When signing up for a Google account you get 15 GB of storage space in the cloud. That space is shared by Gmail, Google Drive and Photos. If you have a Google Account you can see what space these accounts are using by visiting google.com/settings/storage. Below is a screenshot of my account space allocations (after I had cleaned up things). If you notice I have 19 GB of storage. Somewhere along the line I had somehow acquired an additional 4 GB of space (to give me 19 GB, but I don’t remember what I did to get that).
Gmail will consume space if you send/receive a lot of email with attachments, but it takes years for see it is really impacting your allotted Google account space. I have been using Gmail since it inception (April 1, 2004) and I have used 9+ GBs. I will soon work on a strategy to backup those emails (to my computer) and back the account down to about a years worth of emails. Many people do not save emails, but I do. I will soon post an article on what you can do to backup your Gmail emails to your computer.
Google Drive, items that don’t take up space are: Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, and files in “Shared with me.” Other files that you store on Google Drive, such as PDF’s, videos, photos, and any file that is not a native Google file… are counted against your allotted space.
Google Photos is often the culprit of consuming Google Drive space because we take a lot of photos that auto upload from your smartphone; and, today’s smartphones take photos that are of “full resolution” quality that are large in file size. A workaround to this is that Google will allow you to store photos, unlimited for FREE, as long as you allow Google to take that “full resolution” quality photo and convert it to a “high quality” photo. To make sure you are allowing Google to make the conversion, on a computer, go to photos.google.com/settings. Make sure “High quality (free unlimited storage) is selected.
If you see that some of your photos is using space, you can click on “Recover Storage” and those photos that are accumulating space will be converted to “High quality” photos. I did this and took an hour or two before I noticed a difference in my drive space. I hadn’t even realized that I had photos (and videos) that were consuming drive space.
I hope what I posted here gives some insight on how Google manages and allocates your drive space. In summary, Gmail emails with large attachments will eat up space; files that are not created by or converted to the Google Doc file formats will eat up drive space; and, photos that you do not allow Google to convert to “high quality” will eat up drive space.
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