Google Photos "High Quality" Photos and Videos to Count Towards Storage Quota

From Google:

Starting June 1, 2021, all new photos and videos backed up in High quality will count toward the free 15 GB of storage that comes with your Google Account or any additional storage you may have purchased, the same way other Google services like Google Drive and Gmail already do.

All photos and videos you back up in High quality before June 1, 2021 are exempt from this change and will not count toward your Google Account storage. This includes all of your existing content uploaded in High quality.

This was such a real life changing feature being removed.

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  • +8

    Google is a for profit company… you look at youtube, where it is now vs a few years back… pushing you with more ads and subscriptions. They all play a long "bait and switch" game.

    • +6

      It sucks because this bait and switch really has me by the balls. I use Google Photos to instantly back up for life and work everyday.

      • +1

        SAME! This is horrible news :(

      • +2

        yeah - there's no free lunch…

      • +2

        Same, seems obvious in retrospect that was the plan.

  • +6

    Any good free alternatives?

  • +3

    "If you have a Pixel 1-5, photos uploaded from that device won’t be impacted. Photos and videos uploaded in High quality from that device will continue to be exempt from this change, even after June 1, 2021. "

    • Great success!

    • +2

      Is there some way to spoof that photos are taken by a Pixel?

      • -1


      • +1

        Haha, good idea. I know someone's replied with a "no" already, but I suspect if there isn't a way now, such a change only accelerates demand for such a function. I'd assume you might see a couple of guys over on XDA try to do something.. and I suspect it would require rooting a device. Let's see if they come up with something before June 2021 LOL

        edit: So as I suspected, it's been tried, and it worked before, but it's been patched. Doesn't mean there won't be another way, but as far as I can see, there is currently no way to do it

      • You can't spoof it however if you move them onto the pixel then upload it is fine. If you can buy a pixel one you could essentially backup anything at original quality

        • doesn't the free only apply to HQ photos taken on the Pixel or something?

          • @capslock janitor: Nope. Only uploaded from pixel phone. I can confirm because I transfer JPEGs from my camera to my pixel 5 and it uploads at whatever the new equivalent of high quality is for free

  • +4

    Hassle yes, but it's within their right to do so (I would imagine) and they've given sufficient notification of the change.

    It's not uncommon for the 'first' one of something to be free, and then you'll need to pay for the subsequent purchases. In this case, we had YEARS of free service.

    OP - appreciate the notification though :) It is a shame that it's being removed though.

  • similar to photobuckets change.. ?

  • We've had our photos and videos in iCloud for years paying $14.99/month for 2TB :( and I had been meaning to transfer to Google Photos. Looks like we'll be staying with iCloud now - thanks for the heads up OP.

    • You're still paying more then Google at $12.50pm for 2tb on Google one, but obviously that's not the only factor

      Google won't be free anymore but it won't be mad expensive suddenly either

      • iCloud/Apple ecosys is way too closeminded, rather Google indeed.

  • I just got the email too. Was great while it lasted :) I wonder if I could use the express backup size and use Google Photos as just a quick index of my photos, so I know where to look on my NAS for the original size backup.

  • Not for iPhone users if they store in full quality “high efficiency “ codecs

  • Damn man.
    Now what to do next.

  • I have two 2tb hdd's and a caddy. Every month I make a full backup (mainly family digital photos of last 20 years) and take the hdd to my workplace for off-site storage. I bring the other hdd home - rinse and repeat.

    It's not that time consuming.

    • +10

      It's incredibly time consuming compared to "Upload automatically at High Quality".

      I keep physical backups of all my photos and videos as well, but there's a definite convenience to having all your photos from years/decades available instantly on your phone.

    • Doesn't help you backing up photos while you're out and about.

      • +6

        yep, also doesn't help if you lost the phone or it suddenly broken a day before your scheduled backup to HDD

  • +8

    We use google one, 2TB paid subscription. Yes, its about $100/year (google survey rewards provides about $30/year to offset some cost as its about $130/year paid yearly in advance), but knowing that I dont have to think about backups from phones/etc is worth its weight in gold. Plus, its actual files - not compressed quality.

