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Drive FAQ for admins

Below are common questions about managing Google Drive for an organization or team.

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Overview

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Is Google Drive different than Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides?

Yes. Drive is a place to store and access all your files, while Docs, Sheets, and Slides are types of web-based documents, as are Forms and Drawings. The suite of Google's web-based editors is referred to as Google Docs editors.

Similarly, Google My Maps are also web-based documents that you can create or share in Drive. Like Docs editors, My Maps can be used with or without Drive.

Are the files I store in Drive secure?

With Drive, your data is always backed up or stored in the cloud, so no matter what happens to your devices, your files are safe. You get the same business-grade data protection and security advantages that you get with Google Workspace, as described in Google Workspace security and privacy.

Accessing Drive files

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With Drive for desktop, are Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and My Maps stored on my computer?

No. Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and My Maps are found on your computer as files that are essentially just pointers to web documents. These small "pointer files" have Google extensions (such as .gdoc, .gsheet, and .gslides). If you open these files on your computer, they open in your browser where you can edit them online as usual.

Are Drive files available offline?

For cloud-based Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms, you can enable offline access to Docs editors. My Maps aren't available offline.

With Google Drive for desktop, you can make selected Drive files available for offline use.

Where is the Drive for desktop cache?

If you need to exclude the Drive for desktop cache from antivirus or backup software, exclude the following directory:

  • Windows: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\DriveFS
  • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS

You can optionally customize the cache location.

Warning: Be cautious about clearing the Google Drive for desktop cache to try to fix general problems. Files are moved here before they're uploaded. If you clear the cache before an upload is complete, that file will be lost.
What happens to my Drive files if I lose access to my Google Account?

With Drive for desktop, you need a valid Google Account to access all Drive files.

Can I disable Drive but keep Docs, Sheets, and Slides?

No. If you turn off the Drive service, this disables Docs editors as well as all Drive components (Drive on the web, Drive mobile apps, and Drive sync applications).

Which parts of files in Drive are searchable?

Drive search includes full search over all file content, in addition to the operators listed here.

File and folder limits in Google Drive

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How many items can I have in Drive?

Each user can have up to 500 million items that were created by that account. When the limit is reached, the user can no longer create or upload items in Drive. They can still view and edit existing items. To be able to create files again, they must permanently delete items or use a different account.

What counts toward the limit:

  • Items created or uploaded by the user in Drive
  • Items created by the user but now owned by someone else
  • Items in Trash
  • Shortcuts

What doesn’t count toward the limit:

  • Permanently deleted files
  • Items shared with the user but owned by someone else
  • Items owned by the user but created by someone else
How many items can I have directly in a folder?

A folder in Drive which is not in a shared drive can have a maximum of 500,000 items in it. This limit doesn't apply to the root folder of My Drive.

The following items count toward this limit

  • Folders, but not number of items in those folders
  • Files
    • Any file you can store in Drive counts toward the limit.
    • Ownership of the file doesn't matter.
  • Shortcuts
    • A shortcut counts as a single item in a folder, even if the item it points to isn't in that folder.

Example 1

The following example shows how files and folders are counted. Folder A has 4 items and Folder B has 2 items:

  • My Drive (root)
    • Folder A (four items directly in this folder: Doc 1, Doc 2, Doc 3, Folder B)
      • Doc 1
      • Doc 2
      • Doc 3
      • Folder B (two items directly in this folder: Doc 4, Doc 5)
        • Doc 4
        • Doc 5

Example 2

The following example shows that items in a folder count towards the 500,000 item limit, but not items in child folders.

  • My Drive (root)
    • Folder C has 300,000 items directly placed in it
      • Folder D has 400,000 items directly placed in it
      • Folder E has 200,000 items directly placed it it

Here, Folder C contains 300,000 items, including Folder D and Folder E. The contents of Folder D and Folder E don't count towards the item limit for Folder C.

How deep can I nest folders in My Drive?

My Drive folders can be nested up to 100 folders deep, including the parent folder. A folder (the parent folder) can contain a folder (a nested folder), that contains a folder, that contains a folder, and so on until the folders are nested 100 deep. In the deepest folder, the user can add files and shortcuts, but not folders. The limit doesn’t apply to items that are restored or migrated to another account.

For example, in the following diagram, a new folder can be nested inside of folder number 99 but not inside of folder number 100. However, folder number 100 can store files like any other Drive folder:

Syncing files

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How does Google Drive sync files?

To learn more about how Google Drive for desktop syncs files, go to Use Google Drive for desktop.

Are synced files removed from my computer and stored online exclusively?

