We have all been trained to archive every email we receive. After all, we have basically infinite storage, and we can find all the email we need with just a quick search, right? Correct. But it is a trap.
Gmail promised infinite storage, but didn’t keep it
Whether you use Gmail or not, it’s important to understand that the idea of never deleting email was widely popularized by Gmail. Previously, people usually deleted their emails regularly. You had to delete them to free up space so you could receive more emails.
When Gmail was launched in 2004, it was completely shattered. Google’s email service offered 1 GB of free email storage. This put its competitors to shame—the free version of Microsoft Hotmail only offered 2MB at the time.
Yes, Gmail launched with five hundred times more free storage than Microsoft’s email service. It’s no surprise that Gmail became so popular. Its competitors struggled to keep up, but even they added a lot of storage space.
Google kept adding free storage space. In 2005, on the one-year anniversary of Gmail, Gmail’s free storage space was doubled to 2GB. Gmail’s director of product management, Georges Harrick, said the right thing to do is to “keep giving people more space forever.”
Why delete emails when Google will keep giving you more and more storage space until the end of time? As Harik pointed out, as technology advances, storage gets cheaper for Google and everyone else. Sounds good… but Google changed its mind.
Free Google Account Storage Discontinued in 2013
In 2013, Google set a 15 GB storage limit for a free Google Account. That Google Account storage was merged across all Google services: Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. If you store 10 GB of files, you only have 5 GB left for email.
Google hasn’t added any free storage since. In fact, Google is taking away the free storage space it offers for Photos.
If your plan was to ever delete the email and expect Google to increase your account’s storage, it didn’t work out. Your email account has been slowly filling up for the past seven or eight years.
Here’s the thing: Google sells storage as a subscription as part of Google One. If you pay a monthly subscription fee, you get a lot of space to store your emails.
Google isn’t the only company that charges extra for storage. If you’re a paying Microsoft 365 customer, Microsoft’s Outlook.com offers 15 GB of free storage space, which is increased to 50 GB. Apple iCloud email uses your iCloud storage, and Apple only provides 5GB of free storage for all your device backups and iCloud data.
That’s why companies encourage you to never delete an email. They make a profit when your email account is full, and you have to pay for a subscription to store everything.
It’s like a storage locker company that encourages you to never leave your useless junk behind. Of course they want you to keep it – they make a profit when you have to pay to store it forever.
Yes, Those Emails Are Using Too Much Space
But how much space are emails really taking up? Aren’t they small? They’re just text, aren’t they?
Well, if you actually have gigabytes of emails in your account, you know that’s not quite true.
Sure, individual emails are short—but they add up. If your email account is full, you have a lot of space used by useless emails. All those newsletters, notifications, alerts and other junk you’ve received over the years are probably using up a lot of space when you add them up.
For example, if you’re using Gmail, the Google One Storage page shows how much space is used by your Gmail email.
You don’t need most of them, and searching isn’t ideal
How often do you go back and search or view your old emails? Sure, you probably have some important emails you want to keep—but most of them probably aren’t. You don’t need them, and if you clicked “Delete” instead of “Archive” on that useless email newsletter, you might never have noticed.
What’s worse is that having tens or even hundreds of thousands of emails makes it difficult to find emails that are important to you. When you have 200,000 emails lying around, and you’re trying to find an important email from ten years ago, “archive everything and use search to find what you want” gets tough.
Instead of archiving every email you receive, try deleting emails you don’t care about. You’ll free up space, and you won’t have to pay to store useless emails.