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Google Photos cloud storage review

A terrific photo backup tool with neat AI features

Google Photos logo
(Image: © Google)

Our Verdict

Despite the loss of its unlimited free photo storage option, Google Photos is still a compelling choice for its ease of use, clever AI enhancements, and attractive interface.


  • Intuitive interface
  • Good facial recognition


  • No more unlimited photo storage
  • Relatively basic photo editing tools

Google Photos (opens in new tab) is an online photo storage application for backing up your precious photos and videos. Until June 2021, the service offered unlimited free storage of photos up to 16MP and videos up to 1080p resolution, but this has now been replaced with a 15GB limit on its free tier.

In our Google Photos (opens in new tab) review, we revisit the service to see whether this more limited version can still be considered one of the best cloud storage (opens in new tab) solutions, the best cloud storage for photos (opens in new tab), and one of the best photo storage apps (opens in new tab).

Google Photos: Plans and pricing

Google One's pricing plans for cloud storage

If you go over the free 15GB limit, you can pay a subscription fee for more space  (Image credit: Google Photos)

Google Photos is free, but you only get 15GB of storage, which is shared between Google Drive (opens in new tab), Photos, and Gmail. If you want more space, there are three paid plans (opens in new tab) via Google One. These can be paid monthly, but you get two months free each year if you pay annually.

In the US, 100GB of storage costs $1.99 a month, 200GB costs $2.99 a month, and 2TB costs $9.99 a month. This pricing is in line with competitors like Microsoft OneDrive (opens in new tab) and Apple One, but significantly cheaper options like IDrive (opens in new tab) and Backblaze (opens in new tab) do exist.

Google Photos: Features

Google Photos' webpage showing its movie creation tool

One utility can generate 30-second movies from select photos in your media library  (Image credit: Google Photos)

Google Photos is a relatively straightforward cloud storage solution for photos and home videos. You can manually upload media to the cloud storage from your computer, or automatically upload from your mobile devices using the Google Photos iOS and Android apps.

In the Utilities menu, you’ll find a few tools for organizing and working with your media. The AI can even create a themed movie if you select a theme and a subject. Or, you can stitch together multiple photos into an animation or a collage. 

These are all super easy to use, but there are almost no customization options, so you’ll need to be happy with the design choices that the AI makes for you.

Google Photos' link sharing pop-up window

You can easily create shared albums visible only to people who have the specific link (Image credit: Google Photos)

There are a few ways to share media with Google Photos. You can generate a link to an album or photo, so anyone with the URL can view and comment on it. You can also share content with specific groups of users, and you can post content to Twitter or Facebook. Another option is Partner Sharing, which shares all your content with another user. 

In the Google Photos interface, you can view all the shares that you’ve created in one location, making it easy to keep track of them.

Google Photos' filter options and display

You can apply filters to your images in the Google Photos editor  (Image credit: Google Photos)

The Google Photos app offers a few basic photo editing tools. You can apply filters, adjust light and color, change aspect ratio, crop, and rotate images. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, though. You can’t add text or shapes, for example. 

That said, the enhancement tools can be handy for quickly fixing simple issues with images before sharing them.

Google Photos: Interface and in use

Google Photos' Android app demonstrated in screenshots

The Google Photos Android app has all the same features as the web interface  (Image credit: Google Photos)

Google Photos is available at (opens in new tab) as soon as you have a Google account. You can also download Photos apps for Android and iOS from the Play Store and Apple Store, respectively. Log in with your Google account, and your phone’s photos are ready to back up to the Google Photos servers automatically.

The Google Photos interface on both web and mobile is well thought out and easy to navigate. Anyone who has previously used Google’s products will intuitively understand how to use the software, as it follows familiar Google interface design principles. 

Google Photos: Support

Google Photos' online Help Community webpage

The Google Photos Help Community is a busy forum for getting advice on how to use Google Photos (Image credit: Google Photos)

Google Photos support is fairly hands-off. There’s no live chat, ticket support, or phone support for the product. If you have a query, your only port of call is the Help Center. Questions are answered by Google community managers or, more commonly, a volunteer product expert. On average, you get a reply within two hours, but some questions go unanswered indefinitely.

Alternatives to Google Photos

Cloud storage, compared

• IDrive vs Backblaze (opens in new tab) 

• pCloud vs Dropbox (opens in new tab)

• OneDrive vs Azure (opens in new tab)

• IDrive vs OneDrive (opens in new tab)

• Google Drive vs Dropbox (opens in new tab)

• OneDrive vs Dropbox (opens in new tab)

• Google Drive vs OneDrive (opens in new tab)

Though it’s not as well-known as Google Photos, IDrive is a cloud storage veteran that offers a huge amount of storage for a small price. You can get 5TB of storage for an entire year for just $7.95. Subsequent years cost $79.50, but that’s still half the price of Google Photos for over double the storage.

If you’d prefer unlimited storage of photos, Backblaze is a top choice. Starting at $5 a month, you can store as many photos as you like. But while Google Photos works with all your devices, Backblaze only allows you to back up files from one device.

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IDrive: get the best cloud storage for only $3.98 (opens in new tab)
IDrive provides large storage amounts for highly-competitive prices, support for unlimited devices, and an extensive file versioning system, making it the best cloud storage provider available. For a limited time, get 10TB of storage for only $3.98 for the first year! (opens in new tab)

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Get Backblaze for free with every ExpressVPN purchase (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN (opens in new tab), the best VPN service (opens in new tab) as rated by IT Pro Portal, is offering free unlimited cloud backup courtesy of Backblaze (opens in new tab) for a whole year with its annual subscription. Secure, business-grade online backup for everyone, no strings attached.

Google Photos: Final verdict

For the safe storage of your photos and videos, you can’t do much better than the biggest name in the industry. Google Photos is superbly easy to use, offers a free plan with 15GB of storage, and has a few nice AI features that automatically organize your media. It definitely ranks among the best cloud storage for photos (opens in new tab).

That said, it’s far from the cheapest option out there, particularly if you have a large library of media to back up. Although it has basic image editing features, competitors like Flickr offer more advanced tools. Overall, if you currently use the Google product ecosystem, using Google Photos for your cloud media storage is a great fit.

Further reading on cloud storage

Looking for cloud storage that's not necessarily expensive, aimed specifically at businesses, or just more secure than anything else available? Check out our guides to the best cloud storage for business (opens in new tab), the best free cloud storage (opens in new tab), the best secure cloud storage (opens in new tab), and the best encrypted cloud storage (opens in new tab).

The Verdict

out of 5

Google Photos cloud storage review

Despite the loss of its unlimited free photo storage option, Google Photos is still a compelling choice for its ease of use, clever AI enhancements, and attractive interface.

Richard brings over 20 years of website development, SEO, and marketing to the table. A graduate in Computer Science, Richard has lectured in Java programming, and has built software for companies including Samsung and ASDA. Now, he writes for TechRadar, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, and Creative Bloq.