Friday, January 21, 2022

G Suite Removes Free Plans

Google, in 2006:

A standard edition of Google Apps for Your Domain is available today as a beta product without cost to domain administrators or end users. Key features include 2 gigabytes of email storage for each user, easy to use customization tools, and help for administrators via email or an online help center. Furthermore, organizations that sign up during the beta period will not ever have to pay for users accepted during that period (provided Google continues to offer the service).

Abner Li (via Hacker News, David Heinemeier Hansson):

In 2020, G Suite became Google Workspace as part of a mass reorganization of the company’s apps for the “future of work.” Various plans were migrated over, and Google is now finally getting rid of the G Suite legacy free edition.

“Google Apps” for businesses and schools were introduced 16 years ago and was discontinued in 2012. However, the company made no significant changes to those free accounts in the past decade, until today.


After getting free Gmail, Drive, Docs, and other apps for the past several years, companies/people will need to start paying for those Google services and the ability to use your own custom domain (instead of just

The new plans start at $6/month.


Update (2022-01-24): Ryne Hager (via Hacker News):

No lawsuit has been filed yet; the attorneys involved are just collecting information for a potential lawsuit in the future once all the facts are straight (and Google has had time to reconsider its actions).

When we covered the original news of the legacy G Suite shutdown, it seemed unreasonable to us, because customers using those legacy accounts are unable to transfer purchases or things like grandfathered subscription discounts to new accounts. When we asked if moving purchases between accounts might be possible, a Google representative confirmed it wasn’t[…]

Neil Jhaveri:

If you’re currently a Legacy G Suite user, the free plan will end by July 1st. I’m curious: what do you plan to do?

Update (2022-02-16): Ron Amadeo:

Naturally, this move led to a huge outcry outside (and apparently inside) Google, and now, the company seems to be backing down from most of the harsher terms of the initial announcement. First, Google is launching a survey of affected G Suite users—apparently, the company is surprised by how many people this change affected. Second, it's promising a data-migration option (including your content purchases) to a consumer account before the shutdown hits.

Update (2022-05-17): John Gordon:

Google reprieve came. We can continue our non-business legacy Google Apps.

Abner Li:

The company will now let you stay on a “Free Legacy Edition of G Suite for personal use” as the “no-cost” alternative in a rather notable policy change.


In a change of plans, there’s no longer a waiting list, and these old users can sign-up for no-cost Legacy G Suite now. Head to your account’s Google Admin Console as there are many reports of it going live this afternoon. You have until June 27 to pick a transition path.

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It's almost as if it makes sense for a business to charge customers for its product! (Though one should ask whether in the case of G Suite advertisers are still the real customer.)

Bonus piece of wisdom: it almost never makes sense to promise a perpetually-free lunch, lest headlines of yore prove embarrassing.

I wonder how many families will be impacted by this change. Back in 2006, quite a few technically oriented people set up Google Apps environments under the "permanently free" terms of the beta program and began using them with family domains. In my case, I tried the beta to learn about the platform for professional purposes, but the applicability to family environments quickly became apparent.

It's not the end of the world, but it will be a chore to move to another service that will be cheaper than $6/user/month. I'm not complaining; certainly my immediate family has gotten a lot of real value from the legacy program. To be fair, though, Google probably has gotten more than its money's worth, too. My personal experience in the beta days led me to influence some large organizations to adopt Google Apps instead of Microsoft tools for at least parts of their businesses. In the early days of businesses investigating the cloud, Google was quite far ahead of Microsoft (obviously that's no longer the case), but they needed help getting the word out. I believe that the beta program helped to create evangelists for cloud tools in general, and Google Apps in particular.

Anyway, my only real comment is that one never should believe promises of permanently free anything, especially from tech companies. If it's important, sooner or later you'll have to pay for it, and if it's not really important, sooner or later it will go away.

I'm still waiting for Google to directly tell me - has anyone received the termination email from Google?

I logged into workspace admin and selected a business plan (the starter). When I did, I was offered one year at a 50% off the regular price ($3.80 CAD) valid for one year. Billing won't start until July 202, so the next six months are still free, but you get access to the starter business plan features now (e.g. 30 GB storage).

"(Though one should ask whether in the case of G Suite advertisers are still the real customer.)"

There are no advertisements in G Suite. A simple reading of the terms of service would easily answer this question as well.

Liam wrote "I'm still waiting for Google to directly tell me - has anyone received the termination email from Google?"

I received one a couple of days ago. It's a little annoying that they don't address the "not ever have to pay" promise in their termination email.

Wow. The survey option is a deep secret. Thanks mj for tweeting the update.

Dreamhost used to bundle Google apps with domains and greedy me ended up with 4 I use for family and social good. All less than 10 users. Exit is very painful.

Back then Google was a different company. We were naïfs.

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