How to Check Your Google Storage Quota

Messages, documents, and even trash take up more space than you think

Google allows users to store up to 15 GB of data per account. This amount might seem generous, but photos, old messages, plus documents stored on Google Drive use up space quickly. Here's what's included in the storage limit, how to find out how much of your allotted Google storage space you're using, and how much space you have available.

Person checking their storage on Gmail
Derek Abella / Lifewire

What Counts Toward the Google Storage Limit

Before you learn how to check your Google data quota, it's helpful to know what's included in it and what's not.

This information pertains to any desktop user, whether you're a paying Google One subscriber or you're using only free storage.

Your Gmail Account

Each email message has a small data footprint, but you probably have many messages stored in your account. Additionally, some messages have attachments that take up additional space.

These factors add up, which is true for any email service, but especially so for Gmail. Google makes it easier to archive than to delete emails, so messages that you think you deleted might be archived and using up space.

Google Drive

Everything in your Google Drive counts toward your 15 GB allotment, including downloads, documents, spreadsheets, and all the other items you store there. This means that your Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Jamboard files all count toward your free 15 GB storage allotment.

Google Photos

Before June 2021, Google allowed unlimited storage of what it termed "High-Quality" photos (now called the "Storage Saver" tier). Currently, however, any photos you store, no matter what their quality or size, count toward your free 15 GB storage allotment. To save space, opt for "Storage Saver" when storing your photos instead of storing them in their original, uncompressed format.

Google lists out some exceptions on its support site.

Check Your Storage Usage

To find out how much storage space your data occupies and how much you have left, visit the Google One site and select Storage. If you're logged into your Google account, you'll see a line graph that shows how much space you've used (in a variety of colors) and how much space is available (in gray).

Google One Storage showing storage usage and availability

Using Gmail

You also can get a quick idea of how much space remains directly from your Gmail account. On any Gmail page, scroll to the bottom, then find the current online storage usage on the left, toward the bottom.

Gmail page with available storage highlighted

What Happens With Gmail if the Storage Limit Is Reached?

As soon as the amount of data you're using reaches a certain threshold, Gmail displays a warning in your inbox. After three months of being over quota, Gmail displays the message, "You can't send or receive emails because you're out of storage space."

At this point, you're able to access all messages in your account, but you can't send or receive new emails. To resume normal service, reduce the amount of data in your account to below the storage quota.

When accessing the account through IMAP, you might not receive an error message and you may be able to send messages via SMTP (from an email program). That's because using email this way stores the messages locally (on your computer), rather than exclusively on Google servers.

While the account is over quota, anyone who sends an email to your Gmail address will receive an error message that says something like, "The email account you are trying to reach has exceeded its quota."

The sender's email service will usually keep trying to deliver the message every few hours for a specified amount of time. If during that time, you reduce the amount of storage you're consuming so that it's again within Google quota limits, the message will eventually be delivered. If not, however, the mail server will give up and bounce the email. The sender will receive the message, "The message could not be delivered because the account you are trying to reach has exceeded its storage quota."

What Happens to Your Files When You're Over the Limit

If your Google Drive is over the storage limit for two years, Google may delete your content, including your photos, Gmail messages, and files in Google Drive. Google will notify you multiple times if deleting your content is a possibility, so you'll have plenty of warning.

Similarly, if your Gmail, Google Drive, or Photos accounts are inactive for two years, Google may delete your content. If you're concerned about an inactive account, visit the Inactive Account Manager to designate a trusted contact and manage your settings.

Add or Reduce Storage Space

If you only have a few megabytes of storage left, you can do one of two things: acquire more space or reduce the amount of data in your account.

To increase your storage space, you can purchase up to 30 TB more from Google to share between Gmail and Google Drive.

An easy way to reduce your storage is to use Google's free Storage Manager on the web or built into the Google One app. This tool easily guides you through deleting emails that have been moved to the Trash but haven't been permanently deleted, deleting spam emails, permanently deleting trashed files, removing large attachments and files, and removing files Google can't open.

With the Storage Manager, you don't have to hunt down large files to delete or try to figure out where email attachments are. Select a category, choose files to delete, and free up space.

Google's Manage your account storage page

How to Empty Trash in Google Drive

If you've deleted files and attachments to free up space, be sure to empty the Trash in Google Drive.

  1. Open Google Drive.

  2. In the left panel, toward the bottom, select Trash.

  3. Near the top of the window, select Empty Trash.

    Google Drive with Trash and Empty Trash highlighted
  4. Select Delete Forever to confirm.

Deleting messages from your Gmail account is a two-step process. Selecting Delete on a batch of messages puts them in your Trash folder. Make sure you empty it afterward.

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