Google offers a suite of applications that can be used for free, depending on the amount of functionality and storage space you need. There are several benefits to using applications like these, one of which is an application called Google Drive. We talked about data backup in a recent article, but this one will go into more detail about one of the solutions.

Google Drive: What is it?

Google Drive is essentially a file storage and synchronisation application that is owned and managed by Google, in the cloud. Anybody can create an account and store files within the Google Drive service. Below, we’ve listed out just a few of the benefits to using Google Drive.

Work from anywhere

Storing information such as documents in the cloud, as opposed on a hard drive, means that you can always access them remotely, if you have an internet connection. If you regularly work from various locations, this can be preferential to carrying around the files on a memory pen or similar.


File sharing can be tricky if not versioned properly, especially during group collaboration. This isn't a problem with Google Drive; you can collaborate with other people using the application, even working on the same version of a document at the same time, in real-time. You can also manage who has access to do what.

File backup

Aside from the benefit of Google having robust security, your files are also more secure owing to the fact that they are backed up in the cloud. Even if something were to happen to your computer's hard drive, or you were to lose your memory pen, you would still have a synchronised copy of the file on your Google Drive account.

Free or paid-for?

Storage in Google Drive won't cost you a penny up to a certain limit. All users get a default limit of 15 GB of storage when creating a Google account, which is split amongst Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos. For £1.59 a month, you can upgrade to 100 GB, or for £7,99 you can get 1 TB (1 Terabyte, or 1,000 GB). Though you'll unlikely need it as an individual, there's also a £79.99 monthly plan for 10 TB. Most people won’t need more than the standard 15 GB of storage, but even the cheapest option is reasonably-priced.

How to optimise storage in Google Drive

So, you’ve got yourself a Google Drive account and it’s filling up fast, but you don’t want to shell out any money for one of the paid-for plans. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to optimise your Drive’s storage, as we will detail below.

Step 1: Check your Drive status

To determine how much of your Drive space is being used up, you can go to the Google Drive storage page, which breaks down your allocated space into a chart. This indicates what is being used up already. The page will also show you what plan you're using and how much space is still available. Though you can upgrade your storage plan on this page, you should at least see whether you can optimise it first.

Step 2: Determine what’s taking up space

Though you can store a lot of file types inside of your Google Drive, not everything will count towards your 15 GB of storage. If you're using the Google-branded word processor, 'Google Docs', or the Microsoft Excel imitation, 'Google Sheets', then any files created in these programs won't be taking up space.

However, if you have a Gmail (Google e-mail) account, your emails will count towards your storage allocation. When it comes to photos and videos, things are a little more complicated; only photos with a resolution greater than 2,048×2,048 are counted, and only videos longer than 15 minutes.

Step 3: Clean up your Google Drive storage

Open your Google Drive space and look for an option in the bottom-left corner of your screen, which should say 'Buy more storage'. If you hover your mouse cursor over this option without clicking on it, you'll see a breakdown of storage usage. Click on the 'Drive' option to open a breakdown of all your stored files, listed in descending size order under the term 'Quota used'.

Once you know what is taking up the greatest space, you can make a judgement call on whether you need the file anymore, or whether it can be cleared out. That said, if you’re a heavy user of Gmail and know that your inbox is packed full of old, read emails, you might want to go in and empty out anything that isn’t needed. Though email file sizes are typically reasonably small, the total storage can soon add up if you have thousands of old emails.

WiseGuys Data Backup

It's worth remembering that even cloud services can have issues, meaning your data isn't 100% guaranteed secure at all times on Google's servers. Additionally, you might end up needing more storage, which is going to cost you.

If you're going to be paying for cloud backup anyway, then you might want to speak to WiseGuys about the storage plans that we have for your data. Unlike Google, our plans are unlimited, and we also offer support for all your devices, from computers to smartphones. You can reach us on 0808 123 2820.