Rs 6500 per year, 10TB at Rs 3,250 per month and 20TB at Rs 6,500 per month.

I don’t want to pay and I have a lot of photos on Google. Does it mean I will have to delete all my earlier photos?

Google is giving some concessions. All photos and videos uploaded before June 1, 2021 will continue to remain free and not count against the storage. So if you have somehow managed to upload more than 15GB of photos and videos to your Google Account till date, don’t worry. You don’t have to delete them.

But all photos and videos uploaded post June 1, 2021 will be counted against the free space that Google gives you. And if you plan to keep uploading more photos and videos, it might make sense to pay for the service, given the 15GB is divided across Gmail, Photos and Drive.

For users who have a Google One account which is a paid account, there’s nothing to worry about and nothing really changes. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram


READ | Google Photos: Here’s how to export or download all pictures, videos offline

Why is Google deleting content from inactive accounts?

As part of the new policy, Google will delete content from inactive accounts. Any account which has been inactive for more than two years or 24 months, might find content deleted from products where the user is inactive. So if you have not used Google Photos for your account for two years, then the company will delete content from that particular product.


But “Google One members who are within their storage quota and in good-standing will not be impacted by this new inactive policy,” says the company. Thankfully, Google will warn you plenty of times before deleting the data and you will have the option of downloading the content as well.

You can keep the account active by “periodically” visiting “Gmail, Google Photos and Google Drive” on the web or through a Google app, according to the company. If you have exceeded the storage limit for 2 years, you might also find your content being deleted. Again, Google will warn before it decides to delete all your data from accounts if you cross the storage limit.


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First published on: 05-12-2020 at 07:59 IST
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