PSA: Back your pictures up to Google Photos before free storage ends

Free storage will be limited to 15GB starting on June 1.

Virojt Changyencham/Moment/Getty Images

There’s less than one month before Google ends free, unlimited backups to Google Photos. The company announced last year that, starting June 1, 2021, any photos uploaded to the service will count towards a user’s 15GB storage allotment across its suite of apps including Gmail and Drive.

Any photos you upload before June 1 won’t count towards your limit, so if you have a ton of photos sitting on a hard drive somewhere, it might not hurt to back them up to Google Photos before the cap hits. Owners of a Pixel 2 or newer Pixel phone will continue to enjoy unlimited free storage so long as photos are uploaded directly from the phone.

Some people have understandably been upset about Google’s decision, calling it a classic bait and switch — the company lured people into backing up their entire photo collections for free, helping to improve Google Photos’ image recognition algorithms before asking users to start paying if they want to keep using it. Google Photos is well regarded for its search feature that can find images based on keywords alone.

Google, for its part, has said that it doesn’t use information from Photos for advertising purposes, so it needs to charge for storage in order to keep the service sustainable.

Unlimited storage will still be free for those who upload directly from a Pixel phone.Shutterstock

Pricing — Under its Google One subscription offering, the most affordable storage plan starts at $1.99 per month and offers users 100GB of space across the company's myriad of services, from Photos to Drive and Gmail. Higher priced versions include more storage, like 200GB for $2.99 per month, and goodies like access to Google's VPN in the $9.99 per month plan.

The premium version of Google Photos includes not just more storage but also some exclusive editing features, like one that can add a bokeh blur (the blur behind a subject in the foreground) to photos during post-processing.