Here is what happens when you run out of Google Storage space

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 8, 2021

As a Google customer, you do get 15 Gigabytes of storage space for free. The storage space is shared across several of Google's products, including Google Mail (GMail), Google Photos and Google Drive. Customers who have been with Google for a long time may have received permanent extra storage in some occasions, but most are stuck with 15 Gigabytes.

It is not uncommon that Google customers use multiple company products, e.g. an Android smartphone or tablet and a Gmail account, which customers may create conveniently when they set up their Android devices.

On Android, photos may be synced with Google's cloud storage; this is convenient, as it serves as a backup of sorts and makes photos and video accessible on other devices. It may also turn into a problem, as storage space may run out eventually if syncing is enabled.

Last year, Google announced that it would end free unlimited Google Photos storage on June 1, 2021 for nearly everyone. Up until then, uploads did not count against the Google storage quota under certain conditions. Only Google Pixel 1 to 5 device owners are exempt from this.

Photos and videos uploaded prior to June 1, 2021 don't count towards the storage limit.

Storage may fill up quickly because of the changes, and this will have consequences for the entire account, not only for Google Photos storage.

Since storage is shared between multiple Google services, running out of storage impacts all of these services.

Here is what happens when you run out of storage in your Google account:

  • Gmail: you can't send or receive messages anymore.
  • Google Drive: new files can't be synced anymore, and new file uploads don't work either. New files can't be created.
  • Google Photos: new photos or videos are not synced anymore.

In other words: if you run out of storage, e.g. by syncing too many photos and videos, Gmail will be affected negatively.

15 Gigabytes of storage may sound like much, but it is not really that much if you use Google Photos a lot, e.g. by taking videos or photos on your Android device regularly and have sync enabled.

display google storage

Tip: you may visit Google's Storage website to see how much space you have left. The page lists each Google Service and how much space it uses.

Here are your options to resolve issues caused by Google storage space hitting the limit:

  1. Remove photos, videos, files and other content from the Google products using the websites of these products, e.g. the Google Photos site. We recommend that you back up the files prior to deleting them, which you can do using Google's Takeout tool.
  2. Subscribe to a storage plan to increase your storage; this is Google's main motivation for making the storage changes.

Now You: Are you a Google customer? How much free space do you have?

Here is what happens when you run out of Google Storage space
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Here is what happens when you run out of Google Storage space
Here is what is happening when you run out of Google Storage space (it is bad).
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  1. the party pooper said on July 11, 2021 at 8:39 am

    People will learn what the cloud is when they simply go learn what it is:

    It’s not that complicated or misleading.

  2. the editor said on July 11, 2021 at 7:55 am

    @Martin Brinkmann

    This is a well written article. Thanks!

  3. Adam Smith said on July 10, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    When will people learn
    The Cloud is just a misleading term which simply refers to a company’s server

    Surely we all know that you never store anything on a free storage site
    Countless times in the past we have seen free cloud space get taken away
    Often the company suddenly wants to charge you, or the company goes bust

    The free Cloud will always have hidden traps

  4. BM said on July 9, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    @Anonymous… any anti-Microsoft bias there? There is no need to troll.

    Look, it is ALL “paid (-for) storage” ultimately. The model is “freemium” – it is subsidized by both/either advertising and subscribers – depending on the provider.

    So, this stuff about “fanboi” is irrelevant. Seriously! Exact same idea could be said of Google Drive “fanboi”s, when compared to Mega (20 GB) or, even better, Degoo (100 GB free!! – – for $10/mo, you get 10TB vs Google’s 2TB).

    People are free to choose what works for them. There are many factors other than just price or capacity that appeal to people. Easy to set up multiple accounts of any one service, or of multiple services.

