Google Drive is a great service for storing your files and photos. You get 15GB free and if you want or need more storage, you can get an additional 100GB for just $1.99 per month. But let’s suppose for a minute you signed up for 100GB, use about 30GB and decide you want to cancel your subscription? You are 15GB over the free limit so what happens to your files, photos and other things you have stored in Google Drive? In short, not much. It comes down to the service you are using tied to Google Drive but the data that you have there will remain there and not be deleted. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that your Gmail will start bouncing incoming messages.
Let’s deal with Google Drive itself first. If you are over your quota, you won’t be able to upload new files. Period. Equally, syncing between your Google Drive folder on your PC or Mac will stop. But, and critically, you can still create Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides files as they don’t consume any space anyway. It isn’t necessarily a loophole in that the Google apps never used your quota anyway but it certainly is a way to keep on creating documents. But keep in mind that the sync between your computer and your Google Drive stops so any Google Docs files created will only show up online in Chrome. Those PDFs and Microsoft Office files? Yeah, no more uploading and syncing.
An option you would have – which I have done – is to convert your Microsoft Office files to Google. This can be done via the web app or the Android app quite easily. Just open up that Word document then go to File and convert it to Google Docs. You can do the same for Excel files and PowerPoint files. Once you have done your conversions, be sure to go to your Google Drive trash folder and empty it. That will delete the Office files and reclaim your quota. Keep in mind that reclaiming can take up to 24 hours to happen.
Google Photos in many ways functions the same way after you are over your Drive quota as Google Docs. You can continue to upload photos
and videos but can only do so in High Quality. Again, like Google Docs, these compressed photos never cost you any Drive quota anyway, only Original Quality costs quota. Using High Quality photos is a great way to actually save quota without buying more space. If you are shooting photos less than 16MP in size, you won’t see a difference in quality. I have over 35,000 photos stored in Google Photos, all in High Quality, and it is using zero of my Drive space.
Finally, and probably the biggest pain point that will drive you to get under your Google Drive quota is Gmail. Simply put, you won’t get your email. Tada! When you are over your limit, Gmail returns all email to sender (bounces them). If you are dependent on your Gmail as your email of choice, this will get you thinking about how to get under quota. Unlike the Google Docs and Google Photos workarounds, there is no way to get around this one. In fact, even if you setup a forward in Gmail to another email address, it will still bounce the email back to the sender.
The key takeaway in all of this however is that you won’t lose your files or lose access to them. That also means your photos won’t be lost either. Ultimately that is usually everyone’s biggest concern when they go over quota. While you will be hamstrung and effectively cut off from your Gmail, you won’t be cut off from everything in Drive.