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How to clean up your Google storage

Written by Kalvi Bhoomi

Google Drive

Modern life revolves more and more around data and data storage: with rapidly growing files for movies, video games, photos, and all the digital programs we know, love, and live on, the question becomes: how do we make everything stack together?

If you’re like us, Google provided a solid answer with Google Drive, our favorite online storage database. We use it for almost everything, but…

There is a limit!

Specifically, a 15 Gigabyte limit, which can be seen at the bottom left corner of your Google Drive page:

If you’re like us, it seems like only yesterday the bar showed just megabytes taken up. Now it’s 6.9 gigabytes! Where did all of that data come from? Where did it go?

We’re going to answer that crucial question, and help you manage this cloud space easier.

How to take care of your Google storage

What Makes Up Google’s Storage?

First things first; what is Google Drive made of? The simple answer is comprised of just three things:

  1. Google Drive
  2. Gmail
  3. Google Photos

Looking at storage in Google Drive alone, you may have been surprised at the amount of data you use! Alternatively, in Gmail, you may suddenly run up against an unexpected data limit. If that’s the case…

First, let us help you get a better visual. Head into Drive and click “UPGRADE STORAGE” on the data graphic:

You’ll be shown a far more useful graph:

Ah, Gmail has all the data!

Doesn’t that make more sense?

There are now two options: manage storage, or upgrade storage. We’ll first focus on how to manage Drive, Gmail, and Photos in the coming section. Then, just in case, we’ll quickly mention the possibility of a storage subscription!

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Google Drive

Manually check through Drive to see which things you want to get rid of. If you’re not sure how to start, we have a few suggestions:

1. By date used: on the main Google Drive page, within any folder, you can arrange files by their “Last modified” date. There’s a general rule that older files are often less important! (On the other hand, if you don’t want to throw away your copy of 2014 tax returns, there are other ways…)

2. File size: an even better option, located right next to the Last Modified button! While some files may be more important, you may not want to clear up Google storage kilobytes at a time… so organize them by size, and see if there’s anything you no longer need!

3. The Search Bar: if you’re looking for something more specific – perhaps documents shared with certain people, or keyword specific – the search bar has some cool stuff!

For the full experience, make sure to check out “More search tools” at the bottom of the drop-down menu:

Gmail

Gmail has fewer tools to find files for a number of reasons. For example: it’s hard to tell what emails will become important later, and they generally are small messages that take up little space.

However, emails pile up quickly!

If you need to keep the storage down, there are functions called search operators, which help you look through the Gmail inbox by altering the results of a Gmail search. For an extensive list of search operators, visit this page.

However, we recommend this one:

In the Gmail search, enter “size:” and then a number. Gmail brings up all messages larger than that number, in bytes! Now, you can search for files of any size, and get rid of the most cumbersome emails.

(And if you need an easy conversion calculator, try this!)

Finally, Gmail storage management can be a defensive rather than an offensive act. Proactively create a system to stop your inbox from overflowing with unnecessary mail:

1. Block spam, and periodically empty the folder completely. While “spam” blocks certain messages from reaching your inbox, they still take up storage space.

2. If you think an email will be important in the future, mark it as “important” or “flagged”. This will ensure you don’t erase it in the future, leaving you free to delete less pressing messages.

The key here is to make sure you block unnecessary emails ahead of time. If they pile up into the thousands, it will be time-consuming to go through everything and sort the good from the bad!

Google Photos

Ah, finally! Google photos…

Frankly, it’s better that you organize photos however you see fit. Pictures are often precious to people: look at each image individually and decide if you should throw it out. A picture of family? Probably keep. An old recipe screenshot? Probably throw away.

In the end, the decision’s yours.

If your storage reaches the 15 gigabyte limit due to photos and other documents you can’t part with, you may want to upgrade your cloud storage, our final option.

Upgrade Storage

While we’re still scraping the underside of Google’s copious 15 gigabyte allowance in the “Free” category, the upgrade to 100 gigs doesn’t cost too much, possibly just $20 a year.

If that sounds good, there are additional benefits to the subscriptions beyond storage! Get advice from Google professionals, add family members that can share your cloud data, and more!

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Thanks for reading!

About the author

Kalvi Bhoomi