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Warning: Your Gmail and Google Drive files could soon be deleted

Remember when you used to keep physical copies of photos? Those were the days. Even just viewing them would require printing them out.

That’s changed quite a bit as technology has advanced. Most smartphones have excellent cameras with multiple lenses these days, and our photos end up in a folder on our desktops rather than a photo album. You can even invest in a digital photo frame to display your images beautifully.

While tech advances like these have made it easier than ever to document trips, funny moments or memories, there are downsides to that equation. Our caches of digital photos can get wiped out with a flick of the wrist — or a closure of an account. That’s what could happen with your Google accounts soon if you aren’t careful. Let’s take a look at what Google has in store — and why.

Keep an eye on your Google Drive — or else

If you’re storing photos in Google Drive, you’re going to want to take note of a new warning. Earlier this month, Google began notifying some users by email that their Gmail, Google Photos and Google Drive content is at risk of being permanently deleted.

RELATED: 15 smart ways to get the most out of Google Drive

This warning states that these users are at risk of losing their content if they don’t adhere to Google’s latest storage capacity rules. The issue stems from users exceeding Google’s new cloud storage policy changes, officially going into effect June 1, 2021.

As part of these changes, any content you create with Google’s services — including your Gmail account, Google Photos or Google Drive — will count against your allotted storage space. Gmail alone can take up a huge chunk of storage space. That means if you’re using a free account and multiple Google services, it’s probably only a matter of time before you fill it.

If you think you might be at risk of deletion because you’re exceeding the new limits, don’t panic. The June 1, 2021 deadline gives you about six months to cut down on your storage usage. Google also says it will notify users multiple times about their storage usage before shutting down their accounts.

Still, this is a big shift from Google’s old content storage policy. Before these changes, Google Photos would let users upload an unlimited number of photos for free. The only caveat was that they had to be saved as high quality instead of original to cut down on storage. You could also get exceptions for certain files.

Not anymore, though. Google users with free accounts only have an allotted 15GBs of free storage space. If you’re using Gmail and Google Drive heavily, you won’t have much room left for storing photos once the changes roll out.

Related: Four simple steps to organize your photo collection

Who’s at risk of having their accounts deleted?

According to Google, “If you’re inactive for 2 years (24 months) in Gmail, Drive, or Photos, we may delete the content in the product(s) in which you’re inactive. If you exceed your storage limit for 2 years, we may delete your content across Gmail, Drive, and Photos.”

That means you are not only at risk of content deletion if you exceed your storage space but also if your account is dormant for two years or more. The upside is you’d have to be dormant or using more storage than allotted for a period of 2 years before Google takes action.

As mentioned, Google will send multiple notices to let you know you violate the new policy. So if you pay attention to your storage uses and note any emails from Google about potential violations, you should have a clear idea of whether you’re at risk of losing your content.

How to avoid having content deleted

It’s pretty simple to stay out of the danger zone with Google, even if the new storage limitations are less than stellar. Basically, you need to keep your account active and stay within your storage allotment.

If you have a ton of photos stored in your Google account, you may want to back up those images to another service, just in case. That’s a good idea to do whether or not you’re at risk of content being deleted.

Alternatives to Google Photos

You can use tons of alternative services if you’re worried about the storage limitations that are rolling out for Google. Dropbox offers a free and simple alternative, though you may need to upgrade your account with Dropbox too if you need a large amount of storage space.

iCloud is another option if you’re an iPhone or Apple user. This service is super easy to use, and there’s even a 50GB per month tier available for just $1 each month. That gives you a lot more space than the Google Photos account will for a nominal fee.

But your best option is our sponsor, IDrive. Back up all your PCs, Macs and mobile devices into ONE account at IDrive.com and use promo code Kim to get 50% off 5 terabytes of cloud storage. That’s less than $35 for the first year and comes with more storage space than most people would need.

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