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Google Photos: Understanding Big Changes (June 2021)

Google has had several significant updates to their photo services in recent years. Here’s what you need to know, including the latest changes that went into effect on June 1, 2021.

It’s no longer free.

That is, unless you have a Google Pixel phone. The photos and videos you already have stored in Google Photos can stay without a charge, but future uploads will require a paid plan (for storage beyond 15 GB).

The paid plan is now called Google One.

This includes Google Drive, Google Photos, and Gmail and was formerly called Google Drive Storage. Your Google One storage can be shared with up to five additional family members. Here is the price breakdown:

  • 15 GB: Free
  • 100 GB: $1.99 / month
  • 200 GB: $2.99 / month
  • 2 TB: $9.99 / month

Why I Don't Recommend It (and I Stopped Using It)

I loved Google Photos and was a BIG fan…that is until I learned about some updates to their privacy policy and they changed some key features. Now, not so much.

  • The Privacy Policy basically states that they can use your photos for any purpose, at any time, even AFTER you’ve terminated service. That’s not cool. Remember, digital photo storage is always going to cost you something – time, money, or your personal information. Make sure you understand your options and the cost.  
  • It’s a bear to get your photos OUT of Google Photos. The whole point of a backup system is so that you can retrieve your photos if needed – all of them. If you try to download your entire photo library, you get hundreds of zip folders with your photos and a bunch of junk files. Any organization or folders you had created are lost and it’s very complicated. (With Amazon Photos, it’s a single click to retrieve your whole photo library and your organization stays in tact.) To remove your images from Google Photos, you’ll need to request a TakeOut. Learn more about the process.


Is there another option?

Yes! My number one recommendation is Amazon Photos, which is free for Prime members and includes unlimited, full-resolution photo storage. 5GB of video storage is included or you can upgrade to 100GB for about $20 / year, which is the most affordable storage option out there.

You can get my free Get-Started Guide to Amazon Photos when you subscribe to my (monthly-ish) email newsletter.

More questions? I offer one-on-one coaching when you book a Digital Consult! We can even screen share so I can better assist you with your specific needs and I promise no question is dumb!

I’d love to help you organize your photos and design a backup system that will work for you. Get started on Operation Photo Files today.

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Hi, I'm Lisa

Photos have always brought me joy and are one of my favorite mediums for storytelling. But let’s be honest, the sheer volume of digital photos we all have can be overwhelming. It’s my goal through Scissortail Digital to help you enjoy, use, and organize your photos so you can go from jumbled to joyful!

Learn more…

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