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On Monday, Google extended that policy merger into the product realm. The company broke down the wall that separated Gmail from Drive and Google+ Photos. Henceforth, Google users have access to 15 GB of free online storage that covers Gmail, Drive and Google+ Photos. Previously, Gmail came with 10 GB of free storage and Drive and Google+ Photos collectively came with 5 GB.
The combined free storage pool puts an end to Google's previous practice of slowly increasing Gmail storage over time. But Google product management director Clay Bavor insists separate storage doesn't make any sense anymore.
"With this new combined storage space, you won't have to worry about how much you're storing and where," Bavor explained in a blog post. "For example, maybe you're a heavy Gmail user but light on photos, or perhaps you were bumping up against your Drive storage limit but were only using 2 GB in Gmail. Now it doesn't matter, because you can use your storage the way you want."
[ What will we see out of Google's developer conference? Read Google I/O 2013 Preview. ]
That's as long as you want to use less than 15 GB of storage all told. If you want to use more space, you have the option to buy more, at a rate of $5 per month per 100 GB. The maximum amount of storage Google offers is 16 TB, for $800 per month.
As a point of reference, Amazon.com currently sells 1 TB hard drives for less than $80. Also, Microsoft Skydrive offers 7 GB free to new users.
The change affects Google's business customers, too. Google Apps users will have 30 GB of unified storage that's shared between Gmail and Drive.
The Google Drive storage page doesn't yet reflect the company's new pricing, but Google says it plans to update the page soon. The altered storage scheme affects consumers immediately. Google plans to roll out the changes to its Rapid Release business customers in the coming weeks.
For Apps users, one exception to Google's storage quota still remains: Google does not count files created in Docs against storage limits.