If you’re a creative type who takes lots of photos and videos, you need a reliable place to store your files. Enter Google Photos, a simple yet powerful cloud storage service that lets you seamlessly save and share media files across your devices.
But with so many available options for cloud storage, it may seem daunting to choose just one service. What is the best cloud storage for your creative needs? We’ve put together this Google Photos review to help you decide if this product is right for you. (You may also want to see our list of the best Google Photos alternatives).
Google Photos: Plans and pricing
For most of its history, Google Photos has offered unlimited storage space at no charge. From June 1, 2021, though, users only get 15GB of storage for free. Anyone who desires more space will need to purchase a Google One subscription (except for Pixel phone users, who can still enjoy unlimited free storage).
Google One’s paid plans start at $1.99 per month for 100GB of space. For $2.99 per month, you get double the amount of space (200GB). For those who need ample storage, the best-value plan provides 2TB of space for $9.99 a month. You can pay monthly for each plan or save 16–17% by prepaying for your annual subscription.
The paid plans also let you add family members, and they come with additional perks such as access to Google experts and discounts in the Google Store. While the new free plan won’t offer unlimited space, you’ll still get 15GB, which is more than some competitors offer (Apple iCloud only allows 5GB of free space).
Google Photos is easy to use even for beginners, and casual users may not need to pay for the service. Students and professionals may want to upgrade their storage, but the plans are affordable.
Google Photos review: Features
Google Photos offers more than just storage space for your media; it also organises your photos and videos, syncs your files across multiple devices, and makes social sharing simple. Let’s take a closer look at these essential features.
Smart organisation of files
Google Photos automatically organises files by date and location so it’s easy to browse your collections. The software also uses sophisticated object and face recognition to group photos and videos into albums.
Of course, you can still manually create albums and collections. But you won’t have to spend time sorting through your media because it’s all done for you. All you have to worry about is capturing photos and videos – Google Photos will handle the rest.
And if you ever need to locate old files, simply open the phone or browser app and scroll to the desired date. You can also click on albums to view the media there (although the actual files are stored elsewhere, so you can add and delete photos from albums as needed).
A good cloud storage service should be able to rapidly sync files between multiple devices. Although competitors like Dropbox, iCloud, and OneDrive offer file-syncing apps, the Google Photos app is easy to use, runs smoothly, and is compatible with Android and iPhone.
When you’re out snapping photos and videos on your phone, Google Photos will immediately back up your files to the cloud. Uploading is usually quick for small- to mid-sized files, and once it’s done, you can view or edit your work from your computer or tablet.
The only caveat is that if you’re working with a high-resolution camera, your full-res images will quickly eat up your free drive space. You may want to create compressed versions of the files to store on Google Drive and keep the originals elsewhere, especially if you don’t want to pay for extra storage.
Easy social sharing
Google Photos makes it easy to share media with others. You can select which files you’ll share and who you’ll share them with while keeping the rest private. People you’ve shared with can “like” and comment on your photos and videos.
For team projects, the sharing and commenting features enable you to exchange feedback with peers. You can also opt to receive notifications anytime someone leaves a new comment on one of your photos so you can keep up with the conversation.
Those who use Google Photos will also have access to a great range of editing tools. Although these aren’t advanced or even very complicated, they enable you to adjust various colour settings, crop and/or rotate your media, and add any of a range of filters. And the best thing is that these tools are easily accessible every time you click on a photo.
Google Photos review: Interface
With its clean, uncluttered design and intuitive navigation, Google Photos is accessible for novice and advanced users alike. Whether you’re using a desktop browser or the mobile app, the interface looks and feels almost the same, so you can transition seamlessly between the two.
To set up Google Photos, simply log in with your Google username at photos.google.com (opens in new tab). You’ll start out with 15GB of free storage, but you can choose a Google One (opens in new tab) storage plan if you want to buy extra space. If you don’t already have the app on your smartphone, you may want to download it. The whole setup process should only take 5–10 minutes.
Google Photos review: Security
In general, the Google network is extremely secure, and Google Photos is no exception. Since it uses cloud storage from the tech giant’s native infrastructure, you can rest assured that your files will be safe and highly secure at all times.
One of the best things about Google Photos is that your photos and videos are automatically set as private when you upload them. You can share them or tag other people in them to make them somewhat public, but that’s about all.
Google Photos review: Support
If you’re using the free version of Google Photos, their Help Center has articles on getting started, managing photos and videos, backing up files, troubleshooting, and more. You can also access the Community forums, where users can ask and answer questions of each other.
Paid Google One members can contact Google experts via live chat, email, or phone for more in-depth guidance. Members in the US, UK, and Canada with 2TB and higher storage plans also have access to Pro Sessions where they can learn how to get the most out of Google products.
Google Photos: Should you use it?
Google Photos certainly has a reputation as a giant in the media cloud storage industry, and it’s well deserved. There’s very little not to like about the platform and the service it offers, especially if you’re not looking for advanced editing or compilation tools. The only downside is the slightly limited video and photo upload quality that comes with a free plan, but this shouldn’t worry anyone other than high-level professionals.
At the end of the day, we’d highly recommend playing around with Google Photos. Its free plan is very powerful, its paid plans are affordable, and overall, it’s a great all-round option for reliable cloud storage.
- Still not sure? Read our Google Photos vs Amazon Photos comparison