    Our process:
    1. Phone photos backup to google photos automatically over wifi.
    2. Our HTPC syncs a copy onto a hdd automatically.
    3. Any DSLR/Compact Camera photos get automatically uploaded to google one once dumped off the device onto the HTPC.

    In the event google one or the hdd goes to shit - its a lot easier to remedy, and that $100/year will have paid for itself by incurring no stress to restore.

    • +1

      I just hope in time that they increase the storage size or add higher tiers. I'd happily pay a nominal fee for the unlimited "High Quality" capability again

    • Any issues using the family settings for google one?
      does it just give them storage within the subscribers 'pool'?

      • Yep. Linked Mrs to it, she has access to 2tb pool, but has her own Google photos/drive that utilises it.

    • The problem with this idea is that as time goes on, your monthly costs increase because you aren't deleting old photos/videos, and phone photos/videos are huge now with 108mp and 8k video.

      Its basically the Apple model, put out a set of plans and update them slower then technology so you are forced to pay more and more because you are locked in.

      • Correct. But NAS/Raid setups cost money to establish and maintain. Plus security of off-site backup incase of house fire/electrical short/water ingress.

        Ultimately, its at the decision of the individual as to what value they place on various options for backing up their data.

        At <2TB, I feel like google's offering provides good value for most users. >2TB, I would probably investigate a RAID/NAS setup to have redundancy as the jump in Google is too large for me - going from 2TB to 10TB is astronomical and couldnt justify $750/year to have 10tb of storage available when might be using 3TB/4TB, etc, and perhaps maintain critical files on a cloud system/etc.

        • Yes, but I guess what I'm saying is that everyone is going to use more then 2TB eventually if they like to take photos/Video on their modern phone.

          My plan is to store locally and just find a reasonable way to backup using a more basic backup service.

  • +2

    This really sucks. I hate when companies put out an offer and then change it significantly. Worse was flickr back in the day; unlimited uploads forever! Just kidding, we're deleting everything.

    Also google calls "high quality" their low quality offering and "original quality" their high quality………………………

    • +3

      Personally, I feel this guy's reaction was quite "balanced"

      In all honesty, not familiar with the flickr incident, but I feel this is not badly managed/communicated:

      • They're giving us 7 months notice
      • Any photos uploaded between now and then still do not get counted towards the quota
      • They've been offering this unlimited storage since 2015 (by June 2021, that'll be 6 years)

      Don't get me wrong. I'm a consumer who's been very reliant on this feature and I've even promoted to friends/family as one of those "must haves". It's not good for me either, but I can't say I expected this to last forever (beyond thinking that "yea, it's Google, of course they want our data for free"), and I can't reasonably say this feels badly communicated/dealt with, as much as this sucks for me. I've seen companies pull much worse.

      Also google calls "high quality" their low quality offering and "original quality" their high quality………………………

      Fully agree with your sentiment here. I recall when setting it up for the first time, I had to read the "fine print" pretty carefully to know which one was unlimited/lower quality.

      • I agree that Google is generous and I have myself wondered for years how they can possibly store so much stuff for free.

        But…. I still wish they had given a slight communication years earlier that this entire service would be significantly changing eventually and was on an unsustainable path..

        I've seen companies pull much worse.

        True. ie. flickr who DELETED everything after saying they would store unlimited for free forever. F*** flickr and F*** marissa meyer.

        In the end I like google and this is somewhat expected, I suppose.

    • Also google calls "high quality" their low quality offering and "original quality" their high quality

      You might call it that, but Google certainly does not.

  • any alternatives we should be looking at?

    • Possibly amazon prime photo storage. Unlimited photo storage but 5gb of video storage. $60/year and get prime video and delivery. I wouldn't be surprised if they jack up the price.

      Otherwise, you could set up plex photo back up but this is local to your network.

