Google Photos' unlimited free storage is gone. Here's how to get more space

Google Photos started limiting free storage at 15GB in June, encouraging people to sign up for its Google One storage subscription service instead.

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Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome
3 min read
Google One Plan Upgrade when Google Photos Unlimited ends

As of June 1, Google has ended its unlimited free storage policy for Google Photos.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google Photos ended its unlimited free storage policy for photos and videos as of June 1. Now any new photos and videos you upload will count toward the free 15GB of storage that comes with every Google account. But don't worry: The photos or videos you uploaded before then won't be part of the cap. And Google has added a new free tool to help you manage your storage quota.

Google One, a subscription service announced last year, starts at $2 a month in the US for 100GB of storage and other features, like Google Store discounts. You can also check out the newly announced Pixel Pass bundle plan, which lets you combine Google services such as YouTube Premium, YouTube Music, Google Play Pass and Google One Storage. Plans start at $45 a month for two years when using it to buy a Pixel 6 or $55 a month for the same term for the Pixel 6 Pro.

Here's what you need to know about what the change means for you, including how to manage your Google Photos storage, subscribe to Google One and more.

Managing your Google Photos storage

Any photos and videos you backed up in Google Photos before the June 1 deadline will be considered free and exempt from the storage limit. Though that deadline has passed, you can still check your backup quality in the Photos app by going to Settings > Back up & sync

Brett Pearce/CNET

Even with the change, more than 80% of current Google Photos users should still be able to store about three years of content with that free 15GB. Google will notify you in the app and by email once you get close to hitting your 15GB limit. You can also find a personalized estimate for how long your free storage may last, based on how frequently you back up photos and videos to your Google Account. 

In May, Google added a new tool in the Photos app to help you manage the photos and videos you've backed up that count toward your 15GB storage quota. It will surface photos or videos that you might want to delete, like photos that are blurry or screenshots, or videos that are large, to better manage the storage you have.

How to subscribe to Google One

If you're someone who uploads a ton of photos and videos to Google Photos and think you're going to run out of the free space quickly, it may be worth it for you to subscribe to Google One. There are several different plans available (check out our in-depth look at each Google One plan and what it includes here): 

  • 100GB: $2 a month or $20 annually
  • 200GB: $3 a month or $30 annually
  • 2TB: $10 a month or $100 annually

You can sign up on the Google One site. Just make sure you're signed into the Google account you want to use. 

Or, you can check out other photo storage options available

Google One Plan Upgrade when Google Photos Unlimited ends

A lot of Google One's features can be accessed easily through the app.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If I have a Google Pixel phone, are my photos limited too?

If you have a Google Pixel phone, you are exempt from any Google Photos limits. That means you can continue to upload as many photos and videos as you want, with no cap. 

More than 4 trillion photos are stored in Google Photos, the company said in November, with 28 billion new photos and videos uploaded each week. In May, Google unveiled new Photos features including the ability to remove photos from your Memories and new AI-powered techniques to make your photos come alive

For more, check out the best online photo book services of 2021.

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