    1. Anonymous said on July 10, 2021 at 9:13 am

      Dear DM, yes you must me a Microsoft fanboi to decide to go from 15 gb free storage to 5 gb (3 times less) storage just because it’s the microsoft logo on it.
      Onedrive doesn’t offer anything better to free users. Is onedrive faster and most reliable than google drive? No. Is onedrive’s photos better than google photos? Hell no.
      There is no reason for somebody to go from google drive to onedrive unless he is a microsoft fanboi because onedrive offers less than google drive.
      There are reasons to leave google drive for mega and degoo because they offer more to him, in fact they should switch to mega, it’s reliable, fast and offers more than google drive.
      Unfortunately degoo is not that reliable and fast, I would switch to it and use that sweet 100 gb for free.
      But not onedrive, they offer nothing more for switching to it, only a fanboi would choose less because he likes the microsoft logo lol.
      I know, I am hurting your feelings but onedrive offers less to free users than google drive, and a free user would choose less only for fanboism reasons.

      1. Sameer Ghanizada said on July 11, 2021 at 8:31 am


        Ha, that’s funny! Are you still doing comedy gigs in Kabul?

      2. Anonymous said on July 11, 2021 at 11:54 am

        Dear BM, Sameer Ghanizada, MS fanboi, whatever name you choose, it is what it is.
        Billions of people just use some GB in the cloud for backing up their documents and photos.
        With 2-3 google accounts and 2 mega accounts they have around 100 GB and are fine with that storage. Both mega and google allow this since they support switching between that number of accountswith a click in any browser.
        Yes, all these people if they want just some gb for important backups there is no reason to pay nobody and can get it with paying anything. Most people don’t need TBs.
        So it’s freemium only in your head, because you are obsessed to pay Microsoft.
        Onedrive is the worst choice for these people.
        Now if they decide to pay for their photos, there is no reason to choose Microsoft.
        Why on earth somebody would somebody want to switch from the superior google photos to onedrive basic photo support?
        Because BM, Sameer Ghanizada is a MS fanboi?
        Now, about your rasist comments against people who live in Kabul or for people who don’t want to pay Microsoft, I am not going to solve your rasist complex, it’s not my job to do this, that’s a job of professional therapists.

  5. Anonymous said on July 8, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    Google can shove it. I’m not paying to be the product. They can’t have it both ways. Also, if your account is terminated because they decide so, you lose everything. Never rely on these tech companies with your data.

  6. Gerold Manders said on July 8, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    Same here, The only service from Google that I use is GMail. Have done that since the beginning, when it still was an invite-only service.

    Unfortunately, I have never been able to throw away any mail. Sure, I used the available buttons and functionality from GMail, and the mail messages do not appear anymore. However, the used space counter never reduces and when I log out and back in again, the messages I deleted are back.

    The moment I noticed this, I have been using the account for garbage purposes only.

  7. BM said on July 8, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    I’d like to add a third option:

    Open another free Google (or Outlook) account and migrate your less used files there, as they come with cloud storage. Just a bit more hassle to use.

    Microsoft’s OneDrive integrates nicely with desktop Windows OS, imho, making it more convenient for those of us less dependent on mobile devices.

    1. Anonymous said on July 9, 2021 at 10:52 am

      If people need to pay they will just pay 2 dollars for the exta 100 gb.
      That’s what they want, not to pay. onedrive is reality is only a paid storage.
      The 5 gb they give in onedrive is a joke. Not even a Microsoft fanboi would limit himself to 5 gb when google gives triple.

  8. SmoothTalker said on July 8, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    Looks like the gloves have come off.

  9. Yuliya said on July 8, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    0.34 GB of 15 GB used
    Google Drive 0 GB
    Gmail 0.34 GB
    Google Photos 0 GB
    My phone has 256GiB internal memory + 512GiB SD card. I never used, or will ever use the “cloud” meme.

    1. SmoothTalker said on July 8, 2021 at 5:23 pm

      Jokes on you, ghacks is hosted behind Cloudflare. Meaning they see your IP and comments.

      Any DDoS protection service is essentially an MITM proxy, but touché. Just commenting that I already disproved it.

      >b-but the cloud as in file hosting

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