  • +1

    You can use Google Takeout to export all your data/photos.

    • Good idea - but I'd wanna know where to move them to now lol. I've been so reliant on this and I actually can't think of a viable/practical alternative.

      WE NEED COMPETITION!! @Microsoft @Amazon @Tesla @Apple

        • Thanks for sharing! So I looked into it a bit and found this

          and then I saw this..

          If you don't live in either the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, or Japan, you can stop reading now.

          .. so I stopped. damn

          edit: Ok I lied, I didn't stop. But reading on did not provide any positive news, so that's the end of that I guess!

    • +1

      Just found a guide on how to use Google Takeout

  • +2

    Apart from the convenience of automatic backup, I find the search function so useful - so many times I've been able to find photos from a particular event that's being discussed, in just a few seconds by searching by people, location, object names, etc. So any alternative I use would need to have that, and I have a feeling I'll be paying either way. :-(

  • +12

    I think they only gave us free storage, because they needed access to a huge pool of photos to improve their AI. Now when their AI is the best (gPhotos app is unbeatable and it is scary how well their AI recognizes the same person in different ages on different photos.)

    • +1

      It even recognises my dog which shows up as a fluffy vanta black silhouette in just about every photo, very impressive.

    • +2

      Yep. If one doesn't pay for the product, they are the product. We have outlived our usefulness.

      Not literally I hope. Oh no.

    • Yep. I won't be giving it up because of the AI. It's so damn good. happy to pay for it.

  • Bugger.

    I mean, I don't like to rely on cloud services because you never know when they'll take it away (or it goes wrong) but it was great to have as a backup, and the search feature is second to none.

    Guess I'll have to be more selective about what I leave on there in future.

  • anyone with Synology nas know the most automated, efficient and fastest way to upload photos from NAS to this google drive? im thinking to upload all mines before June 1, 2021

  • +1

    Is there a reason why we feel they should have to provide this service for free forever??

    • +1

      as per your username.

  • Excludes pixel 1-5 devices.
    Pixel devices will continue to get unlimited storage.

    • +4

      We've literally been sitting her waiting for your comment to find out your Google photo storage usage :/

    • +2

      lmao, very informative thank you for your input

      • To be more specific, I don't want Google having access to my photos. While I can understand the appeal of it, for me, my privacy concerns outweigh the benefits of using it.

  • I'm based in Mumbai but living in Australia due to reasons, how would I go about getting Google One on top of my existing Indian Google Family / YouTube Premium sub without having to pay Australia tax on the family account? ;)

    • wondering the same thing, did you get anywhere? :)

      • It "looks" like I can add Australian Google One membership to my Mumbai family account which is ok with me since I end up with enough unused rewards credit to pay for it, however, I'm not going to push the button on it until I actually have to just in case it messes up the family account.

    • Pay in rupees?

  • I guess Upload to facebook and put the album private…again it is manual work :(

  • Hi guys. Help please.
    I have lots photo in different folders on synology nas.

    installed Google Backup and Sync on PC and then point it to the relevant folder on the Synology, click backup. Done.

    at the moment it is sending the photos to google drive from my synology.
    is this correct/normal? (i thought i can straight upload photos to google photos…)

    and then, we suppose to go to google photos, and choose upload from google drive - > is this also correct ?
    i tried but weird is i cannot select to upload folder, only can select single or multiple photos. what should i do ? create new folder in google photo then upload individual photos ?

    Problem is i have over 200 folders so this is not an efficient way i think? Or I have done something wrong?

  • Anyone switching themselves to India or Turkey to try and get a cheaper google one storage plan, and then able to use that for google photos?

  • Pity Australian Prime members don't get unlimited photo storage like US accounts.

    Yandex Disk gives unlimited photo storage if you enable auto-upload apparently (if anyone is game to put their photos on Russian servers)

    • i just realised i got 240GB onedrive (thanks to telstra). almost considering pay google subscription but now no need….. 240GB is plenty enough

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