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Google backtracks on G Suite closures with a free alternative

Free G Suite users can keep their data in the cloud after all, says search giant

The G Suite logo displayed on a smartphone

Google has walked back a promise to kill off legacy free G Suite accounts entirely, and will instead offer a free alternative allowing users to keep their data while losing some G Suite features.

Google announced by email earlier this month that it would give those with free G Suite accounts until 1 May to upgrade their plans to a paid subscription. Those that didn't do so would lose access to most of its services beginning on July 1.

The move, which would not apply to non-profit or educational organizations, came ten years after the company stopped offering free G Suite accounts.

G Suite - now called Workspace - allowed users to host Google accounts on custom domains for multiple users. The company offered people the ability to set up these accounts for free in 2006 until 2012. Users who created these accounts during that period were allowed to keep them, until its policy change this month.

The new rules originally left free users with the option of either upgrading to a paid Workspace account or exporting their data via Google's Takeout tool. Takeout allows them to download their data, although this makes it difficult to transfer to an alternative cloud provider and also removes file metadata. The future of paid content purchased under a free account was also in danger.

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Now the company has relented, adding a section to its support page that promises more options for people to keep their data for free.

"This new option won't include premium features like custom email or multi-account management," the company said. "You'll be able to evaluate this option prior to July 1, 2022 and prior to account suspension. We'll update this article with details in the coming months."

Google's support page now invites free G Suite account owners with ten users or less to fill out a feedback form. It will then contact them in the next few months.

The company added that those not upgrading to a paid account will still have access to paid content purchased with a legacy account, such as movies bought via Google Play.

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