What happens when free Google Photos storage is no longer free?

    Technology Networks & Storage What happens when free Google Photos storage is no longer free?

    Google Photos has announced it will stop offering free unlimited storage for high-quality photos on June 1, 2021. Photos uploaded after the date will be counted towards the 15GB Drive cap. If the account is inactive or exceed the 15GB limitation for two years, Google may delete the photos after warning. Users will either need to pay for a recurring fee or look for an alternative if they run out of room.

    This change of policy is projected to affect more than 1 billion users worldwide, with many wondering what they ought to do with their existing as well as future photos going forward. Several remedies are available in the market at the moment, such as shifting to other cloud storage services that offer freemium models, or simply upgrading your Google storage plan. Though most of the tier-1 public cloud storage vendors such as OneDrive, Amazon Drive, Dropbox, or iCloud offer some amount of free storage space, none of them exceeds Google’s whopping 15GB storage space which means that, ultimately, it all comes down to upgrading your public cloud storage plan regardless of platform.

    For Google Drive, although there are several paid plans available for upgrade, if we consider that 256GB seems to be the base storage on SSD-based laptops like the MacBook or smartphones, storing this amount of data on the cloud can cost you around USD 120 per year! The annually accumulated fee could be a considerable expense.

    If you don’t want to manage photos on a public cloud with a recurring subscription fee, another intuitive approach is to go back to the old practice of storing photos and other files on external hard drives. Of course, many of us are aware that this approach has many inconveniences, of managing and centralizing photos and the risk of natural and physical damage. Moreover, external hard drives are vulnerable to other common data loss risks such as viruses and human error. And migrating all photos from a public cloud to multiple external hard drives can be particularly tiresome and tedious.

    If these two alternatives won’t serve your needs in the long run, an an on-premise device or private cloud may be a solution. Network-Attached Storage (NAS), a device with terabytes of storage space connected to a secure home or office network, offers users a higher level data ownership, data protection and recovery features, and comprehensive public cloud level accessibility.

    Here are three compelling reasons why you should consider a NAS:

    1. Data protection & recovery

    Data loss often is due to human error like accidental deletion, hardware failure, or ransomware attack. Countless celebrity photo leak or data loss incidents from different public cloud providers have been reported over the years, making more people aware that the notion of public cloud services being completely safe and secure is just untrue. 

    A NAS solution, on the other hand, is ideal because several NAS providers like Synology have a complete backup applications ecosystem that helps users deploy all-around photo backup and data protection. By seamlessly integrating the backup solutions with a NAS device, users can achieve various photo protection strategies without fear of photos being lost or damaged.

    If you have more than 15GB photos to secure, a NAS may be a solution.

    2. Low total cost of ownership

    Let’s put things into perspective. With 2TB storage space as a benchmark, if a user is determined to pay for 2TB Google Drive storage space for USD 120 a year to save and maintain the integrity of his or her photo gallery, the total cost of ownership accumulated will grow to USD 600 in 5 years—quite a significant expense for many people going forward. 

    NAS, on the other hand, only requires initial hardware cost. A 2-bay NAS device plus two 2TB NAS drives for RAID purposes will only require a one-time cost of around USD 450, offering savings on the running cost of using public cloud services. Also, a NAS device usually comes with 2 to 5 years of warranty. Thus, NAS is an obvious choice when it comes to economic value.

    Considering the total cost, a start-up 2-bay NAS is ideal for new NAS users.

    3. Comprehensive photo management appliance

    Some NAS vendors even provide mobile apps and photo management features like Google Photos to not only help users to manage photo storage, as well as share and access portfolios on the go, but also to deliver a modern browsing and uploading experience. Taking it up a notch, a handful of NAS devices have built-in image recognition with a deep learning algorithm that assists users for organizing photos according to similar topics and categories.

    A scalable and efficient NAS storage device can be viewed as an all-in-one photo management solution. Users no longer need to worry whether public cloud vendors will start charging or increasing their subscription fees so photos or data need to be migrated elsewhere. Nor do users have to worry about photo management issues such as data loss or scattered photos, as well as the recurring fee that could turn out to be more significant than it first seems in the long run.

    With all the benefits mentioned above, NAS vendors such as Synology have now designed their OS to be very intuitive and easy to use, just like operating a PC. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the free storage myth and build your own cloud storage with a NAS!

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