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Google’s unlimited high-quality photo storage will change from 1 June 2021. Starting then every new photo and video uploaded will count toward the 15 GB of storage that comes with every Google Account.

But it gets worse. Your 15GB now is shared across Drive, Gmail and Photos. On the plus side, Google has reaffirmed its commitment to not using Photo information for advertising purposes. That is why this previously free service will attract storage fees once you have hit 15GB.

As a sweetener, any photos or videos uploaded before the deadline in High Quality will not count toward the 15GB of free storage. But there is a little catch. It does not include photos and videos in original quality. High quality is compressed to a maximum of 16MP and 1080p video – lossy just like MP3 music.

Google’s free unlimited high-quality photo storage

Google estimates that 80% of its free users still have three years of free storage left (based on typical use). That estimate will be available to the user at photos.google.com via a new tool.

We can’t blame Google. Today there are more than four trillion photos, and 28 billion new photos and videos added every week. And its Google Cloud storage is fairly priced.

Alternatives to Google’s unlimited high-quality photo storage

Google Pixel phones don’t have micro-SD slots. Well, Google is exempting Pixel 1-5 owners.

There are lots of public clouds but remember that storage costs money and uploading to a cloud via mobile data in Australia can be expensive unless done over unlimited NBN Wi-Fi at home.

Personal clouds like those from Synology and WD MyCloud may be a better long-term option. Like public clouds, you can remotely upload/download/view your shots on a storage device on your home network. As a benefit, they can also store digital media like movies and music and backup computers on the network.

Personal clouds store terabytes – not gigabytes that can be quickly devoured by 4K videos and high res ‘original’ photos.

Some personal clouds also have Google Photo-like mobile apps and photo management and seamless uploading. The better ones have built-in image recognition and deep learning algorithm that assists users to group photos according to similar topics and categories.

Downsides of a personal cloud. Most use hard disks, and these can have a lifespan of between 5-10 years depending on quality. To counter that you can get a two or four-bay NAS that mirrors each drive.

We have not done a lot of personal cloud NAS reviews – read here.