With Drive for desktop, your Drive files are moved to the cloud, freeing up disk space and eliminating the network bandwidth needed to keep all your files synced from your computer to the cloud. You can stream Drive files on demand, or make them available for offline access.

Will syncing files use much internet bandwidth?

With Drive for desktop, files are stored in the cloud and don’t need to sync with online versions, saving network bandwidth. Files that are cached for offline access will sync back to the cloud when you’re online.

What happens when I delete a file in Drive for desktop?

Files deleted from Drive for desktop will be purged from the system trash after 30 days.

Which file systems are supported by Drive for desktop?

The Drive for desktop content cache supports connected APFS (macOS), HFS+ (macOS), or NTFS (Windows) file systems. Drive for desktop currently doesn’t support network volumes (for example, SMB or NFS).

Drive for desktop creates a virtual Drive, which appears as a FAT file system.

Note: FAT has some file size limitations. For example, the largest possible file for a FAT32 drive is 4GB (minus 2 bytes).

What are the Drive for desktop cache limitations?
  • You can’t upload a folder larger than the available storage in the partition where the cache folder is located.
  • Drive for desktop will show a limited Drive quota (even for unlimited accounts), according to the available space in the local drive where the cache is located.
Why can't I upload Google Docs and Sheets files directly to shared drives or sync with other backup clients?
When using Drive for desktop  you'll find .gdoc and .gsheet files listed on your local machine. These can't be backed up by other clients, such as Dropbox or OneDrive, because they are shortcut files pointing to specific files hosted in Google's cloud. These shortcut files are not available for uploading or copying with other sync tools.

Furthermore, if you try to drag a .gdoc or .gsheet file from your desktop into a shared drive in your browser, you will see the error message "Can’t duplicate filename.gdoc.” Instead, to add a file to a shared drive, use a web browser and follow these instructions.

Storage

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What are Google Workspace storage and upload limits?

Google Workspace storage is shared between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. Learn how storage use is calculated.

The amount of storage for each user depends on your Google Workspace edition. Most Google Workspace editions have pooled storage. Pooled storage is indicated in the following tables as total storage or a storage amount times the number of End User licenses.

Google provides storage on an incremental basis up to the purchased eligible storage limit.

Google Workspace Edition or Subscription Storage Limits

G Suite Basic

No longer available for new customers

30 GB per End User

G Suite Business

G Suite Business - Archived Users

No longer available for new customers

Unlimited storage

1 TB per Archived User

Google Workspace Business Starter 30 GB times the number of End Users, including Archived Users
Google Workspace Business Standard 2 TB times the number of End Users, including Archived Users
Google Workspace Business Plus 5 TB times the number of End Users, including Archived Users
Google Workspace Enterprise Starter 1 TB times the number of End Users

Google Workspace Enterprise Standard

Google Workspace Enterprise Plus

5 TB times the number of End Users, including Archived Users

For customers with 5 or more End Users, more storage may be available at Google's discretion upon reasonable request. Learn how to request storage.

Google Workspace for Education

Google Workspace Edition or Subscription Storage Limits

Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals

Google Workspace for Education Standard

100 TB total for all End Users
Google Workspace for Education Teaching and Learning Upgrade Additional 100 GB times the number of End User licenses
Google Workspace for Education Plus Additional 20 GB times the number of End User licenses

For more information about storage for Google Workspace for Education storage, go to Understand storage availability and usage.

Google Workspace Essentials

Google Workspace Essentials editions do not include Gmail.

Google Workspace Edition or Subscription Storage Limits

Google Workspace Essentials Starter

15 GB per End User

Google Workspace Essentials

No longer available for new customers

100 GB times the number of End User, up to a maximum of 2 TB
Google Workspace Enterprise Essentials 1 TB times the number of End Users
Google Workspace Enterprise Essentials Plus 5 TB times the number of End Users

Google Workspace Frontline

Google Workspace Edition or Subscription Storage Limits

Google Workspace Frontline Starter

Google Workspace Frontline Standard

5 GB per End User*

*This storage limit applies to all End Users using a Google Workspace Frontline edition, even if the Customer purchased another Google Workspace offering with different storage limits.

Google Workspace for Nonprofits

Google Workspace Edition or Subscription Storage Limits

Google Workspace for Nonprofits

100 TB for all End Users

If you need more storage, review your storage options for non-Education Google Workspace editions or storage options for Education editions.

Upload limits

Each user can upload and copy 750 GB to Drive within 24 hours. Users who reach the 750-GB limit can't upload or copy more files until the limit refreshes. The limit refreshes within 24 hours.

