When you sign up with a Google account, you automatically receive 15GB of cloud storage for free. Here you can store your photos, documents, messages and more. While this may seem like a lot, you can actually run out of space pretty fast. In this article, we show you how to check how much Google storage you have left so that you’re never caught off guard. We also share some tips that show how to free up some space and avoid exceeding the limit.
What Counts Toward Your Google Storage Limit?
To keep your storage limit in check, you’ll first need to be aware of what counts toward your Google storage quota. The 15GB of storage is split across Google’s three main products: Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos.
Basically, anything in these accounts count toward your Google storage limit. This includes:
- Gmail messages and attachments, including those in the Spam or Trash folders.
- Meet call recordings, which are saved in the organizer’s Google Drive.
- Files in your Google Drive, including PDFs, images and videos.
- Files created and edited in Google apps, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms.
- Original quality photos and videos backed up to Google Photos.
- Photos previously known as “High Quality” and now classified as “Storage saver,” which are pictures compressed to 16MP, and “Express Quality” photos and videos backed up to Google Photos. Note that any photos and videos backed up in “High Quality” and “Express Quality” before June 2021 don’t count toward your Google account storage. Everything before that date does count, however.
- Your phone data backups.
What Happens When You Run Out Of Space?
When you run out of space, your files will stop getting backed up to your account. That means you can no longer manually upload files or images to Google Drive or Photos.
Even worse, Google says that your ability to send and receive emails in Gmail could be impacted. Even so, you will still be able to sign in to and access your Google Account.
If you’ve exceeded your quota for two years or longer and did nothing to remedy the situation, Google will remove your content from Gmail, Google Drive and Photos. Fortunately, you’ll receive a notice in advance within these apps. You’ll also get a chance to avoid deletion or download your content.
When you run out of space, you basically have two options if you want to continue using the storage: buy more storage or get back under your quota.
How to Check How Much Google Storage You Have Left
To make sure you’re not drawing closer to your limit, you should check your Google storage status from time to time. The easiest two ways are:
- Visit the Google One page to view the statistics that show much storage you currently have and how it’s been divided between Google Drive, Gmail and Photos.
- Access the Google One app on your mobile device (Android | iOS).
Alternatively, open up a browser on your PC and navigate to google.com. Click on your profile picture in the top-right corner.
Click on the “Manage your Google Account” button. From the menu on the left, select “Payments & subscriptions.”
Scrolls down to see how much storage you’ve used.
If you want more options, click on the “Manage storage” button underneath. You’ll be taken to the Google One page and will see all the details regarding your storage usage and more.
On mobile, you can open the Google app (Android | iOS) and retrace the steps above to find your “Account storage” info.
How to Free Up Google Storage
The majority of users probably aren’t too thrilled about the prospects of having to pay for extra storage. If that sounds like you, follow the series of tips below regarding how to free up some of that Google storage space.
1. Use Google’s Own Storage Manager
The quickest way to clear up storage is Google’s Storage Manager, which is also built into the Google One app. The tool highlights files that are eligible to be removed including:
- Deleted emails
- Spam emails
- Deleted files
- Emails with large attachments
- Large files from Drive or Photos
All of these files are grouped under folders, which you are invited to review and clear. Go through each of them and delete the files that you no longer need.
2. Identify the Problem Yourself
If, for whatever reason, you don’t wish to go through Google’s Storage Manager, you can identify the problem yourself and take the necessary action.
Go back to the Google One page to view the chart that shows you how much space is filled and which app uses the most. In this case, it’s Google Photos. Armed with this knowledge, you can go back to the app(s) in question and clear some space.
Here’s how to do so in individual apps:
- Delete emails with large attachments – While Gmail doesn’t show you how much storage space is allocated to each email thread, it lets you search your inbox by size using an operator. In the search box, type something like
size:15mb. Once identified, delete these emails. You can also save the attachments beforehand.
- Delete files in the Spam folder – remember that what’s inside the Spam folder counts against your quota, so clear it out.
- Delete files in Bin – the same applies to the Bin folder. Purge everything that’s contained inside.
- Remove large files – you’ll need to find and delete the files that are eating up the most space. To easily do that, click on the “Storage” bar underneath the menu on the left. Once you click it, a list of files will load on the right side of the display, starting with the largest ones. You can delete them from there. You’ll need to do this from your PC, as this option is not available in the mobile app.
- Delete the trash – simply deleting the files from your Drive won’t free up space. Instead, you must remember to clear the “Bin” in order to permanently remove these files. Files left in the “Bin” will be automatically delete after 30 days. On mobile, you’ll find the option listed as “Trash.”
- Get rid of unwanted files – in the Google Photos app, tap on your profile picture in the upper-right corner. From there, tap on “Manage storage” button under your “Account storage” information. Review all the listed categories, including “Large photos & videos,” and delete the files that are no longer needed.
- Delete the trash – once again, don’t forget to permanently delete the files from the previous step. To do that, press the “Library” button at the bottom and then tap “Trash.” Select the files you want to permanently delete, then press “Delete” at the bottom.
- Stop Photos from backing up your pics – if you don’t want to worry about photos eating up your storage space, disable the auto backup option. In the app, press on your profile picture and select “Photo Settings -> Back up & sync.” Disable the toggle. Alternatively, check “Upload size” and make sure it’s set to “Storage saver.”
Buy More Storage
If your needs far surpass the free 15GB offered by Google, you can always buy more storage. To do so, go to the Google One page. Make sure you are signed in with the Google account that needs additional storage. There are various options to choose from:
- Basic – 100GB of additional storage for $2 a month or $20 annually
- Standard – 200GB of extra storage for $3 a month or $30 annually
- Premium – 2TB of extra storage for $10 a month or $100 annually.
Interestingly, Google offers additional plans for users who’ve already paid for a Google One membership in the past. These users also have the option to opt for 10TB, 20TB or 30TB plans.
If you’re considering signing up with one of Google’s paid storage plans, check out our review of Google One. It may help you decide if that’s the right decision for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between Google One and Google Drive?
Google One is Google’s paid cloud storage service that gives you access to additional storage across Google Drive/Photos and Gmail. As for Drive, this is Google’s default storage service, which is free with any personal Google account.
I’ve deleted multiple files, but the Google Drive storage still appears full. What went wrong?
First, check your “Bin” to ensure you permanently deleted the files in question. If you did, you may have to wait 24 hours before the space clears up. Check again the next day to see whether there’s been a change.
What are some of the benefits, other than the extra storage, of upgrading to Google One?
Some of the best extra features you’ll get by upgrading your One plan include extra editing features in Google Photos and the ability to add five other family members to share in the storage. Moreover, users can get access to hotel deals, as well as discounts and trials.
Image credit: Freepik. All screenshots by Alexandra Arici
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