Upcoming changes to how your Google storage works

Starting November 11, 2020, we are updating product policies for Google Photos, Gmail, and Google Drive (including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard and Sites) for inactive or over quota accounts.

About Google Account storage

Each Google Account includes 15 GB of free storage quota, which is shared across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. You can add to your storage quota by purchasing a Google One membership (where available). Occasionally, you may receive free additional quota from a special promotion or related purchase. To learn more about your quota, see what items count towards your storage.

What affects your Google Account storage

Prior to June 1, 2021

The following items count against your storage quota

  • Original quality photos and videos backed up to Google Photos
  • Gmail messages and attachments, including your Spam and Trash folders
  • Most files in Google Drive, including PDFs, images, and videos

If you go over your storage quota

  • You can no longer upload new files or images to Google Drive
  • You can't back up Original quality photos and videos to Google Photos 
  • Your ability to send and receive email in Gmail may be impacted
  • You can still sign into and access your Google Account

After June 1, 2021

The following additional items will count against your storage quota:

  • High quality and Express quality photos and videos backed up to Google Photos after June 1, 2021. Learn more about this change.
  • Files created or edited in collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard. 
    • Only files created or edited after June 1, 2021 will count against your quota. 
    • Files uploaded or last edited before June 1, 2021 will not count against your quota. 

And this is how your usage impacts your data

If you do not use Gmail, Google Drive (including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms or Jamboard) or Google Photos for 2 years, your content within the inactive product(s) may be deleted (after reasonable advance notice).

If you go over your storage quota

  • You can’t upload new files or images to Google Drive. 
  • You can't back up any photos and videos to Google Photos. 
  • Your ability to send and receive email in Gmail can also be impacted. 
  • You can’t create new files in collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard. And until you reduce your storage usage, neither you nor anyone else can edit or copy your affected files.
  • You can still sign into and access your Google Account.

When you have been over your storage quota for 2 years, your content in Gmail, Google Drive (including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard files) and Google Photos may be deleted.

 

When you’re over quota, it means you’re using more storage space than you have available. If you’ve been over quota for 2 years or longer, and you have not freed up or purchased more space to get back under quota, all of your content may be removed from Gmail, Drive and Photos. But before that happens, we will:

  • Give you notice using email and notifications within the Google products. We will contact you at least three months before content is eligible for deletion. 
  • Give you the opportunity to avoid deletion (by paying for additional storage or removing files)
  • Give you the opportunity to download your content from our services. Learn more about how to download your Google data.

How to go back under quota

We provide access to storage management tools that help you identify ways to free up storage space at https://one.google.com/storage. Another option to free up space is to download your files to your personal device and then delete them from your cloud storage.

If you want more storage space for Gmail, Drive, and Photos, you can upgrade to a larger storage plan with Google One.

What happens when you're inactive

When you have been inactive in Gmail, Google Drive (including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard or Sites files) or Google Photos for 2 years, all of your content may be removed from that that product. But before that happens, we will:

  • Give you notice using email and notifications within the Google products. We will contact you at least three months before content is eligible for deletion. 
  • Give you the opportunity to avoid deletion (by becoming active in the product)
  • Give you the opportunity to download your content from our services. Learn more about how to download your Google data.

If you're a Google One member with no outstanding payment or quota issues, you are considered active.

Important: As an example, if you're inactive for 2 years in Photos, but still active in Drive and Gmail, only your Google Photos content will be deleted. Content in Gmail and Google Drive (including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard files) will not be deleted if you are active in those products. 

How to stay active in these products

The simplest way to keep your data active is to periodically visit Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive (and/or collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard and Sites) on the web or through a Google app. Make sure you’re signed in and connected to the internet.

Please note that you may have multiple accounts set up on your device. Activity is considered by account, not by device. Make sure you’re using the services for all accounts on which you wish to remain active.

Examples of activity

Gmail

  • Signed in and online activity in the Gmail Android, iOS or Web app. For example, using the app to:
    • View your inbox
    • Open an email 
    • Send an email  
    • Archive, delete, label, mark as read, star, or any other email actions
    • Perform background syncs of your inbox performed by the GMail Android and iOS app
  • Access email via API or a third-party mail client which:
    • Loads emails
    • Sends an email
    • Archives, deletes, labels, marks as read, stars, or performs any other email actions.
  • Turn on email forwarding or keep it running 

Google Drive (including collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard and Sites)

  • Any authenticated usage. This includes:
    • Loading Drive on Android, iOS or web 
    • Using an add-on or a third-party application with Drive
    • Syncing content from a user device with any sync client like Drive File Stream or Backup and Sync
    • Using Drive from another app (to attach Drive files to emails, preview files in Drive, etc.)
    • Completing any activity on a file stored in Drive, such as creating, editing, viewing, sharing or commenting
    • Using any collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard and Sites

Google Photos

  • Signed in and online activity in the Photos Android, iOS or Web app. For example, using the app to:
    • View your backed up gallery
    • Share a photo or video
    • Create an album or photo book
  • Back up a photo or video

Frequently asked questions

Do these policies apply to G Suite/Workspace accounts as well as consumer accounts?

Some changes regarding quota will apply to some Google Workspace, G Suite for Education and G Suite for Nonprofits plans. Please refer to our Google Workspace Updates post to understand how these changes may impact them. 

Does this apply to Google Sites, Google Keep, and other creation apps not listed here? What about Blogger and YouTube content?

No, this does not apply to Google Sites or Google Keep. It also does not apply to Blogger or YouTube content. 

I’m over my quota. How long do I have until my content gets deleted? 

If your account is subject to this policy change, we’ll attempt to give you ample notice (at least three months) before your content may be deleted. Your content will be eligible for deletion when you have been over your storage quota for 2 years. To make sure your content is not deleted, either reduce how much storage you’re using or upgrade to a larger storage plan with Google One.

Are you going to tell me before my data is deleted? 

If your account is subject to this policy change, we’ll give you ample notice (at least three months) before your content may be deleted. We’ll attempt to reach you via your email address and notifications. Learn more about managing email addresses  for your Google account.

I don’t know if I can stay active once every 2 years. What should I do?

We understand that some life events can keep you away from your phone or computer for an extended period of time. That’s why we set a 2-year period before you’re considered inactive. 

For another way to manage your data should you become inactive, consider using the Inactive Account Manager. Besides sending you reminders about the account, this tool allows you to manage what happens to your account when you can no longer use it. You can also set up a trusted contact to download your data if you stop using your account, even before it would be eligible for deletion. 

Additionally, you can proactively download your data to back it up at any time.

How do I preserve content from a loved one if they pass away?

We recognize that many people pass away without leaving clear instructions about how to manage their online accounts. Google can work with immediate family members and representatives (in certain circumstances) to provide content from a deceased user's account. Learn more about our process for requesting a deceased user’s data

To let us know in advance what to do with your data in the event of death or prolonged inactivity, learn more about Inactive Account Manager.  

  • Note: Inactive Account Manager settings don’t override our inactive and over quota policies.
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