5 things to do before Google’s data cap hits on June 1

The time has come and the free ride is over. As of Tuesday June 1, 2021 your Gmail messages, Google Drive files, and Google Photos will count against a hard cloud storage limit. No more loopholes, no more ignored files, no more unlimited storage of photos (unless you’re on a Pixel) and documents. Nearly everything counts.

If you haven’t considered what this change means for you yet, it’s a good idea to take a look at your Google Account and make sure you’re ready now that the deadline is looming. We’ve identified five things you should do before Google’s new data cap hits—but first, let’s look at how we got here.

Google ends unlimited photo storage: Details you need to know

Ever since 2013, Google Accounts have had at least 15GB of free cloud storage for Drive files, Gmail, and Google Photos. Then in 2015, Google introduced a new version of Photos that it spun-off the failing Google Plus social network.

The service allowed you to upload photos of 16 megapixels or less without it counting against your unified storage limits. Google called these photos “High quality” and argued that you’d barely notice the difference between the original and a High quality photo—the advantage being that people still had photos that were of a reasonably quality, while Google got to use less cloud storage space to keep them.

Fast forward to 2021, and that High quality loophole is closing for most users. Any images of any quality uploaded to Google Photos now count against the 15GB limit. But that’s only for new photo uploads. Any High quality photos that were uploaded before June 1, 2021 will not count against the new storage limits.

pixel 4a back Michael Simon/IDG

Google-made phones like the Pixel 4a will still be able to upload High-quality photos without them counting against Google’s data cap.

There is, however, one notable exception to this new policy. Owners of a Google Pixel phone (including the affordable Pixel 4a) will still be able to upload High quality images and not have it count against their storage limits.

Beyond your Photos uploads, Google’s data policy remains the same. Anything you have saved in Google Drive counts against the storage limit, including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Jamboard files. Gmail messages also count against your Google Storage limits as before.

If you go over your storage limits then Google will give you a lengthy grace period of 24 months to get your files in order before it starts deleting your stuff. The company says it will send you plenty of warnings before it starts deleting your data.

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