If you have a Gmail address, you can also access Google’s entire suite of online services. That includes Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and more.

Unfortunately, free users only get about 15GB of free storage to cover all of the storage for those services. A Google One subscription plan lets you pay for extra storage, offering more benefits. But is it worth subscribing to? 

Table of Contents
    Google One Explained: Is It Worth Subscribing To? image 1

    How Google Drive Storage Works

    The storage with your Google account is unified, except for compressed Google Photos. This means that your emails, Drive contents, device backups, and anything that has to be stored in the cloud count against the total pool.

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    If you’re just a mail user and dabble a little in Google Docs, then the 15GB storage is probably enough for you. However, if you’re taking full-quality photos and videos with your snazzy smartphone camera, you may also find your cloud backups eating into that drive quickly. So there’s a case for those invested in the ecosystem.

    Storage Plan Pricing

    Google One offers three tiers of storage to new subscribers:

    • 100GB Plan: At $2 per month or $20 paid annually, you get 100GB to share with up to five people in your family plan. You get access to Google Experts, Google Play credits, advanced Google Photos editing features, Google hardware discounts, and hotel accommodation deals.
    • 200GB Plan: At $3 per month or $30 paid annually, you get 200GB of storage to share with up to five people. You also get 3% of Google Store purchases back as credit. This tier includes all the other perks included with the 100GB plan.
    • 2TB Plan: For $10 per month or $100 paid annually, you get two terabytes of storage to share between five people, 10% back on Google Store purchases, access to the Google VPN, and all other perks in the two lower tiers.
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    Google One offers larger storage tiers, but you can only access them once you’re already a subscriber to the public tiers. You also have to be in an eligible country:

    • 5TB Plan: For $25 per month or $250 paid annually, you get five terabytes of storage, with all the perks on lower tiers, except you now get 10% back on Google Store purchases.
    • 10TB Plan: At $50 a month or $600 per year, you get lower perks but no annual discount.
    • 20TB Plan: At $100 a month or $1200 per year, you get lower perks but no annual discount.
    • 30TB Plan: At $150 a month or $1800 per year, you get lower perks but no annual discount.

    Family Group Sharing

    Google One allows you to share your storage allocation with up to five family members for a total of six members.

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    There’s no household restriction in our experience with the service. The different members don’t have to be different. We’ve used Google One with multiple accounts belonging to the same user. This makes it easy to share storage across your other Google accounts.

    Adding or removing members is simple. From the Google One app or home page, simply go to 

    Getting Expert Help and Support Priority

    Google’s services are excellent when they work correctly, but things can go wrong now and then. It’s easy to depend on tools like Google Drive and Google Docs, but you aren’t entitled to timely support if you’re a free user.

    The best place for free users to go is the community forums where other users can help. But if you’re a Google One subscriber, you get priority access to Google experts who can help you in minutes or hours.

    Most people will never need this feature, but if your work or business relies on Google’s products, this access to priority help is worth the entire price of a Google One subscription.

    Premium Google Photo Editing

    The Google Photos app is a simple interface to let you see and manage photos that have been backed up to your Google account. Many people may not know that you can also edit your photos right there in the app.

    You’ll gain access to several advanced editing features if you’re a Google One subscriber. Google has made a name for itself in computational photography with its Pixel phones, and whether you’re on an Android device or iPhone, you can access some of that magic with this feature.

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    You’ll find several “Suggestions” to spruce up your photo in one fell swoop. These include Dynamic, Vivid, Color Pop, Luminous, Afterglow, and others.

    You’ll also get advanced blur and color focus features. Although if you’ve opened a photo that already contains depth information, these features don’t require a Google One subscription. Other adjustments include the ability to introduce virtual portrait lights and HDR editing.

    These features won’t work with just any phone, however. You need Android 8.0 or iOS 14 and at least 3GB of RAM, regardless of your operating system.

    The Google One VPN

    VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) create encrypted data tunnels through the web so that neither your ISP nor anyone on the same Wi-Fi network can spy on your browsing.

    Free VPNs are usually dangerous or perform poorly, so many people fork out a monthly fee for fast and reputable services. If you’re a Google One subscriber on the 2TB plan or higher, you can also access Google’s VPN service. There’s no one in the world with the global network infrastructure of Google, so their VPN is undoubtedly good.

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    However, it’s currently only available on iOS and Android phones, with plans for Windows and macOS still in the pipeline. Also, if you want to use a VPN to unblock content restricted in your country, Google’s VPN won’t be much help there. On the other hand, if you wish to protect your privacy on your smartphone, it’s a fantastic perk. Speaking of perks…

    Google One Perks (AKA Member Benefits)

    Depending on your country, Google One offers an ever-rotating selection of extra benefits. Some may be from third-party partners, and others are from Google themselves.

    You might get free Google Play Store credit to spend on content like movies or apps. You may also receive free Google hardware, early access to Google stuff, or big members-only discounts. It’s hard to quantify whether this should be part of Google One’s value proposition since benefits are unpredictable and currently seem US-centric.

    Getting Google One for Free

    Google sometimes partners with companies like Samsung to bundle a Google One plan with handsets or mobile contracts. For example, Three (a UK network operator) offers its subscribers three months of the 100GB plan.

    What Happens to Data When You Unsubscribe?

    If you downgrade your Google One account, cancel it, or otherwise lose access to your expanded data, Google will adjust your quota accordingly. However, your data won’t disappear. You have at least two years to either download and delete your data yourself or pay to expand your storage again. 

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    While you’re over your quota, you can’t upload or create new files. You won’t be able to sync anything, and you can’t edit or copy any of your files. So don’t be worried that you might suddenly lose your data if you can’t pay or your card expires, and you don’t notice!

    Is Google One Worth It for Mac and iOS Users?

    There’s plenty to like about Google One, even if you’re an iPhone or Mac user. There’s a macOS version of the Google Drive desktop client just like Microsoft Windows, and mobile apps are available for the iPhone and iPad.

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    We think Apple customers would be far better off buying their additional cloud storage through iCloud. The integration of Apple devices with iCloud goes beyond what Google can do on the platform, so if we had to choose as Apple users, that would be the sensible choice. Of course, you can use both at the same time!

    Who Should Subscribe to Google One?

    This subscription service is undoubtedly an incredible deal, even if you only look at it from a dollars per gigabyte perspective. Still, anyone who relies on Google’s tools and apps will benefit significantly from paying a little to expand their unified storage space.

    Even if you can stay under the 15GB limit, access to priority customer support alone is worth the entry price. Add the fact that you can share the storage pool with up to six people, and it becomes a straightforward cloud storage service to recommend to anyone with a smartphone or, indeed, an internet connection.