Google Photos: I am Grateful for the Past Six Years

Google photos

Google Photos has been my photo backup solution since 2015. However, they announced that their free backup service would end on June 2021. To my surprise this is quite some news. Many people started hating the service because they have fully invested their photos and videos on this free service. They even started looking elsewhere and going to jump ship to another service. I hate to admit, but I almost did the same thing. Nevertheless, I decided to stay with Google Photos and their superb services. Here’s why:

Security & Privacy

I know that Google is a behemoth when it comes to collecting its user’s data for targeted ads. They have recently started showing this banner within my Gmail, Google Account management, and as well as in Google Photos. Google says that they don’t sell my data, I believe them. I think it is a relationship built by trust. I have been using Google services for quite some time already. Furthermore, I have experienced the worst with spam emails and other attempts to steal my information or data. Just three days ago, I have seen how many spam emails I already have. Seriously, without Google’s AI to filter my spam emails and tell me which are at risk and may be harmful to me, I might have access to phishing emails already.

My relationship with Google is built on trust

So, when Google says, my data is private, I trust them. Of course, not to trust the company blindly, but I have done my homework. Years ago, when I have learned that Google tracks its users and collects our data “to improve” our experience, I have learned to like it. When there is a new coffee shop around the area, Google Maps gives me suggestions. When there is a new book that I would consider reading, Google recommends me from the same authors I follow. My Google feed is filled with stuff that I am fully interested.

When it comes to my photos and videos, I knew I could trust them. When they say, I have control over whichever data I could share with them, I trust them. Why? Because it is Google. Besides, I know I am not a politician or even an influencer. Even if Google would steal my data without my consent, I am pretty sure nobody would take so much interest on a small fry compared to other people whose life is on the line. Don’t get me wrong, as a Digital Minimalist, I am very much concerned about my security and privacy. It’s just me trusting a company that allowed me to use their “free services” for years.

The Cost of switching is higher

Photo taken from Corporate Finance Institute
Photo taken from Corporate Finance Institute

When some of my friends are comfortably using iCloud Photos for a long time, I took some time to consider switching to it. It is very tempting when I am inside the Apple Ecosystem as well. However, I did a 30-day experiment migrating all my files from Google Drive to iCloud Drive. Tipping my toes on the epic songs of Apple Music, integrated with a very convenient voice assistant — Siri. After Google made the announcement that their free service for Google photos will only last until June 2021, I admit that I felt disappointed. Yet, I still decided to use the service because the cost of switching to another backup solution is higher than actually paying Google One (to which I have been a subscriber for quite some years already).

Time Cost

I have a Microsoft 365 subscription which I can confidently store all of my photos and videos since I have a terabyte of data available there. I have a 100 GB in my iCloud photos due to family sharing with my by my brother. Not only that, but I tried using Google Takeout to download all my photos and considered uploading to iCloud Drive or OneDrive. However, I realized that it took me around 4 days before Google could send me the email because I have more than 50,000 photos and videos in total. I know that uploading would also take quite some time.

Occasionally, the time cost of moving data is much more taxing rather than staying with a service that already works.

Money Cost

I have been paying Google One subscription for about 4 years now and personally, I have learned to love the Google Suite of apps. Google Drive is still, by far, the fastest and most reliable cloud storage solution I have ever tried. Not to mention that it is also the easiest platform to share something through collaboration or even sharing large files.

I have been practicing digital minimalism in my life for the past two years and I could understand why most people tend to rely on Google’s services compared to others. My desire to streamline everything led me to an understanding that Google can do that for me. Since I have been using Google services for quite some time, I find it difficult to diverse them into various platforms if I am on my journey to reducing my digital tools that can optimize my life.

Energy Cost

Nonetheless, the most important is to consider the energy cost. For the past few months, that I have been dipping my toes into both Microsoft and Apple’s services, I have learned that it is quite taxing. It takes not only time but my mental effort on how I can rearrange my apps to make it work together.

Integration with Google Services

Google is a software company which envisions to provide us “information in a single click.” It may be beneficial for some (like me) and sporadically, it isn’t especially with people who are concerned about their privacy. Google Photos is one of Google’s services that you can easily cast on a TV or a device, or it can even easily shared to anyone. Moreover, I can even attach photos in my Google Photos directly via Gmail.

Shared Albums

Photo by Rirri on Unsplash

This is one of the best features, especially if you are sharing it with a partner. I have been sharing all my photos with my wife and all of our photos in both our camera rolls exist on Google Photos. There is no need for us to keep on sending pictures, but it feels like our cameras are integrated. Every so often we don’t even know who took the photo as long as we know we have captured it.

Google One Exclusives

I am using an iOS device, and my wife uses Android. I have seen that there are editing features exclusive to Google One subscribers, and it has awesome. Google’s AI as it has been demonstrated with Pixel phones have proved its computational photography to be spectacular. I am even considering switching to an Android phone just to utilize this exclusive feature from Google.

Not to mention that Google’s AI is really remarkable in identifying contact names and even places you have taken photos. Everything is already searchable with one click for me as it has learned my behavior in utilizing Google services for the past years. I can walk down through memory lane easily because I could just search a place I have visited, and I will be able to see them immediately.

I am here to stay

Google Photos
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Many people are not considering moving out of Google Photos since it is no longer free starting June 2021. All I can say is “thank you, Google” for the past 5 years of allowing me to back up my photos for free. Considering all the tradeoffs that I will be losing if I decide to move, I have decided to stay. Yes, I am willing to shell out my precious cash to the company I trust.