It seems it was a slow news week for several news outlets last week who decided to insinuate that Google was going to make Gmail users pay for storage. This is such an overly reductionist statement that it borders on misleading and is certainly manipulative at best.
The premise of the argument is at least based in (a partial) truth. All Storage on a Google account is linked. Accounts get 15 GB for free (as of today) and that’s it, 15 GB, free. That storage is to cover all of your Google storage needs, Gmail emails and attachments (including sent items), Google Drive, Google Photos original quality images and videos and any phone backups you have using Google One’s enhanced phone backups.
So what’s the problem? 15GB free seems like a reasonable deal? According to the articles, Google is somehow being unfair having not continued to add free storage to their user’s accounts since the last increase in 2004. They do seem to have forgotten the 2 x 2GB lifetime storage upgrade bonus Google offered to any user who completed a Security Check-up in 2015 and 2016 taking some users up to 19GB of free storage, but not everyone would have that.
The authors are also displeased that Google is now only offering 100GB for 1 year with a new Chromebook, not the 2 years that they were previously offering. So, okay, you’re not getting more free stuff. We’re not sure on what grounds people feel they are entitled to all of this free storage, but take it as you will.
The articles also took a swipe at Google Pixel devices no longer supporting unlimited free photo back-ups in original quality. To be clear, Google still offers any user with a Google account free unlimited storage for photos and videos (of supported formats) in a high-quality resolution, free, forever. I have now backed up over 500,000 photos from my NAS plus all of the images I’ve ever taken since Google Photos launched, all secure online, for free.
Now, for the limited number who actually buy Pixel phones, I’m sure some of them feel upset that they’re not getting their unlimited original quality photo backups. But for our money, high-quality backups are more than sufficient, and if you want more than that why should it be free?
So what’s the real beef here? Google One subscriptions. It seems some people feel that Google is somehow not entitled to charge for its storage and is looking to drum up fear, uncertainty and doubt around their subscription plans. What’s interesting is that buying additional Google storage is not something Google has just launched.
Google has offered paid storage, typically at competitive rates to its competitors, since the Google Drive days. We’re talking years.
From what we can tell the only thing that has changed with Google One, compared to Google Drive, is the branding and the additional features included in the Google One program. Additional benefits include hardware giveaways, improved device backups (using your storage), improved Google support, hardware discounts at some levels and occasional giveaways such as Play Store credit, YouTube Premium etc.
Now the one concession we will make is this – it is an issue that once your Google Storage is all used up that your Gmail account simply ceases to work. Email is such an important form of communication that your account just up and stopping isn’t the best idea ever. Google does warn users when this is happening and does offer tips on how best to manage their storage needs, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.
A user’s choices are, delete items out of your Google Drive, Gmail (don’t forget your sent items) or Google Photos or pay for additional storage through Google One. Google does offer Google Takeout that lets you download all of the data in your account before you delete it if that’s the path you choose.
In short, Google has not reduced the free storage offered for Gmail accounts, or any Google product. Google has increased its product offerings and some of those products do use the same shared storage pool as Gmail. Google has rolled back Original Quality Photo storage options for some users. You can signup for as many Gmail/ Google accounts as you want/ need. Google does offer paid storage tiers for those who see value in the combination of Googles products/ services and want additional storage.
If you’re not happy with your 15GB of free storage and unlimited photo storage then please do let us know about a more competitive offer, because we could always do with more free backup options.