Google may delete your Gmail, photos and docs — what you need to do now

Google storage
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Google is warning users that their Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photos content may be deleted when the company implements changes to its cloud storage policies. 

Google notified some users by email, then released a blog post Wednesday detailing the upcoming changes, which take effect June 1, 2021. They apply to consumer accounts with content in Gmail, Drive and Photos. And some of those users may find their files deleted if they don't upgrade their storage capacity soon. 

Right now, consumer Google Accounts come with 15 GB of free storage across Gmail, Drive and Photos. Starting June 1, 2021, the company is getting aggressive about files in accounts that are inactive or over their capacity. If your account is inactive for two years or over that storage limit for two years, Google may delete your content. (The same will soon apply to legacy free G Suite accounts.)

The tech giant assures users, "We will notify you multiple times before we attempt to remove any content so you have ample opportunities to take action."

Also starting June 1, Google will start counting new high quality photos or videos, as well as any new Drive files (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms or Jamboard) toward the the free 15 GB. Once users hit that limit, they will need to purchase additional storage.

There's an exemption for existing high-quality photos and videos that are backed up before June 1. And existing Drive files also won't count unless they are modified on or after that date.

The new storage policies will also affect Google Workspace subscribers, and G Suite for Education and G Suite for Nonprofits, which the company detailed in another blog post.

How to manage and upgrade Google storage

Google's storage changes don't take effect until June 1, so if you're concerned about your content and files, you have plenty of time to make sure nothing gets deleted. 

First, if you've been inactive, simply log in and visit Gmail, Google Drive and Photos. 

Check how much storage you're using across your account at Google One. If you're close to the limit, there's a handy tool with suggestions for freeing up space. 

If you require more than the free storage, you can upgrade to one of three paid tiers: 100 GB ($1.99/month or $19.99/year), 200 GB ($2.99/month or $29.99/year) and 2 TB ($9.99/month or $99.99/year). 

You also can check out some of the best cloud storage solutions to house all your files. Learn more about how to choose a cloud storage and backup provider

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.