How Google Is Cutting Back On Free Storage

How Google Is Cutting Back On Free Storage

The amount of free storage Google offers with its products is fairly generous, but it’s about to get a lot less so. The company is combining the storage allowances for Drive and Picasa and slashing the overall total, as well changing the way it calculates the amount of storage you get if you pay for upgrades.

Google announced the changes in one of its regular “spring cleaning” posts about changing and retired products. Here’s the full statement:

Google storage in Picasa and Drive will be consolidated over the next few months, so users will have five GB of free storage across both services. If you’re paying for storage, your free storage will now be counted towards your total. So if you buy a 100GB plan, it will give you 100GB of total storage instead of adding to what you already had. We believe this approach will make it much easier for users. For both free and paid storage, people at or near their current storage limits will have the same amount of storage after this change.

So how will this work? If you were to sign up for a new Google account right now, you would get 10GB of Gmail storage, 5GB of storage in Google Drive for documents and 1GB of storage in Picasa. If you want more storage, you could pay $2.49 a month, get an additional 25GB of storage for Picasa and Drive (that’s a total of 31GB) and have your Gmail storage space upgraded to 25GB.

After the change, the free account will still have 10GB of Gmail, but only 5GB of storage across Google Drive and Picasa (rather than 6GB as currently). If you chose the $US2.49 a month upgrade, you’d have 25GB of Gmail, and 25GB across Drive and Picasa (rather than 31GB).

For reference, this is the full range of storage upgrade plans Google will offer once the change comes into effect:

Price ($US) Gmail Drive/Picasa
Free 10GB 5GB
$2.49 25GB 25GB
$4.99 25GB 100GB
$9.99 25GB 200GB
$19.99 25GB 400GB
$49.99 25GB 1TB
$99.99 25GB 2TB
$199.99 25GB 4TB
$399.99 25GB 8TB
$799.99 25GB 16TB

5GB of documents and photos for free is still a generous amount, many users will have more than that anyway because of past upgrades and offers , and the remark about “people at or near their current storage limits” suggests there will be some flexibility in the process. Also bear in mind that new documents you create using Google Docs in Drive don’t count towards your storage total, so it can take a long time to even approach the limit — hi-res photos in Picasa are a much bigger risk in this respect. In Picasa, pictures under 800 by 800 are free, and that rises to 2048 by 2048 if you upload via Google+.

Given that there’s no fixed date for the switch, if you’ve been contemplating signing up for extra storage, now might be a sensible time to do it. Alternatively, you might want to start storing some data with other services such as Skydrive, Flickr or Dropbox. And remember: free stuff is great, but no company is obligated to offer it.

More spring cleaning [Official Google Blog]


  • I’m not too worried – in some ways this is actually an improvement for the free quotas. I tend to use Picasa more than Drive anyway, because of its compatibility with Android’s Gallery app (and I use Skydrive for documents because of The Office web apps). I would rather use my free 5GB on Picasa storage than Drive storage, so integrating the two is a positive in my eyes.

  • Out of all the cloud storage apps, google drive is probably the best although Dropbox is on par but for $5 a month for 100 gb storage, that’s freaking fantastic. I’ll never lose any of my uni work ever again.

  • I HATE it when they claim “We believe this approach will make it much easier for users.” like they do (if if they do they are stupider than their users), its just a little less value for money than it used to be.

    • Actually, storage being allocated separately has been a huge complaint from users, so it probably _is_ much easier for users. Picasa photos (Google+ Photos) using instant upload or below 4MP aren’t counted against your quota, anyway. I don’t think I’ve had anything count against my Picasa quota in a couple of years.

      Most users are hoping that this is the precursor to rolling Picasaweb into Drive. Right now, both offer photo storage and deal with the photos differently.

  • I get 25GB free with *gasp* Skydrive. I think you have to jump through some hoops to get more than the basic 7GB (from memory), but since it’s bigger than all my other online storage providers put together, it’s become a handy backup for them all.

    Google Drive is my primary service for real files though…

    • Upgrading to 25Gb was only available to existing WindowsLive customers and I think it was a limited time offer. If you sign up now you will only get the basic 7Gb for free AFAIK. I upgraded mine to 25Gb by clicking on one button. I have and Dropbox accounts but I find SkyDrive works well enough that I no longer use the others. In fact, since the revamp, SkyDrive is actually really good.

  • I had brought 25gb for $5 a year a couple of years back, you read that right… $5 A YEAR. This was back in 2009. I had opened a google wallet account to pay for it. It is still going on till date. 25GB for Picasa, 25 GB for Gmail and now it added itself up to 25gb for Gdrive too. I guess I am one of the lucky ones.
    🙂 Its called a legacy plan!

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