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Google accounting

Something even I wasn't aware of until recently, is that Google lumps all your services into one area of storage. What this means that you can easily fill up, for example, your 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 original resolution or 'high' resolution. This change comes into effect in June 2021.

What this means is that if you have, for example, 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 upload anything to Google Drive or 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, deselect 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 of all your photos, which you can extract to your hard drive. The photos within Google Photos can then be deleted from photos.google.com.

Even if you don't have Google Photos, you might want to check what your storage is like across your different Google services. To do this, go to one.google.com, 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 hard to fill up, 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 the following in and press Enter:
has:attachment larger:1mb

This will find all emails that you've received or sent which have reasonably large attachments, so that you can delete any 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 drive in check. If it doesn't feel free to get in touch. 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 only backup option I tend to recommend is local external hard drive storage. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's not convenient or easy to remember, but it's the only backup option you really have any control over.

- Matt Bentley, computer expert at Bentley Home PC Support.
Email info@homepcsupport.co.nz or phone 0211348576.

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