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Free no more – Google has started charging to store photos so what are your options?


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On Tuesday, Google started charging for Google Photos. For years, it had been free for unlimited storage. Hundreds of thousands of Irish people relied on it as a handy way of freeing up their phone’s limited storage.

So what can you do now? Is it advisable to stick with Google Photos as an affordable option? Are there any free alternatives? And how should you generally go about sorting out the never-ending photo pile-up on your phone?

What happens now with Google Photos?

Google switched its ‘free and unlimited’ promise on Google Photos to ‘free up until 15GB’.

But that 15GB is for your overall ‘Google account’, to also include things like attachments in Gmail.

If or when you reach that 15GB limit (you may already be at it), then you’ll need to pay (from €2 to €50 per month) to upload and store extra photos or videos.

But you won’t have to pay for the ones that were already up there when the new pay system started on June 1, no matter how many you have up there.

Is there a free alternative?

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For a minority of us, yes. Amazon Photos is ‘free’ for subscribers to Amazon Prime (the delivery service, not the online movie platform).

Given that there are several hundred thousand Prime subscribers in Ireland, this will probably be attractive to many.

But it only includes photos: if you want to upload videos, you have to pay the standard non-subscriber monthly fee (between €1.75 and €18.50 per month, depending on capacity required).

There is one other tiny ‘free’ option: Google Photos will remain free for those with a Google Pixel phone (although that is likely no more than a few thousand people in Ireland).

What are the other options?

For a modest user, iCloud (€1 for 50GB or €3 for 200GB) or Google Photos (€2 for 100GB or €3 for 200GB) are probably the best options, although bear in mind they can include things other than photos.

Otherwise, this is how they stack up:

1. Amazon Photos

Price: free and unlimited for Amazon Prime subscribers; free up to 5GB for non-Prime subscribers, then monthly fees of €1.73 (100GB), €9.30 (1TB) or €18.60 (2TB)

2. iCloud

Price: free up to 5GB, then monthly fees of 99 cents (50GB), €2.99 (200GB) or €9.99 (2TB).

3. Flickr

Price: first 1,000 photos free; then monthly fees of €7.49 for unlimited storage

4. Dropbox

Price: free up to 2GB then monthly fees of €9.99 (2TB) or €16.99 (‘family’ account of 2TB for up to six users)

5. Google Photos

Price: free up to 15GB, then monthly fees of €2 (100GB), €3 (200GB), €10 (2TB) or €50 (10TB)

If I want to delete photos, what’s the best way?

Don’t do it all at once. Sit down for 30 minutes every week. Delete as many photos as you can within that time.

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