The days of unlimited storage for Google Photos and Google Docs are coming to an end. Starting June 1, 2021, the apps will count any new media you save toward the storage limit on your Google account, which starts at 15GB for free users. “Also starting June 1, any new Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms or Jamboard file will begin counting toward your free 15GB of allotted storage or any additional storage provided through Google One,” the company adds in today’s announcement.
Previously, you could back up as much media as you wanted on Google Photos—so long as the photos were limited to 16 megapixels and the videos to 1080p (which Google classifies as its “High quality” tier). The company also offered unlimited storage for Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, its online office suite. But it’s now preparing to pull the unlimited storage perk.
“This change also allows us to keep pace with the growing demand for storage,” Google Photos Vice President Shimrit Ben-Yair wrote in a Wednesday blog post. According to Google, more than 4.3 million GBs are added across Gmail, Drive, and Photos every day.
The storage limit on a Google account (Credit: Google)
The upcoming change is poised to annoy millions of internet users, but for Google it represents a chance to drive potential customers to its paid cloud storage service, Google One, which can expand an account’s storage limits, starting at 100GB for $1.99 a month or $19.99 per year.
Fortunately, any new files you save today until June 1, 2021, won’t count toward the storage limit. So you still have six months of unlimited backups. Google is also estimating most users will have plenty of space even after the new policy arrives—but only for a while. “Once this change does take effect on June 1, 2021, over 80 percent of you should still be able to store roughly three more years worth of memories with your free 15GB of storage,” Ben-Yair said. “As your storage nears 15GB, we will notify you in the app and follow up by email.”
If you fail to follow the rules, Google says it may choose to delete user accounts that’ve been over their storage limits for two years. The same will apply to user accounts that’ve been inactive for 24 months.
“We will notify you multiple times before we attempt to remove any content so you have ample opportunities to take action,” the company added. “The simplest way to keep your account active is to periodically visit Gmail, Drive, or Photos on the web or mobile, while signed in and connected to the internet.”
To help you manage your storage, the company has a tool to find out how much space you have left in your Google account and when it’ll run out. Another tool can help you clear files in bulk.