It is easy to forget that Google Drive has a limited amount of space, until the day you run out. Then you start to panic and wonder how you are going to clear some space so that you can continue working with the online storage.
Your first task should be to see what is in the Bin. When a file is deleted, it is not completely removed from Google Drive. Instead, it is moved to the Bin, which is basically just another folder. It is a special one though, and it stores every file you delete.
How long do files stay in the Bin? Forever! The Bin is never automatically emptied and so every file you ever deleted is in the Bin. This could amount to a lot of files if you have had Google Drive for quite some time.
The Bin uses the same space as Google Drive, so deleting files, which moves them to the Bin, does not free up Drive space. You must delete them from the Bin. This will recover used space and it could amount to quite a lot.
Let's see how to recover lots of Drive space.
Go to Google Drive in a web browser and then click Bin in the panel on the left.
The contents of the Bin, all the files and folders you have ever deleted, are listed. Right at the top is a Bin menu and clicking it enables you to empty the Bin. Don't do it!
The Bin is useful and tomorrow, next week or next month, you might find that you need a file that you once deleted. Thanks to the Bin, you can find that file, right click it and restore it to its original location, or open it and access it, download it and so on.
Go to the right side of the window and click the column labelled Last modified. Click it again if necessary so that the arrow points down. This means that the files are sorted with the most recent at the top and the oldest at the bottom.
Now scroll all the way to the bottom of the list of files in the Bin. Keep scrolling until it will not scroll any more. It might pause once or twice, so you think that you are at the bottom, but keep going.
Click the last file at the bottom of the Bin to select it. Scroll back a bit and click the first file you want to delete. Then right click them and select Delete forever.
I found files that I had deleted in 2013. It's probably safe to say that I will never need them, so I selected all the 2013 files and deleted them. You can delete some more and it is up to you how many to delete. I decided to keep all files deleted in the last year and to clear all others.
The amount of space you will recover depends on how many files are in the Bin and how big they are. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides do not count towards the space used on Drive, but other files do.