Use it or Lose it: Google Warns Users of Drive, Photos and Other Services

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The days of unlimited and infinite free services from Google seem to be coming to an end, as the company has warned its users to “use it or lose it” with products such as Drive and Photos, as well as other free Google services.

Google delete: You may lose stuff if you don’t log in and visit your files

Google announced a new storage policy on Wednesday, warning users of its Drive and Photos products that it may delete files if they are neglected too long. What this means is that you need to login to Drive or Photos (or a number of their other services you may be signed up for) every now and then if you want to keep your account active and prevent Google from dumping your stuff.

In other words, the notion that Google first put in our heads that we can upload our stuff for long term storage and think it’s going to be safe there, for free, as long as the company exists is no longer valid.

Change is coming to a number of Google services on storage limits

The company gave some specifics in a blog post about the upcoming changes, which are going into effect on June 1, 2021.

“We’re introducing new policies for consumer accounts that are either inactive or over their storage limit across Gmail, Drive (including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard files) and/or Photos to better align with common practices across the industry,” Google explained Google in a blog post. “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.”

Mashable reports that, while Google has given more detail on its support page over the forthcoming policies, the information is still vague.

How to keep your data active and prevent deletion

“The simplest way to keep your data active is to periodically visit Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive (and/or collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Jamboard and Sites) on the web or through an official Google app,” explains the support page. “Make sure you’re signed in and connected to the internet.”

Mashable points out that there is a “key phrase” that Google mentions that you must pay attention to. Google says you must log in “through an official Google app.” In other words, checking into your account through a third-party app or website won’t cut it.

Lastly, Google, at least for now, is claiming that before deleting your files, the company will warn users “using email and notifications.” Google further claims that it will send notifications “at least three months” before a user has reached the two-year mark of neglect.