How Google charges customers twice for the same data

Photo by Philip Veater on Unsplash

My Google Drive is running out of free storage.

That ominous little progress bar has gone red, accompanied by the obligatory invite to pay Google for more.

Until today, I couldn’t work out why my Google Drive was so full. Yes, I use my Gmail inbox like a breathing archive, only deleting email that I’m certain I’ll never need again. But that doesn’t take up 16GB of space.

Trying to work out what’s gobbling through your Drive storage is something of a challenge. Clicking on that red storage warning is no help, and Google doesn’t let you sort files by file size (at least, not in the web browser). It’s almost as if Google would prefer you don’t delete anything so they can charge you for it. But it’s actually worse than that.

If you click on the cog in the main Google Drive window and click Settings, you arrive at a screen where — at last — Google lets you “view items taking up storage”.

When I click on that link, it becomes clear that the files taking up all the space in my Google Drive aren’t “my” files at all — they’re files I’ve uploaded to the shared Google Drive of the magazine that I work for, PC Pro.

Literally none of the files listed below are actually stored in my personal folders, they’re all in the magazine’s shared storage — space that the magazine pays for separately.

Yet, they are also being deducted from my free storage allowance, because I’m designated as the “owner”.

If I delete the file to reclaim storage space, it’s also deleted from the magazine’s share.

This is, frankly, outrageous. The magazine pays Google a hefty whack to store all its files in the cloud, yet contributors who upload files to that store are effectively ‘charged’ for the same storage. Google isn’t keeping two copies of the file on its servers, but it’s double accounting for them — deducting them from the magazine’s storage allocation and mine.

I’m far from the only person to butt up against this problem. A long thread on the Google support forums reveals lots of people complaining about the same scenario. And as well as hurting the end user, it’s also hurting the companies paying stiff fees for storage, who are Google’s best customers. This from one of the forum’s contributors:

This is incredibly frustrating my attorney upgraded to 1TB and I still can’t upload 1.5Gigs to his shared folder made for me to send documents. Wow man. This is so screwed.

It certainly is. I’m not paying Google for storage that I don’t need, but pretty soon I won’t be able to upload files to the paying Google customer I work for (the magazine) — unless I set up another free Google account specifically for that task. What a ludicrous state of affairs.

Freelance writer, editor and photographer. More at:

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