Google is ending free unlimited storage for your photos at the beginning of June – here are some tips to help you manage your pictures after then.
If you’re anything like me, your phone is probably full of photos. Even though I live alone and have barely gone more than a couple of miles from my front door for the past year, I still seem to have taken hundreds of photos.
There are photos of my cat, photos of the box of white KitKats a friend sent me to encourage me on to press day, photos of Brompton cemetery, my local green space, photos of things I need to remember – I really enjoy having a decent camera close at hand.
I’m an Android user, so my default photo app is Google Photos, and I always set up a new phone to sync my pictures to the Google Photos cloud service. I use the ‘High quality’ setting, which compresses the photos a bit but which saves on storage space.
Thus far, Google has allowed unlimited uploads of ‘high quality’ photos, not counting it against your overall Google Drive storage, but starting on June 1, photos you take and add to Google Photos will start to count towards your online storage, though the good news is that Google isn’t adding all your existing photos to your quota.
How to prepare for the changes to Google Photos
If you’re on the free tier, you’ve got 15GB. You might find that you haven’t used up all of that yet. You can check how much you’ve already used by going into the Google Photos app and tapping your profile picture or initial in the top right-hand corner. On the screen that pops up, you’ll see how much space you’ve got left.
If you’re close to filling up your free 15GB, you’ll need to make some decisions. First, do you actually want to keep all of your photos? This upcoming weekend might be a good time to wade through all your pictures and think about deleting some of them.
If you don’t want to do that on your phone, you can do it on a computer: go to https://photos.google.com, where all your pictures are available in the browser.
You might want to think about deploying Google’s excellent search tools at this point. For example, you could start by deleting all your screenshots: just type ‘screenshots’ into the search bar and then tick the ones you want to delete.
What are the alternatives?
The next decision to make is whether you want to continue using Google Photos’ cloud storage, or if you might want to switch to another cloud service such as Flickr, Dropbox or Amazon Photos.
I use Amazon Photos: if you already have a Prime account, you also get unlimited storage for full-resolution photos. I have the app installed on my phone and that’s set to back up automatically from my camera roll (beware that videos aren’t included in the unlimited storage and will count against your basic 10GB).
You could also decide that you want to move your photos to a hard disk you have at home. If you move your photos off your phone, make sure you have a second copy of them as a backup.
Or you could decide – as I have done, with some gnashing of teeth – to pay for additional storage via a Google One membership: there are six tiers, starting with £1.59 a month that gets you an additional 100GB.
I rely heavily on Google Photos’ search tools, and I want to continue to be able to search through my archive, so I’ve upgraded to 100GB. I also decided that I wanted access to additional editing tools that come with the Google One membership such as the ‘dynamic’ filter that’s a quick and easy way to perk up an image.
How do you feel about the service being monetised?
There has, understandably, been a lot of complaining about this move by Google: it’s always frustrating when a service you rely on suddenly puts its prices up – or starts charging in the first place.
However, it is arguably reassuring. Google has a long history of killing off products and services that people rely on. From Google Cloud Print to Picasa, more than 150 products have been buried in the Google Cemetery over the years. At least now that Google is monetising Photos, there’s a good chance it will be with us for a while yet.
How are you planning to manage your photos now that Google is limiting your free storage? Let us know in the comments.