  • You can upload and synchronize files up to 5 TB in size. Only the first file that breaks the limit completes uploading.
  • Files larger than 750 GB can’t be copied. Instead, download the file and then upload it.
How does pooled storage work?
Pooled storage is shared storage for all your users. This storage includes, but is not limited to, files from Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.
Each user’s license adds to your organization’s pool. Because storage is pooled, users can use more than the storage included in their license. We recommend that you set storage limits to fairly share storage between users and shared drives.
What counts toward storage? What doesn't?

The following files count toward storage:

Google Drive

  • Items in Google Drive, which includes PDFs, images, videos, Meet recordings, and Sites project files.
  • Files created or edited after May 2, 2022 in collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, Recorder, and Jamboard.
  • Content in shared drives.
  • Content in Trash until it's permanently deleted.

Gmail

  • Messages and attachments, including items in your Spam and Trash folders.

Google Photos

The following content doesn't count toward storage:

  • Drive shortcuts
  • Google Chat messages and attachments
  • Content created with My Maps
  • Files shared with users. Shared files are counted only for the file owner's storage, not for the users the file is shared with.
  • Version history for files created in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, unless the user explicitly decides to keep older versions.
  • WhatsApp backups from Android devices
How can I see how much storage my organization uses?

You can see your organization's storage use in your Admin console, including which users and shared drives use the most storage. For details, see Review storage use across your organization.

If you don't have access to the data on the Storage page, you might be able to review the Accounts report:

  1. Go to the article View Apps reports for your organization.
  2. Follow the steps on how to go to the Accounts report > Total storage used.

Review the storage status of a single user

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu and then Directoryand thenUsers.
  3. Click a user to open their account page.
    At the top of the page, you can see the percentages of mail and Drive storage utilized by the user.
What happens if a user or organization is over their storage limit?

If a user exceeds the storage limit set by their admin or by their license, their Google services are immediately impacted.

As soon as your organization exceeds its storage limit, users can’t add or back up photos to Google Photos.

If your organization exceeds its storage limit by 25% or for 14 days (whichever comes first), the following services are impacted:

  • Users can’t add new files or images to Google Drive.
  • Users can’t create new files in collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms. Until they reduce storage use, nobody can edit or copy their affected files or submit forms owned by the user.
  • Users can’t record new meetings in Google Meet.

When your organization’s limit is exceeded, users can still sign in to their Google Workspace account, send and receive emails, and view and download files.

If you need more storage, review your storage options for non-Education Google Workspace editions or storage options for Education editions.

Ultimately, you are limited to the amount of storage described in our terms of service, and we reserve the right to disable uploads to Drive if you exceed your limit.

How do I get more storage for my organization?

The ways you can get more storage for your organization’s email, files, and photos depend on your edition:

What is the difference between Google Drive storage and Google Cloud Storage?

Google Workspace storage is best for files that users access and edit frequently or collaborate in through Drive, Gmail, or Photos. Cloud Storage is best for files that users access indirectly through a website or other system your organization’s developers set up.

Is my storage calculated in metric or binary units (GB or GiB)?

Google Workspace storage is sold and calculated in binary units. For example, each Enterprise Standard user license adds 5 TiB to your pooled storage, equal to ~5.5 TB.

What happened to legacy individual storage subscriptions?

Individual storage subscriptions are no longer available for purchase. When you upgrade to an edition that has pooled storage or your edition is updated to have pooled storage:

  • The legacy storage isn’t added to your organization’s pooled storage.
  • Any legacy storage subscriptions are automatically cancelled.

User-purchased storage

If users purchased additional storage, you may want to prepare ahead of the switch to make sure your organization has enough pooled storage for everyone. To identify which users might have a legacy user-purchased storage subscription:

  1. Review the amount of storage included with your current Google Workspace subscription. On this page, go to What are Google Workspace storage and upload limits? 
  2. In your Admin console, use the storage management tools to identify high-storage users. If their storage use is larger than what is included with their license, they might have purchased a legacy storage subscription. For example, a user with a Business Starter is expected to have 30 GB of storage, but if they’re using 50 GB, they may have purchased additional storage.

Alternatively, users can cancel their subscription ahead of the switch. To cancel an individual storage subscription, the user:

  1. Opens https://play.google.com/store/account/subscriptions with the account they use for work or school.
  2. Finds the Google One subscription (user-managed individual storage subscriptions are now listed as Google One subscriptions).
  3. Clicks Manageand thenCancel subscription and follows the on-screen instructions.

Admin-purchased storage

If you purchased additional storage for your users with the legacy admin-managed storage subscription, you can review how much storage that added in your Admin console (go to Billingand thenSubscriptions). On that page, you can cancel the subscription if you no longer need it. It will be canceled automatically after the switch to pooled storage.

 

Next steps: Set up Drive for your team

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