How to stay below 15 GB in your Google Cloud Drive

Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Amazon Drive… There is no shortage of online storage services, otherwise known as Cloud Drive or Cloud Storage. And almost all of them offer a free plan for those people that cannot or don’t want to pay for online storage. Here’s a small list of the most popular storage providers and their free plans:

  • Google Drive: 15 GB
  • Microsoft OneDrive: 5 GB
  • Dropbox: 2 GB
  • Amazon Drive: 5 GB
  • iCloud: 5 GB
  • Box: 10 GB

Looks like Google Drive is among the ones that offer most space, although there is a catch. Those 15 GB are shared between Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos.

Let’s see what’s the best way to free space up on your online storage so you won’t need to pay for extra space.

Compress your pictures

Image files are probably what’s taking the most space on your drive. Fortunately, we have released a very useful tool just for you: the Archive Optimizer. Let’s see how it works step by step.

Say you got a folder like this on your Drive: 31 images, 38.8 MB.

Unoptimized Google Drive folder on Windows

What you need to do to reduce their size is

  1. Add them all to a .zip file.
  2. Create an account on ShortPixel: https://shortpixel.com/free-sign-up
  3. Login to your account and go to Archive Optimizer
  4. Upload your ZIP file
  5. Click on START UPLOAD
  6. Let ShortPixel do its magic…
  7. And when it’s finished, click on Download.

You will have downloaded a new ZIP file with your images compressed. This new ZIP file will have a prefix “optimized_”. If you check its contents, you’ll see the total size, 9.47 MB! In this example, we just saw a compression of more than 78%:

Optimized Google Drive folder on Windows

The last step will be to replace your unoptimized images with the optimized ones you just downloaded. If you have hundreds or thousands of images, the Archive Optimizer will save you lots of MB or even GB of space!

Clean up your drive

Most of us keep saving everything on the drive because it’s free and because it doesn’t use local space on our computer. But we can almost guarantee that you are saving lots of files that can safely go to the trash. We all do the same, saying “I’ll keep it just in case”, but that “just in case” never comes.

So, take a couple of hours from your weekend and start going over all your files and cleaning up your drive. Some services have tools to see what’s taking most of your space. For example, on Google Drive:

  1. Login to your Google Drive account
  2. Click on Storage
  3. Sort by “Storage used” (for privacy reasons we have hidden the filenames)

There you can see the biggest files. Usually they are movies or ZIP files that can be moved to some external offline storage. In the previous example we can see also some unusually large PDF files.

Dump the trash

Some storage providers do not delete your files immediately. Google Drive and Amazon Drive, for example, used to keep files in the trash forever, but they recently changed that and they automatically remove files sent to the trash more than 30 days ago.

Find out if your storage provider keeps the deleted files forever, and if not, take the trash out every few days!