Google Account: Manage your 15GB of free online storage

If you use Gmail, Google Drive, or Google Photos, you’ll have to learn how to manage the 15 GB of free online storage in your Google Account so that you can share it between services without going over the limit!

Like many Internet users, you probably use Google’s services to save online the photos and videos you take with your smartphone with Google Photos, send, receive and store emails with Gmail, keep files of all kinds in the cloud with Google Drive, and create office documents online with tools such as Docs, Sheets, Slides or Forms. All of these items are now safely stored on Google’s servers, in the 15GB of free online storage space associated with your Google Account, which you use on your computer as well as your phone or tablet. And, like everyone else, you probably store without counting and without keeping an eye on the gauge…

From June 1, 2021, however, you will have to start behaving differently. Indeed, the American giant will change the way the free 15GB it reserves for you online can be used. The unlimited aspect long touted by Google for photos in particular – it was used as an argument to market its Pixel smartphones, whose internal storage space is quite limited compared to the competition – will soon be relegated to the dustbin. If you haven’t opted for one of the paid plans of the Google One service allowing you to take advantage of additional space (from €19.99/year for 100 GB to €99.99/year for 2 TB), you’ll have to make do with the free 15 GB. And learn how to share them to continue to use Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos comfortably.

What will change for Google Photos?

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Currently, you can save your photos and videos in Google Photos without any limit – i.e. without taking into account the 15 GB allotment – as long as you have chosen to save them in High Quality and not in Original Quality. A format that slightly affects the quality of the image by applying compression to obtain high definition shots and videos of less than 16 Megapixels. After June 1, this will no longer be the case. All the shots and footage you save in your Google space, in High Quality or Original Quality, will be deducted from your 15GB allotment. No more unlimited storage! A little subtlety: the items already stored on Google Photos in High Quality will not be deducted from the 15 GB. Phew! On the other hand, if you have photos or videos saved in Original Quality, they will still count towards this quota, as is the case today. Finally, after June 1, items stored in Original Quality and then compressed to High Quality will be deducted from your 15GB.

If you are a frequent user of the Google Photos space to save your files, this change in the terms of use imposed by Google is very important. Google even provides a tool to estimate how much time you have left to use your Google Photos space before saturation based on your current usage. You’ll have to keep an eye on the available space much more often. In the meantime, if you still have items to upload to Google Photos, hurry up and upload them before June 1st!

What will change for Gmail?

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Google’s email service is also affected by the upcoming terms of use. Indeed, the free 15 GB at your disposal are shared between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos (for items saved in Original Quality). Also, all the emails in your mailbox (inbox, outbox, spam, and trash) and the attachments they contain are counted and deducted from the available space. Rest assured, Google will not delete your emails without your knowledge to make room. However, if you have never cleaned up your email, you may have to do so to save some space.

What will change for Google Drive?

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Google Drive is the online storage space set up by Google and allows you to save all types of documents: office files, PDFs, but also music, video, and photos that you do not want to save in Google Photos, etc. All of these are currently deducted from the 15 GB of free storage, except for documents from the Google office suite. However, as of June 1, these will also be taken into account. Each new document created with Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Forms will be deducted from your quota. Google is being subtle with documents that are already there: if you just open them to look at them, they will not be counted. On the other hand, as soon as you make the slightest modification to one of them (even if it’s only to change its name), it is taken into account.

How to know the remaining available space on Google?

The American giant has set up a web page that displays a summary of your personal situation regarding space you already use and what you have left.

  • Go to the page dedicated to Google storage. Log in by entering your email address and password.
  • The page that appears shows the amount of space used by the three services that use the 15 GB of storage provided: Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.

How to make space in a Google account?

Is your Google online space filling up dangerously close to the maximum capacity? Google provides you with a few tools to clean up and make some space back.

  • Go to the Manage Account Storage page set up by Google. If you haven’t already done so, log in with your email address and password.
  • Google displays a summary of the situation. The page shows the weight of the emails placed in the recycle garbage can which is not emptied, the volume of unwanted emails, as well as the files placed in the recycle garbage can of Google Drive but which are not yet deleted.
  • If you maintain your mailbox by regularly purging junk mail and the recycle garbage can, the amount of data these items represent should be rather small. Nevertheless, click on the Review and Release Junk Mail button. In the window that appears, all the emails that Gmail has deemed as junk are listed. Go through the list to make sure that no important mail has slipped in. Then check the All items box at the top left of the window, and click on the trash can icon at the top right to delete them permanently.
  • Repeat the operation for deleted Emails as well as for deleted files from Google Drive.
  • Google also allows you to detect large files that are taking up space on your Google Account. Scroll down the Manage Account Storage page to the Large Items section.
  • Listed here are emails with attachments, files in Google Drive that are larger than 16MB, and photos and videos stored in Google Photos that are taking up space. Please note: we have not entered the selection criterion here, as we found images weighing 5 MB with a resolution of 12 megapixels in the selection made by Google. So check carefully the photos and videos selected by Google.
  • To clean up and save space, do the same as for emails and deleted files on Google Drive. Click on the Review & Free button of each item, perform your verification and then delete unnecessary files, pictures, and videos.
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