Do you have storage overkill?

If you have more than two of these: Dropbox, Google, Box, an external hard drive, and Apple Storage, you’re paying way too much for storage you can never fill. And you’re paying every one of those bills.

Remember when your hard drive would fill up? Today, storage is plentiful. My first laptop had 10GB of storage. I challenge you to find a thumb drive that small today. Many of us have the digital equivalent of cable TV’s “Hoarders” show in the cloud. Each of those services ranges from $2.99 to $20 bucks a month. Cutting out just a few will save you a few hundred a year. That several beers, a bunch of drinks with umbrellas in them, or a monthly payment on a sports car.

You won’t just save money–you’ll save sanity. Think of all the docs, files, and photos you lose.

“Did I put that in the Apple Cloud or Dropbox?” When you can’t find anything and you’re paying for the privilege of losing your stuff, it’s time to take a step back.

How much storage do you have? And what do you really need?

How much storage are you paying for? With subscriptions on autorenew, it’s easy to lose track. Here are three places to hunt:

  1. Get your credit card statements out and scan them. You’ll pick off all the autorenews for storage. (While you’re at it, look for other renewing subscriptions you don’t use. Kill them without mercy!).
  2. Then, look through all your used and dead email accounts. Gmail accounts come with storage free. Are you paying for extra on any of those accounts?
  3. Now, look through your apps folder and cloud services to list out any Dropbox, Box, Cloud and any other storage.


Then, add up the prices. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? Here’s what some of them cost:

Right now, Google is free until you hit the 15 GB limit. After that, plans are $1.99 for 100GB, $2.99 for 200GB, $9.99 for 2TB, and up from there. But if you need to go upwards fo 2TB, we need to have a talk. It’s time to declutter your stuff.

Dropbox upgraded their plan–and their price. They give you 2Tb of storage for $119/year or $11.99/month.

Box is $5/month for 2GB storage and $15/month for unlimited storage.

The cheapest way to have the most storage:

Choose the one or two places you use most. Store your files there. Then, back up the most precious ones offline on an external hard drive. This gives you redundancy (backups in multiple places so you’re not relying on one single point of failure that could go down or be hacked). It also gives you an offline copy in case the zombie apocalypse happens and your internet goes down. You’ll still have access to your files.

Once you decide on your favorite storage places, you can cancel the rest. Then, you’ll only have to pay the bill for one or two instead of three to five like many people have. Most streaming services give you a discount if you pay annually instead of monthly. If you know you’re a long-term customer, do this. If you think you might try a service and bail, don’t.

Sometimes you feel you have to go with one service. If your family dumps photos into Dropbox, you may need it. Since you probably collaborate across Google, that has to stay. Rank the platforms and storage you use most. Those are in the “keep” pile. Then, target and eliminate the rest.

Box was one for me. Box is a consumer and business grade storage company. It’s great. But, I don’t use it. Every once in a while someone’ll send me a document via Box. To access it, I need a Box account. I made one once to get some tax docs and it was almost impossible to shut down. So, now, I say this, “I don’t use Box. Please send that via email.” I treat

Keep what you need, and start the elimination games from there.

Divide and conquer with Google.

Since you probably have multiple Gmail accounts, including a couple junk ones for subscriptions, you can take full advantage of the 15GB free space for each. Compartmentalize.

Work docs go in the work accounts and personal docs go to your personal account. The most important docs can go to the account you use most or to a secret, secured account, depending on how you operate your privacy and online security. Chances are you won’t need pay for storage with Google, but if you do, it’ll be minimal.

Just say “no.”

If someone sends you a link that requires you to sign up for a service you canceled, don’t want, or no longer use, say “no.” That happens to me with work. People send me a link for a doc folder in a main service I don’t use, since I use the competition.  The first time, I signed us up for an account, downloaded the docs during the free trial, and tried to cancel. It was nearly impossible. We got billed for two months.

Now, I say this, “I don’t use that service and it makes you sign up. Please send this via email.”  It’s fairly easy to download the contents of a folder. If it’s too big, the sender can zip it, and I’ll take care of the rest on my end.

Photo storage

You can use the storage that goes with your phone (Apple or Google), or, you can hold out, refuse to sync, and back photos up to a hard drive. If you do, back up that hard drive. Most have a shelf life of 3-5 years. Dropbox also has a feature for cameras and SD cards (ie: DSLRs) where it’ll automatically send your photos there.  This is easy, syncs across devices, and is easy enough to download as a folder if you choose to remove your photos. But, if you shoot RAW (a big photo file that has the most data possible) as I do, it’l take up a ton of space. And, if you’re doing video, even more.

Then, there are whole computer backups.

It’s important to have your system backed up–at least once. Apple has Time Machine that backs up the system automatically, and there are online services like Carbonite that’ll do it, too. You need a reliable and consistent backup of your system or a way to recover key files. If your files autosync to Dropbox, you may feel you don’t need a daily system backup.

The sky’s the limit for pricing. Your end goal is this. You want to be able to access and use your files if anything happens. You don’t want a seventeen swear restoration if you get hijacked for ransomware or your dog spills coffee on your laptop. Do inventory of your files, make sure you have at least one backup, preferably two, and anything above and beyond–get rid of.

Don’t pay for duplicate storage. Organize your storage so it doesn’t run out, yet it backs up what you need so your next backup emergency is only a minor inconvenience.

Photo by Vincent Botta on Unsplash