It seems as though everyone and their uncle is launching some sort of cloud storage option these days—you can even DIY your own solution if you want to keep those corporate mitts off your data, but it’s important to know that not all cloud subscriptions are made equal. Some storage providers offer extra features, like encryption, better integration, and collaboration. Google Drive has long been the company’s go-to for cloud storage, so what exactly does Google One bring to the table, and do you really need the latest iteration of the big G’s cloud storage solution?
What is Google One?
In short, Google One is cloud storage that comes with set of cloud-based data management tools that seamlessly ties into Google’s other services, like Gmail, Drive, and Photos. When you open a Google account, you automatically get 15 GB of free cloud storage through Google One—previously this was part of Google Drive. Storage space on Google One is shared across Google’s range of cloud products—Drive, Gmail, and Photos—so uploading files to any of these services will consume the available space. Google One also offers paid subscriptions for expanded storage, in case you run out of the free 15 GB, or you plan on making use of cloud backups.
What do you get with Google One?
While limited to 15 GB, the free storage you get from Google One is still useful if you are not trying to back up a large photo library—giving you a place to back up your phone settings, store emails, and save a small collection of important documents. A major benefit to having this storage is that you have access to the files backed up on basically any platform that supports a web browser.
Google One’s paid monthly subscription comes in three flavors—the $1.99 Basic tier, the $2.99 Standard tier, and the $9.99 Premium tier—each of which not only grants users access to a specific amount of storage for emails, cloud backups, and general file management , but also gives users access to other benefits that might not be obvious at first glance. If 2 TB just isn’t enough for you, there are also 5 TB ($25), 10 TB ($50), 20 TB ($100), and 30 TB ($150) monthly plans available to current subscribers. It should also be noted that Google does offer a discount for the subscription if billed annually, coming in at 100 TB for $19.99, 200 GB for $29.99, and 2 TB for $99.99 annually—above 2 TB, there is no annual billing discount.
The $1.99 Google One Basic tier grants users access to 100 GB of storage, Pixel-exclusive photo filters and AI-powered photo-editing tools for photos Google Photos, and 24/7 live chat, email, or phone support from Google Experts. Going one tier up to the Standard package simply expands your storage to 200 GB while maintaining all the other benefits of the Basic package. Things get more interesting when it comes to the $9.99 package, which not only bumps up your storage to 2 TB, but also grants access to a Google VPN service.
Google One subscribers in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, and the USA are also eligible for rewards on select purchases from the Google Store. Members of the 200 GB tier are eligible for 3% back on purchases made through the Google Store—in the form of store credit—while members of the 2 TB and up plans are eligible for up to 10% back.
As of June 2022, the Google One VPN is available for both Android and iOS, and while it is still restricted to a small list of countries, Google is slowly but surely expanding the availability of the VPN service to new territories. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a VPN to avoid geo-blocking on the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime, you’re out of luck—Google’s VPN only exposes a toggle to the end-user, which will automatically connect you to the nearest server in your country. Google’s VPN is mainly marketed as a security and privacy as opposed to its contemporaries that allow manual location selection and further customization. Being security-focused, Google’s VPN encrypts your device traffic, hides your IP address, and purportedly only logs a very small amount of anonymous user data—a concern that many had when Google first announced the service—which is used to ensure a fast and stable connection when using the VPN.
If you’re already subscribed to Google One’s 2 TB Premium tier and haven’t made use of the VPN just yet—you have access to it, so you might as well try it out if for no other reason than to keep your connection secure when you’re on coffee shop Wi-Fi—take a look at our guide on how to use the Google One VPN. If you would like to get nerdy about the VPN, Google did release a white paper with all the details about how the system works, wherein the company claims that the VPN will never be used to collect or sell user data. Google also heavily emphasizes the fact that the VPN is audited by a third party to ensure that there are no shenanigans or privacy concerns.
Managing Google One storage
Google One ties into all your Google services—meaning you automatically make use of your storage when you use Gmail, Google Photos, Drive, or when you back up your phone. Google One app, available in the Play Store, is Google’s hub for managing your cloud storage. The app gives you access to features to help you free up cloud storage space, manage any family sharing settings you have enabled, and access the 24/7 live support included with the paid subscription.
The Google One app may come pre-installed on your Android device, but if it isn’t, you can install it directly from the Play store or APKMirror.
Google One family sharing
The paid Google One subscriptions come with family sharing feature, which allows users to share their Google One benefits with up to five other individuals, regardless of the subscription tier. Enabling family sharing doesn’t necessarily mean that the people you choose to share your storage with can access your information or personal files—unless you explicitly grant them permission, that is. Interestingly, even if you have shared your Google One storage space with a family member, they will still need to fill up their personal 15 GB of free Google One storage before it will eat into your paid quota, meaning your storage will only be used when it becomes necessary. However, Google has seen fit to allow each user to use as much of the storage in a family group as they like, with no usage limiting being possible—so be prepared to eventually duke it out with your cousin for more space to store memes.
To enable family sharing on Google One, all the members of the family group need to be in the same country.
Google One is just one of many cloud storage options available, but it does offer unique value because of its family sharing, automatic device backups, and tight Google account integrations—and at a reasonable price, all things considered. You can expect to see more companies develop their own alternatives, now that even the best Android phones that money can buy no longer have microSD expansion for all your adorable cat photos.