This came a surprise to me when I found that I have 15 GB free Google Drive storage. However after digging around the information online and on closer inspection of my account, this was not really an increase but rather a combining of storage from the various storage. Some blogs said the Drive storage account was increased because it felt like you gained 15 GB of Google Drive / Picasa storage and 15 GB of Gmail storage. So let's look at this closer.
Previously, Google Drive and Google+ Photo (or Picasa) has a shared storage of 5 GB while the email service, Gmail has 10 GB of storage capacity. On May 13th, 2013, Google announced that they would merge the storage giving the user a combined total of a whopping 15 GB of cloud storage!
Well it was just an illusion. All users already had 15 GB of storage, just that it was divided into 2 section, your Google Drive account had 5 GB while your Gmail account had 10 GB. So some bright spark in Googleplex said, "Hey, why not merge the limit for the user? The user could then allocate by themselves however they wish on their storage." Sounds like a nifty plan!
Of course it wasn't rolled out to all users in one go, so it took about a month or so to reach my end of the world. When I discovered it, I thought I had an increase in my Google Drive storage. But now after a closer inspection, the merging of the 3 Google services meant I have 15GB of storage and could decide on how I should maintain my storage.
Looking at my usage so far, I have about 1.49 GB worth of files, and 2.9 GB worth of emails, and counting. Since my signup on Gmail, way, way back in 2006, I have not really deleted much of my emails. After all, Google advertised the reason for giving users such a big storage (back then was about 1 GB) was so you don't have to delete your old emails (including all those promotional newsletters that you signed up, etc, etc) and have an archive copy that you could search back in case you need to refer to them in the future. It was a good premise, it did serve its purpose when several times I needed to find some old correspondence to resolve some dispute.
Now with the merging of the 3 services, I should be more selective about keeping my archived copies of my emails. If I want more file and photo storage, I should be a little bit more aggressive in thrashing my less useful emails that I received.
Anyway, there are some services that don't count towards your storage use:
1) Google Docs - creating documents using the provided built in Google Docs format
2) Google+ Photos / Picasa - uploading photos set to the max allowable limit of 2048 (according to width)
Although Google Docs has very basic features, for most users, it was good enough. If you just want to type some letters, create simple spreadsheets, etc. It would suffice. And as for Google+ Photos, if you are not to particular about the reduced size, a pixel width of 2048 still did render the pictures quite adequately. In fact I set up my Android phone for automatic photo backup at this resolution so as not to use up the storage capacity. It was sufficient for my need. But if you were rather particular and would prefer to backup or upload photos in all its full megapixel glory, then you would have to manage your storage capacity well or start purchasing additional storage.
At US$4.99/month for a 100 GB, it's kinda steep for me. So I will just have to satisfy myself with the somewhat lesser megapixel size to avoid the storage count against my usage and reserve the space for my other files.
With so many cloud storage companies around, and if you are not too particular about spreading your files about the various cloud services and installing several software apps in your desktop PC for file sync, you could still amass quite a fair bit of free storage!
For example, sign up with Google Drive for 15GB, Microsoft Skydrive for 7GB, DropBox for 2GB (and if you do some hard work, you can get up to 18GB free storage), Box drive for 5GB, One Ubuntu for 5GB, and many more!
Of course it could get rather confusing with so many cloud storage account, but that's what you would have to do if you were looking into saving your monthly storage cost and still have sufficient storage space for all your stuffs!
Granted each cloud storage has their own features and advantage, so far I found Google Drive storage was the most stable and most convenient and with the added ability to seamlessly view my files on my desktop PC, my tablet and my Android based mobile and of course online.
Of course you could also sign up several Google account to get more storage space, but do note that Google has a automatic account deletion for account that lay dormant for about 9 months, thus you would need to periodically log in to all your accounts to keep them alive. Managing so many accounts be it from the same provider or from the various providers can be tedious and messy. I suppose that's price you have to pay for using free service.
Anyway, with the newly set 15 GB limit merged from the cloud storage and email service, I could now storage more files within the same account, albeit I would need to do a little more managing about my less than useful incoming emails!