How to Reduce Storage Costs and Organize Google Drive

Nov 30, 20204 min read
How to Reduce Storage Costs and Organize Google Drive

Google Drive is a great tool to keep all of your digital files in one place. This makes it very easy to view your documents, images, videos, etc no matter what computer you are on or where in the world you might be. Your files are always available.

Drag and drop to upload files to Google Drive
It's easy to drag and drop files into Google Drive

Google makes it very easy to add files in bulk by simply dragging and dropping files in whatever location you would like to store them. This is great for quickly putting your files in one place. However, Google Drive does not make it easy to quickly reduce your storage space usage. This might have something to do with their business model where they charge more the more files that you store in Google Drive.

Too Many Files?

Up until now, there has not been a great solution to quickly reduce storage costs as Google is designed to make it easy to add files but not remove them. This is where Clean Drive for Google Drive comes in. I created this tool to allow you to reduce your storage costs with Google Drive by helping you organize and remove files that are no longer needed. It is easy for your Google Drive account to become disorganized over time especially when working with a team that may be copying and sharing files amongst each other at work.

Google Drive Costs Keep Increasing

Google Drive storage costs can quickly increase and the time spent organizing your files can increase with them. The cost for Google Drive storage is also expected to go up in the near future as Google recently announced. Google specifically said in the announcement that they plan to charge for Google Docs, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Google Photos, and Gmail as taken from their announcement:

...we're announcing important upcoming storage changes to your Google Account. These changes will apply to Photos and Drive (specifically Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard files) and will enable us to continue investing in these products for the future.

This makes it even more important to have a tool like Clean Drive to reduce the costs associated with using Google Drive.

Confusing Storage Costs

One of the most confusing aspects of Google Workspace (formerly called G Suite) is how the storage usage is calculated. What is often unclear is that it calculates storage costs based on Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos. Google Workspace also counts files that are in the trash against storage usage.

How Does Clean Drive Help?

Clean Drive starts by showing a break down of how the storage space is being used in a Google Workspace account like in the image below:

Chart showing storage usage by,, and free space
Google Drive Storage Summary in Clean Drive

At a quick glance, you will see how your storage is allocated by category. Next, it breaks down how the storage space in Google Drive is specifically being used. It shows a detailed list of all of the different types of files and how much storage space each file type is using. This makes it very easy to determine if a specific type of file (such as videos) is consuming more space than you realized.

Shows storage usage by Documents, Photos & Images, Audio, Video, Archive and other
Example of storage usage broken down by specific file types

You can view each specific file type and see a further breakdown of the storage usage. For example, you might wonder what types of documents are taking up the storage space. If you click on documents you will see a further break-down of the types of documents that are taking up the most space.

Shows storage usage for pdf, xml, msword, etc types of document files in Google Drive
Shows specified storage usage for the Document type of files

In the above graphic, you can quickly see that pdf's are taking up the most space. If you click on pdf, you will be taken to a page with the specific pdfs that are in your Google Drive account.

Shows specific files in your Google Drive account with the storage usage and a preview of each file with bulk delete capabilities
Preview your Google Drive files in Clean Drive and quickly see storage usage

Here you can quickly view: the amount of storage each file is taking, who owns the file, the parent folder for the file, when it was created, and a small or large preview of each file. To remove files that are no longer needed, click the action button to select all the files or specific files for deletion.

Duplicate Files in Google Drive

Yes, Clean Drive will also show you all of your duplicate files. It is as easy as clicking the "duplicate files" link which will quickly show every duplicate file in your account. Removing these duplicate files is also as easy as selecting the oldest or newest created duplicates and clicking "delete".


When you are viewing your duplicate files you can quickly see the folder that the duplicate file belongs to when the file was created, the total storage space that is being used by each file, and who the owner of each file is. Clean Drive makes it easy to delete duplicate files that belong to you as well as files that have been shared with you.

Large Files in Google Drive

Another way to quickly reduce storage usage in Google Drive is to find the files that are consuming the most storage space. Using Clean Drive, simply specify the size of files you'd like to view as seen in the screenshot below. Review the results, select the files you no longer wish to store, and click "delete".

Shows how to easily view all files in Google Drive larger than a specific size
View your Google Drive files larger than # MB

Old Files in Google Drive

The ability to find and remove files older than a specific date is also made possible by Clean Drive. This can come in handy for a variety of situations such as removing tax documents after 7 years or maybe all of your project files from last year. Simply select the age of files you would like to see and then you can easily delete them all at once.

Hidden Files in Google Drive

Most Google Drive users are not aware of the fact that there can be files in their Drive account that are orphaned. This means there is no way to find these files except via searching for the exact name. The most common way a file is orphaned (and consequently hidden) is by placing files in a folder that you are not the owner of (meaning that someone shared it with you). Then if the owner deletes the folder the file you added can get orphaned. It's unfair that Google charges you for the storage space of files that you cannot see. Clean Drive does the work of finding these files for you so you can free up the space of these hidden files or move them into a folder so that they are no longer hidden.