Why the New Google Photo Policy Might Make You Rethink Your Cloud Storage Situation


A recent change in the high-quality photo unlimited storage policy of Google Photos has users scrambling to figure out what to do about photo and video storage. On June 1, 2021, the service ended its unlimited storage policy. Any high-quality photos or videos uploaded as of June 1st will count against the storage limitations for a user’s Google account, which for free accounts is 15 GB.

Both individuals and small businesses use free cloud services to avoid paying high costs for things like photo or file storage. This is especially true when it comes to large file types like photos and videos. The higher the resolution capability of the cameras on smartphones, the more space is needed to store all those images. Phone drive space can get filled up quickly, which is why many use cloud storage for their images. But with Google changing its long-held policy, it’s been a wake-up call that when you rely on a third-party vendor for your storage, especially if you’re on a free account, you have no control over changes it might make to its policies.

What Are the Details of the Google Photos Policy Change?

Here are the key points that users need to know about this policy change.

Existing Photos/Videos Won’t Be Deleted

Google’s policy grandfathers in any existing high-resolution files you have stored in Google Photos. So, anything stored there before June 1, 2021, will not count towards your storage limit, and won’t be deleted, per the policy.

Any Photos/Videos Uploaded After 6/1/2021 Will Count Towards the Storage Limit

Each Google account has a specific storage limit. This is 15 GB for a free account, or more if you have a paid Google One account. Previously, Google Photos high-res file uploads were exempt from the storage limit, meaning users could back up their phones and didn’t have to worry about running out of space. Now, they’re included along with all the files that count towards the account’s storage limit. These include, but aren’t limited to, files in:

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Docs
  • Sheets
  • Slides
  • Google Photos

Pixel 1-5 Users Are Exempt

If you own Google’s Pixel smartphone, you can still upload as many photos and videos as you like from your phone. Google has exempted uploads from Pixel 1-5 devices.

Google Has Added a Free Tool That Makes Deletion Easier

A free tool in the Google Photos app makes it easier for users to delete any unwanted images that may have uploaded from their phone, but they don’t really need to keep. Deleting unwanted shots can free up some of the storage space.

Reasons to Revisit Your Cloud Storage 

This major policy change by Google is a wake-up call that it’s a good time to revisit how your business is storing photos and other files. Do you have files spread out over multiple services? Are you relying on free services? Do you only keep copies in one place? File loss can be devastating, and just about everyone has experienced it at some time or another. Here are some things to consider when planning a smart cloud storage strategy.

Consider Public Cloud vs Private Cloud

As Google Photos users just found out, when you’re relying on a 3rd party cloud provider, they can change the rules at any time. You can be left scrambling to adjust or possibly lose files if a data retention policy has changed. For example, another recent change Google made was to its Gmail retention policies for items in the Trash folder. Users used to be able to keep email indefinitely until the Trash was emptied. Then, beginning 10/13/2020, Google changed that and began deleting items in the Trash folder after 30 days. When you use a private cloud solution, you retain control over the cloud environment and aren’t at the mercy of a service provider. There is a bit more work involved on your part, but the upside is complete control over your files.

Companies Need Both Back-Up & Cloud Storage

Cloud storage in applications like OneDrive or Google Drive is not the same as a file backup. Backups can’t be edited and aren’t “live” files like those in cloud storage platforms are. It’s important that your files be stored in more than one place, so ideally a business has both a backup of all their data as well as a copy of their files in a reliable cloud storage platform.

It’s Important to Consolidate, Even If You Have to Pay a Storage Fee

Free cloud storage is great for saving money, but if you run out of space and have to use another free service, then trying to find files can be time-consuming. You can also end up with files that have different security policies. It’s better to pay a low price for cloud storage on a single platform. The time and efficiency savings will outweigh the costs, which can start at just $1.99/month on Google One. Alternatively, you may find that using a service like Microsoft 365, which comes with 1TB of storage per user, is a better way to handle cloud storage because it’s incorporated with your other productivity tools.

Get Help With a Smart Cloud Storage & Backup Strategy

Copperband Technologies can help your southern Kentucky or Middle Tennessee business protect your files and put streamlined cloud storage and backup in place. Contact us today to schedule a consultation! Call 931.263.8000 or email us.