Strategies to sort online storage

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By Matt Bentley

I became aware only recently that Google lumps all our account services into one storage area.

That means we can easily fill up, for example, our Google Drive (online cloud storage) and then not be able to receive emails through Gmail. To make matters worse, Google has recently announced changes to make storage of photos within the Google Photos app non-free, regardless of whether the pictures were stored at their original resolution or just ‘high’ resolution. This change comes into effect in June 2021.

That means that if you have, at the moment, 2GB of photos sitting in your Google Photos account, and only 1GB of storage left in your overall Google account, come June you’re going to have no storage left, and no ability to check emails. The way around this is to remove all your photos from Google Photos and store them locally on your computer.

You can do this fairly easily by going to takeout.google.com in a web browser, deselecting all ticked options, then only tick your Google Photos, and go to Next Step at the bottom of the page. This will allow you to download a zip file of all your photos, which you can then extract to somewhere on your computer. The photos within Google Photos can then be deleted from photos.google.com.

Google lumps all your online storage together so strategies are needed to not lose services
[Photo: Solen Feyissa, UnSplash]

But even if you don’t have Google Photos, you might want to check what your storage balance is like across your different Google services. To do this, go to one.google.com and click on Storage in the left-hand pane. This will show you how much space each of your services is using. A basic free google account gives you 15GB of space, which is quite a lot, but if you’ve had a gmail account for a long time, and you receive or send a lot of emails with attachments on them, it can fill up. To search your gmail account for emails with attachments, go to gmail.com, click on the search box at the top, then type in the following and press Enter: has:attachment larger:1mb

This will find any emails that you’ve received or sent which have reasonably large attachments, so that you can delete any that you no longer need. In addition, if you’re not concerned about keeping a record of what you’ve sent people, you can click on your Sent folder in the left pane, click the tick box at the top to select all messages, then click the text which says ‘Select all messages…’ on the right. Then click on the Bin icon, which will delete all messages in your Sent folder.

Hopefully that helps with keeping your google account storage balance under control. If not, or uncertain, contact me.

It is worth noting that any online service can change it’s terms at any point in time, and this has happened with Dropbox and Google several times. That’s why the main backup option I tend to recommend is local external hard drive storage. It’s not perfect, and sometimes it’s not as convenient, but it’s the only backup option you really have full control over.

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