It may look like Google is telling you to buy 100 GB for $1.99/mo, but what they're actually doing is just offering it to you.
If you choose the High Quality setting, you do get free unlimited storage, you don't need to buy anything.
High Quality means that Google stores up to 16 megapixel photos and 1080p videos with an extra compression to reduce the file size. My cameras all take photos less than 16 megapixels, so this is fine with me and I like the reduced file size.
Your Google Storage Allotment
Google gives everyone 15GB of free storage space. Keep in mind that your Google storage is shared among Gmail, Google Drive, and Original quality Google Photos. You can see how much you are using by going to MyAccount.Google.com and be logged in with your Google account.
You will see sections for privacy, security, and Account storage. In the account storage section, click the link to "Manage storage" and you will see your total allotment as well as the amount being used by Drive, Gmail, and Photos.
I found the culprit by checking my iPhone Google Photos settings. I had uninstalled and reinstalled the program, not noticing that the default size setting had changed to Original. I have now set it back to High Quality, but what about the photos that are already stored at High Quality?
What is Google One? Think phone support.
If you choose to buy 100 GB for $1.99/month, you become a member of Google One. That is simply what Google has chosen to call it when you pay for storage rather than just using the free allotment.
If you become a member of Google One, there are a few other benefits. You get support from Google, even for the free products like Google Photos. Think about that, for $2/month you get phone support. You can talk to a real human being. I've heard reports ranging from "solved my problem quickly" to "totally useless." But, that is the nature of phone support in general, right? I think it's pretty amazing to get phone support for $2/mo.
My Google Photos setting changed to Original
When you become a Google One member, Google apparently assumes you want to use that storage for your photos and the default selection for file size changes from High Quality to Original. It took me a while to realize this. I've always chosen to store my photos in High Quality. I am now paying $2/mo for the Google One membership, but my reason is to have access to phone support. I don't know how long I will continue the membership and I still want my photos to be stored for free with the High Quality setting. My current storage stats show that Google Photos is taking up 2.81 GB.
Recover StorageThere is a button that will review all your stored photos and, retroactively, compress them to High Quality. It's called Recover Storage, and you'll find it on the Google Photos settings on the web version. Here is a video on how to use it.
Billed thru iTunes?When someone showed me an email that iTunes was billing them for Google Photos storage, I thought it was a scam. Google storage would be billed thru Google. Since when was Apple doing Google's collections for them?!? But, apparently it is true. You can sign up for that $2mo 100 GB using your iPhone and your Apple ID.
If you think an email about an iTunes charge may be a scam, here is Apple's help for identifying legitimate emails from them.
Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983. She is now a Product Expert for the Google Photos Forum, owner of the LearnGooglePhotos.com blog, and author of Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos.
She loves to teach! If you want to learn, you’ve come to the right place.