Free Email is a thing of the past

Google’s finally killing free legacy G Suite accounts

Reported by RYNE HAGER of Android Police

Good luck moving your purchases to a new account if you don’t want to pay a subscription

Google Graveyard hero

Long ago, Google used to offer free Google Workspace (AKA Google Apps, AKA G Suite) plans for custom domains, letting anyone enjoy things like Gmail and other service integrations like Google’s single sign-on and Drive through their very own URL. Google axed that too-good deal back in 2012, but those already on it were grandfathered in. Or, they were until now. Google is killing its “G Suite legacy free edition” plan entirely later this year.

In case you weren’t plugged in back then, Google’s offered its accounts for custom domains since the mid-aughts, giving you most of the benefits of a Google account, but tied to your own URL. It even had a free tier for a while, though it got rid of that in 2012. Those with a free plan managed to keep it, though, and plenty of people (including AP’s Artem) continued to use them. They didn’t always have the same feature options available as standard accounts. But, come May 1st, those old free plans are going away entirely.

Customers with the legacy grandfathered plan have a handful of options. They can either choose a paid subscription among the standard Google Workspace plans or fire up a standard Gmail account and switch to that. If you don’t, Google will automatically upgrade subscriptions “based on the features you currently use” on May 1st, though you’ll have to set up Google Workspace billing for that to happen — Google’s not just charging people out of the blue. Customers that upgrade may also receive a discount for their first year of paid service, and emails are being sent to admins with specific steps.

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If you don’t upgrade your account, Google will “suspend” it — that means you’ll still have access to it for another 60 days, but after that, many services will stop working. You can restore your suspended account by coughing up the dough for a paid subscription.

The minimum cost before any potential discounts is currently $6 a month for a Business Starter plan with 30GB of account storage. There’s also a “personal” tier that’s $8 a month on promotion right now, but it seems to be tied to Gmail accounts, which could be a problem for those using the legacy, free accounts on a custom domain.

Google has a reasonably extensive FAQ set up regarding this change, with one notable omission: What happens to customers that don’t want to pay for a Google Workspace account but want to keep purchases and subscriptions tied to that account? We may think of Google Workspace as being for work — it’s right there in the name, after all — but lots of people (including many of our readers) used the free G Suite legacy accounts on a custom domain as their personal accounts. So far as we know, there’s no way to migrate purchases for things like Google Play content or grandfathered subscriptions for things like YouTube Music between accounts.

For customers that set up free custom accounts back in 2006 with “Gmail for your Domain”, there could be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of Play Store purchases tied to them, given the almost two decades they’ve been in use. Unfortunately, Google seems to be leaving them with just two choices: Upgrade to a paid tier to keep your stuff, or give it all up and switch to a normal Gmail account. While they can export other account data like emails, photos, and cloud-saved bookmarks in a Google Takeout and migrate that to a free account, those purchases and subscriptions (like the grandfathered YouTube Music discount) won’t make the trip.

We asked Google what these customers should do or if any other options for transferring their purchases and subscriptions will be available to them, and the company dodged our only question with the following information, reiterating the details regarding transferring other account details, which we already knew:

Thanks for reaching out. For a seamless transition, customers must upgrade to a new Google Workspace subscription offering. Upgrading will only take a few short steps—it’s not disruptive to end users, and we’re offering deep discounts to help ease the transition. Once you’re upgraded, you can use your new Google Workspace subscription and functionality at no-cost until at least July 1, 2022.

Assuming they have administrator controls for their legacy free edition, customers should be able to share some data, including files and documents, with their no-cost Google Account, but controls, like sharing permissions, will not be automatically transferred.

If a customer’s needs have changed and they do not want to upgrade to a Google Workspace subscription, they can use the Google Workspace data takeout feature to export their organization’s data and cancel their legacy subscription. If a customer wants to retrieve data from other Google services, they can export their data (including Google Workspace and other Google services) with Google takeout at takeout.google.com. The administrator will need to have Google Takeout enabled.


We want our customers to know that at Hale Multimedia, we will help get your emails set up on the paid service or transfer you to another provider for a nominal fee.

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