Google reminded us again of the terrible, inevitable truth of cloud storage and services. You cannot depend on any one company to hold your data forever. Allowing your photos and videos and whatever other files you’ve got resting in Google’s servers, be it in Google Drive, Google Photos, or even Gmail – Google holds the keys. Google made the case for downloading and/or keeping your files to yourself multiple times over the past year – now’s the time to exit.
The most recent update to Google cloud storage policies appeared this week courtesy of a blog post. Google Workspace Vice President Jose Pastor and Google Photos Vice President Shimrit Ben-Yair published an article on November 11th, 2020. In this article, they announced a change for “inactive” accounts and accounts over their storage limit.
After June 1, 2020, the following rules are in play for Google Drive*, Gmail, and Google Photos:
• If you’re inactive in one or more of these services for two years (24 months), Google may delete the content in the product(s) in which you’re inactive.
• Similarly, if you’re over your storage limit for two years, Google may delete your content across Gmail, Drive and Photos.
*Google Drive includes storage for Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Jamboard. Google’s best advice for keeping your files from being deleted from inactivity is to “periodically visit Gmail, Drive or Photos on the web or mobile, while signed in and connected to the internet.”
This is just the latest in a set of revelations from Google this year as they transition from a sort of loss-leader “get them in the door first” model to a model that acknowledges that everything – even “free” cloud storage – has its price. You’ll still get that 15GB Google suggests for cloud storage across Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive, but beyond that, Google’s dropping the hammer.