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Google One 101: Price, storage limits and how it's different from Google Drive

What is Google One? We've got everything you need to know about the cloud storage subscription option.

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Here's what you need to know about Google One.

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Google One, formerly known as Paid Google Drive Storage, is Google's cloud storage service that's been around since 2018. But you may have only considered signing up for the service recently, as Google said it will cap unlimited free storage in Google Photos at 15GB starting June 1, encouraging people to join Google One to get more space. 

Signing up for a Google One membership gets you 100GB of space to use across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos for $2 a month. You'll also get access to a number of other features, like automatic backup for your Android device's photos, messages and contacts.

Here's everything you need to know about Google One, including membership prices, storage amounts, family plans and more. 

What is Google One? How is it different from Google Drive?

Google One is a monthly subscription service that gives you expanded online cloud storage, which you can use across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos. Meanwhile, Google Drive is a free storage service where you can keep up to 15GB of files and photos. Google One replaced Google Drive storage plans in 2018 -- so now, if you want more space in Google Drive on top of your free 15GB, you have to pay for a Google One plan.

Google One is accessible through your browser or in the Google One app. The app isn't a must for using Google One, but depending on what level of storage you purchase and what you plan on using it for, it can enhance the service and make it easier to use. 

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Google One can get you rewards from the Google Store.

Google/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

How do you sign up for Google One?

To sign up, go to Google One's website and make sure you're signed into the Google Account you want to use. You can poke around, and it should tell you that you currently have the standard 15GB of storage. It'll also show how much of the 15GB you've used already, and in what way (Google Drive, Gmail or Google Photos). From there, you can either stick with the 15GB free tier or choose a plan. 

There are six different tiers you can sign up for, starting with the 100GB tier for $2 a month, which Google recommends. If you click that, Google will confirm your purchase with the card you have on file (or your Google Play balance). From there, click Subscribe and you'll be good to go. Added bonus -- you'll get a couple Google Play points too.

How much does Google One cost? Is there a free trial? 

Google One's cost depends on the storage tier you've chosen. There's not a free trial, per se, but Google Drive's typical 15GB of storage doesn't have an accompanying monthly fee. If you want to sign up for Google One to get more than the standard free 15GB of service, here's a look at the different storage tiers and prices:

  • 100GB: $2 a month or $20 annually
  • 200GB: $3 a month or $30 annually
  • 2TB: $10 a month or $100 annually
  • 10TB: $100 a month 
  • 20TB: $200 a month
  • 30TB: $300 a month
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A lot of Google One's features can be accessed easily through the app.

Shelby Brown/CNET

What do I get with each Google One membership plan? 

Each Google One membership tier offers a bit more than the last. Here's what each plan offers:

100GB, $2 monthly plan

For $2 a month (or $20 annually), you'll get 100GB of storage to use across Drive, Gmail and Photos. You'll also get 24/7 access to a team of Google experts for your tech questions and emergencies via chat or email. With a Google One membership, you'll also be able to share your plan with up to six family members, so everyone can take advantage of the extra storage in their individual Google accounts. 

The subscription also has extra benefits including free and discounted content on hotels or Google Stadia, some of which are redeemable by family members you've shared your plan with. It will also automatically back up your Android phone's photos, videos, messages and contacts. 

200GB, $3 monthly plan

In addition to the benefits you get with the 100GB plan, 200GB subscribers get more storage as well as an added member benefit: 3% cash back on purchases in the Google Store. 

2TB, $10 monthly plan

Subscribing to the 2TB of storage plan gets you all of the same member benefits of the prior two plans, along with the added perk of up to 10% cash back in the Google Store. Subscribers at this tier also get a VPN for their Android phone. 

Other plans

To gain access to 10TB, 20TB or 30TB, you must already be a Google One member -- meaning you'll need to have paid for one of the previously listed tiers. These are massive amounts of storage though, and it's highly unlikely the average person would need it. Once you're a subscriber, the final three levels only differ from the 2TB plan in terms of storage size. 

How does the Google One VPN work? 

If you're on the 2TB or higher plans, you'll get access to VPN by Google One. The VPN is built into the Google One app, and is meant to provide an extra layer of security when you're online. Under the Home tab on the app, scroll down to Enable VPN. On the next screen, you'll just swipe the toggle to turn it on.

In addition, Google One offers Pro Sessions so you can schedule sessions with Google Experts to learn more about VPNs and online safety. (Check out all of the VPN services CNET recommends here.)

How do I share my membership with family members? 

With your Google One paid membership, you'll be able create a group of up to five additional family members to share your plan with. Creating a family group will allow people in that group to have access to the Google Family Calendar, Family Keep, Google Assistant, Family Link, YouTube Premium plans (if you subscribe), Google Play Family TV and more. 

To start adding people, open Google One in your browser or app. You can add family members on the home screen in the browser, it'll be under the Settings tab > Manage Family Settings > Manage Family Group in the app.

Simply choose Invite Family Members, click the "+" sign, and type in each person's email. Click send to send the invite to your family member, who will get a little over a week to respond. Once they accept, you'll see their profile photo appear next to yours as a member, and you'll see how many invitations you have left. 

If you want to remove someone, just click their profile and select Remove Member. You can also share your parent privileges by tapping Manage Parent Privileges. To remove the family group, while under Manage Family Group, click the Settings icon in the top right corner and select Delete Family Group.

How do I find and use my member benefits?

To take advantage of your member benefits, you can select Benefits in the Google One app or on the browser version. When I signed up for the 100GB plan, there was a listing for up to 40% off hotels. You can click Learn More to see how to search for hotels if you want to see how to apply it. Google One also notes that more benefits are always coming in. Clicking Benefits History will show you a record of the benefits you've redeemed. 

How do I chat with the Google experts? 

To get some extra help, click the Support tab in Google One. Experts are available 24/7. Select the language you're more comfortable conversing in, whether you prefer chat or email, and fill out the form that generates. One of the Google experts will be in contact afterwards. 

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How do I cancel Google One or change plans? 

If you sign up for a Google One plan and realize it's not enough -- or too much -- storage, it's easy to adjust your plans in your browser or through the app. 

To change plans in the app, choose Settings and Change Membership Plan. From there, you can move between bigger, smaller, monthly or annual plans to fit your needs. 

If you want to alter your plan on your browser, go to Google One's website and make sure you're logged in on the correct Google Account. Click Storage on the left hand side of the screen and then select Get More Storage, or scroll down for more options. Select the plan you want and follow the onscreen prompts to confirm. You can also go to Settings and select Change Membership Plan. 

If you want to cancel your Google One membership, visit Settings -- in your browser or in the app -- and choose Cancel Membership. 

For more, check out how to prepare for Google ending its unlimited photo storage, and everything you need to know about Apple's subscription bundle Apple One.