Drive FAQ for admins

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

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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 blacklist the Drive for desktop cache from virus or backup software, exclude this 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.

Folder limits in Google Drive

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How many items can I have directly in a folder?

Any single folder in Drive which is not in a shared drive can have a maximum of 500,000 items placed within it. This limit does not apply to the root folder of 'My Drive'.

Items which are counted toward this limit are:

  • Folders
  • Files
    • Any file you can store in Drive counts toward the limit.
    • Ownership of the file does not matter.
  • Shortcuts
    • A shortcut counts as a single item within a folder, even if the item it points to is not within that folder.

Example 1

This example shows how items are counted: Folder A counts as having 4 items and Folder B as having 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

This example shows that items placed directly in a folder count towards the 500,000 item limit, but items placed in child folders do not count towards the 500,000 limit for the parent folder.

  • 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

This example is permitted because there are fewer than 500,000 items in a single folder. Also note that in this example, Folder D and Folder E are each counted as 1 item toward the limit for Folder C.

Syncing files

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How does Google Drive sync files? 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, HFS+, or NTFS 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.


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What are Drive storage and upload limits?

Drive storage is shared between Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. The amount of storage for each user depends on your type of account:

  • Frontline
2 GB per user
  • G Suite Basic

30 GB per user

  • Business Starter

30 GB per user

  • Business Standard

2 TB per user added to pooled storage

  • Business Plus

5 TB per user added to pooled storage

  • Enterprise Essentials
1 TB per user added to pooled storage,
up to a maximum of 25 TB.
  • Enterprise editions

As much as you need.*

For details, contact a Google Sales representative.

  • Essentials

    No longer available for new customers

100 GB per user added to pooled storage,
up to a maximum of 2 TB

  • Essentials Starter
15 GB per user
  • Business Essentials
100 GB per user added to pooled storage,
up to a maximum of 2 TB
  • G Suite Business

Unlimited storage
(1 TB if 4 or fewer users)

  • Education Fundamentals
  • Education Standard
  • Teaching and Learning Upgrade
  • Education Plus

100 TB pooled cloud storage

Additional storage:

  • Teaching and Learning Upgrade—100 GB per user
  • Education Plus—20 GB per user
  • Individual personal accounts
  • Legacy free edition of G Suite

15 GB

* Google provides an initial 5 TB of pooled storage for each user. If your organization has 5 or more users, you can request additional storage by contacting Google Workspace support. For more information, see the Google Workspace Services Summary.

If needed, you can upgrade for more storage, or, for Education customers, you can buy licenses.

Upload limits

Individual users can only upload 750 GB each day between My Drive and all shared drives. Users who reach the 750-GB limit or upload a file larger than 750 GB cannot upload additional files that day. Uploads that are in progress will complete. The maximum individual file size that you can upload or synchronize is 5 TB.

How does pooled storage work?
Pooled storage is shared storage across all of your users for everything in their accounts. This includes, but is not limited to, files from Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. Learn more about pooled storage.
What counts toward storage?

The following files count toward storage:

Google Drive

  • Files in Google Drive, which includes PDFs, images, videos, and Meet recordings.
  • 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.

If a file is in more than one folder in Drive, it still counts only once toward your storage quota.


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

Google Photos

Content created with My Maps doesn't count toward your organization's storage quota.

What happens to users’ additional storage when they get upgraded to pooled storage?
Any additional storage (added by the user or by you in a license) is not added to the user’s pooled storage. And, after the upgrade, the user will not be able to access the additional storage. To avoid continuing charges for additional storage, the user needs to cancel their subscription. If the license you added for them is not automatically canceled, you need to manually cancel it.
How do I know how much storage is being used by my organization?

Starting on May 2, 2022, new and updated Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings or Jamboard files will count towards your organization's storage quota.

See the storage status for your entire organization

You can see your storage use in a few ways. The easiest is the storage management tool:

 You must be signed in as a super administrator for this task.

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using an account with super administrator privileges (does not end in

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Storage "".

  3. At the top you can see how much Workspace storage your organization is using.

If you're not a super administrator, 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 reportand thenTotal storage used.

See 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

  2. From the Admin console Home page, go to Users.
  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.
How can users view and manage how much storage they're using?

Your users can see how much space they have available by going to

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

Drive storage is for users and Cloud Storage is for developers.

Do multiple revisions of a file count against my storage limit?

Multiple revisions of a file are available online, but only the latest version is available on your computer. The online revisions don't count toward your storage quota unless you explicitly decide to keep older revisions.

If a file is in multiple Drive folders on the web, does it count against my quota multiple times?

No. Only one version counts against your storage quota.

Do files that have been shared with me count toward my storage quota?

No. Files that have been shared with you in Drive never count toward your storage limit, even if you move them to My Drive. For details, go to Manage files in your Google Drive storage.

What if I use more storage online than I have available on my computer?

With Google Drive for desktop, this is no problem. Your files are stored exclusively online unless you make them available for offline access.

What happens if a user is over their quota or a storage license is removed?

The user can still access any files already in Drive, but they won't be able to add more files until they're under quota or have their quota increased.

Starting May 2, 2022, new and updated Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, or Jamboard files will count toward Drive storage. Existing files within these products will not count toward storage, unless they’re modified on or after May 2, 2022. If a user is over quota, they can’t create new files in these products. Until they reduce their storage use, neither they nor anyone else can edit or copy their affected files, or submit forms they own. Learn more

Organizations that need additional storage should upgrade their Workspace edition.

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.


Next steps: Set up Drive for your team

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