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Google is taking all your old free G Suite accounts as hostages
- Google will migrate all G Suite legacy free users to paid Google Workspace accounts.
- There is no provision to fall back to a regular Gmail account.
- Users have until May 1, 2022, to select a plan and must add a billing option before July 1, 2022.
It’s been a long time coming, but Google has finally rung the death knell for G Suite legacy free edition users. Launched back in 2006, the service allowed businesses and schools to set up custom domains for use with Google’s popular Gmail services. Being a free service, Google Apps gained significant popularity amongst enthusiasts as well as businesses.
As part of its G Suite rebrand in 2012, Google shut down the free Google Apps tier. However, it allowed existing users to continue using custom domains without charge. Now, as G Suite gets further integrated into Google Workspaces, Google is finally shutting down G Suite’s legacy free edition.
All users will be transitioned to equivalent Google Workspace accounts based on usage patterns. Plans start at $6-per-month for each user and go all the way up to $18-per-month/user. The move follows Google’s recent trend of removing previously free services, such as the unlimited storage tier for Google Photos.
More importantly, Google is offering no way to opt out of Google Workspace. While you can migrate your data out of G Suite, there is no path — simple or otherwise — to fall back to a regular Gmail account.
What does this G Suite free account change mean for you?
For a service Google initially marketed to appeal to anyone looking to set up a custom domain, this is extremely problematic. Personally, I have two Google Apps accounts including one for use by my family. While I used the account primarily for personal correspondence, the switch over to Google Workspace means I will need to pay at least $30 each month or risk losing almost fifteen years of emails. It is also worth noting that the base plan only includes 30GB of storage. That’s not much. Additionally, the inevitable extra storage we’ve added over the years would add more costs. This adds up to hundreds of dollars every year for the privilege of using a custom domain.
I get that Google is increasingly eyeing businesses for its workspace solutions. However, this is a classic example of a bait and switch. I’d happily pay a small fee per domain for the convenience of using a service Google initially marketed as free were it not for the limitations. Google Workspace users still can’t use Google Pay, nor can the accounts be used for any family memberships including YouTube Premium’s family account. In fact, Google won’t even let you invite other users to a Google Home account that was set up using a Google Workspace ID. Adding further insult to injury, Google Assistant couldn’t even access the calendar for a Google Workspace account until 2019.
It gets worse if you’ve been using features such as Google sign-in. Migrating a custom domain out of Google Workspace would likely mean any app or service users sign into via Google sign-in would fail unless you set up an alternate email ID beforehand.
These legacy G Suite free accounts host not just emails but also years’ worth of calendar entries. There are also Google Photos backups, starred maps for travel, notes, and even browser bookmarks. Taking that data out of G Suite is easy enough, but hosting it elsewhere? Not so much. Unless you migrate to Workspace, you would also likely lose any purchases that you’ve made on the Play Store
Can you opt out of Google Workspace?
All existing users have until May 1, 2022, to select a new Google Workspace plan. After that date, Google will automatically upgrade the user to the most appropriate paid plan. While Google will not bill users for the first two months after the transition, the company will suspend any account without billing details attached after July 1, 2022.
Hey Google, if you expect users to pay for the privilege of using services that were marketed as free for smaller organizations or families, the least you can do is offer the option to migrate to a regular free plan. While you’re at it, how about fixing the shortcomings of Google Workspace to make it worth the monthly fee attached.