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The End of Infinite Data Storage Can Set You Free

It's time to end the hoarding behavior

In early January, Google sent an email notifying me that I’d used up 76 percent of my account’s free storage space—the 15 gigabytes shared across Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive. I had been vaguely aware that a storage limit did in fact exist and that I might someday reach it, but the notification still caught me off guard. Having lived with the illusion of effectively infinite Google capacity for a decade and a half, I could hardly imagine a world in which I would need to ration my cloud usage and had subconsciously assumed the day would never arrive.

If I failed to get my act together and did exceed my limit, the email informed me, a variety of life-disrupting inconveniences would begin: I wouldn’t be able to send or receive emails, upload files to Drive, create Google Docs, or back up any new photos. I started noticing the ever-present progress bar in the bottom corner of my Gmail window, ticking incrementally toward 100 percent of my limit (and adding a new layer of anxiety to an interface that already generates plenty).

In the same email, of course, Google offered me an easy way out, encouraging me to simply pay for a Google One storage plan—a mere $1.99 per month for 100 gigabytes, or $2.99 for 200. But reaching a personal free storage ceiling and having to pay for more, however inexpensive it is, marks a perceptual transition, an acknowledgment that the “cloud” is yet another finite resource distributed across physical servers, not an immaterial ether that can absorb exponentially growing amounts of information at no cost. And if Google eventually charges more for storage, we will almost certainly keep paying without thinking twice. Most likely, we won’t have much of a choice.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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