This week Google launched an update to its online storage service. It’s called Google One, and it gives Google users a single bucket of storage that they can use to keep photos, files, and Gmail messages in the cloud.

Every user gets 15GB for free. Every now and then Google gives out some bonus storage for completing tasks like performing a security checkup or buying a Chromebook. And if you need more storage plans start at $2 per month (or $20 per year) for 100GB of storage.

Glancing at my account details, I was starting to think I was going to have to sign up for that plan: I was using 21GB of storage out of the 119 allotted to my account… but I was going to lose 100GB when a Chromebook promotional credit expires in January.

It turns out all I had to do was empty my trash bin to bring my total down to 13GB.

Like most desktop operating systems, Google’s cloud services don’t actually get rid of emails, files, or photos when you delete them. It sends them to a trash bin.

That’s useful, because it makes it easy to recover files you’ve accidentally deleted. But it turns out you have to manually empty the trash bin for Google Drive from time to time.

Gmail and Google Photos do this automatically. Anything left in your Gmail trash bin for more than 30 days will be deleted. Anything in your Google Photos trash pile will disappear after 60 days.

But when I went to empty my Google Drive trash today I noticed files that have been sitting there for more than two years.

Manually emptying my Gmail and Google Photos trash today freed up a little space. Emptying my Google Drive trash bin freed up almost 8GB, which means I don’t need to look for more stuff to delete and I don’t need to upgrade to a paid plan.

Oh, and if you’re running low on Google storage, another place to check is your Google Photos settings: while Google offers unlimited photo storage for “high quality” images that that have been compressed, you also have the option of uploading images at “original” quality, but that’ll eat into your storage space (unless you have a Google Pixel device, in which case images uploaded from your camera roll for the first few years after you buy the phone will be saved at original quality).

You can find this option by visiting, Clicking the hamburger menu on the left side of the screen, and clicking the Settings option when it pops up.

If you’re having trouble finding the trash bins, Google also has instructions for permanently deleting items from your trash in:

What about you? When’s the last time you emptied your Google Drive trash bin?

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2 replies on “Have you emptied your Google Drive trash lately?”

  1. I did some housecleaning last week, dropping Google Drive space utilization from nearly 10 Gb to 6.2 Gb after deleting a lot of old Gmails with large attachments.

    1. Gmail tip: To find large e-mail messages, use Gmail’s search function with the size: attribute. For example, size:5m will find messages that are larger than 5 MB in size.

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