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

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 Backup and Sync, local files are always available offline. For example, PDFs, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and other files in your Google Drive folder that weren't created with Docs editors are 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 Backup and Sync, local files (those not created with Docs editors or My Maps) still exist on your computer, as usual. Future changes to the local files will no longer sync as your computer won't be able to authenticate with Drive. Because Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms are stored in the cloud, you need your user name and password to access them.

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

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

How does Google Drive sync files?

This depends on whether you use Google Drive for desktop or Backup and Sync. To compare these options, see Choose a sync solution.

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

If you use 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.

If you use Backup and Sync, your local files will remain in your Drive folder on your computer, and a synced copy is also stored online. You can also configure Backup and Sync to delete local files and keep them safe in the cloud.

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.

Backup and Sync doesn't throttle bandwidth by default, but you can choose to limit your bandwidth settings. You can also pause syncing at any time if Drive is consuming too much of your Internet connection.

See Back up & sync files with Google Drive to learn how to limit bandwidth.

Can I control which sync application is used in my organization?

Yes. As the administrator, you can turn on or off Drive for desktop, Backup and Sync, both, or neither. See Turn on sync for your organization to learn more.

Can I use Drive for desktop and Backup and Sync at the same time?

Yes, if both applications are allowed in your organization. Learn what happens if you allow both applications.

Which file systems are supported by Backup and Sync?

Backup and Sync supports APFS, HFS+, and FAT (on OS X), and ReFS, NTFS, and FAT (on Windows). There is currently no support for network volumes (e.g. SMB or NFS).

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.
If I need to upload a big set of data to Google Drive, should I use Backup and Sync, or Drive for desktop?

We recommend that you use Backup and Sync, as Drive for desktop cache and FAT limitations might cause errors. In any case, please always keep a copy of the original (use copy/paste, not cut/paste), as we can’t recover files that never made it to the cloud.

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 and Backup and Sync, 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.


What are the Drive storage and file size limits?

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

  • Frontline
2 GB per user
  • Workplace 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 editions

As much as you need.

For details, contact a Google Sales representative.

  • Essentials

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

  • Workplace 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 Workplace

15 GB

Available April 2021

If needed, you can purchase additional storage.

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

How do limits apply to shared drives?

Content in shared drives counts toward your organization's storage quota.

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.

What counts against your storage quota

  • Original quality photos and videos backed up to Google Photos.
  • High quality (now named Storage saver) and Express quality photos and videos backed up to Google Photos after June 1, 2021. Any photos or videos you've backed up in High quality or Express quality before June 1, 2021 will not count toward your Google Account storage. Learn more about this change.
  • Gmail messages and attachments, which includes your Spam and Trash folders.
  • Files in Google Drive, which includes PDFs, images, and videos.
  • Files created or edited in collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Jamboard. 
    • Files created or edited after June 1, 2021 count against your quota. 
    • Files uploaded or last edited before June 1, 2021 don't count against your quota. 

Who's impacted

Admins and end users. Storage limits differ across Google Workspace and G Suite editions, but we estimate that the majority of users will not be affected by these changes.

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. For details, go to How Google Workspace storage works
 What counts towards storage?

Google Drive

  • Most files in your My Drive. For example:
    • PDFs
    • Images
    • Videos
  • Items in your Trash. Learn how to empty your trash.
  • As of June 1, 2021, newly created Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, or Jamboard files count toward storage. Files that already exist don't count toward storage unless they're modified on or after June 1.
    Important: For Google Workspace and G Suite editions, this change goes into effect on February 1, 2022.


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

Google Photos

  • Photos and videos backed up in Original quality.
  • Photos and videos backed up in High quality (now named Storage saver) or Express quality after June 1, 2021. Any photos or videos you backed up in High quality or Express quality before June 1, 2021 will not count toward your Google Account storage. Learn more about Photos backup options.
  • If you’ve been over your quota for 2 years or longer, and you have not freed up or purchased more space to get back under quota, all of your content may be removed from Gmail, Drive and Photos. Learn how to keep your Google Account active and under quota.
How do I know how much storage is being used by my organization?

Starting on February 1, 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

Important: The total won't include Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings, or Jamboard files until February 1, 2022. These files typically add 100 MB of storage per user per month.

  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.

Can my users see how much storage they have available?

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

How much storage do Google Docs editors files use?

Starting on February 1, 2022, new and updated Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings or Jamboard files will count towards your organization's storage quota.

Like most file formats, the size of the file increases as you add content. Large images or embedded videos can significantly increase the size of the file.

In general, Google Docs, Sheets or Slides files have a similar size as the same file exported to the corresponding Microsoft Office format. On average, a Google Workspace user creates less than 100 MB of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Drawings or Jamboard content per month.

How can I help my users manage their storage? 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.

With Backup and Sync, if you don't have enough storage on your computer you can choose to sync only a subset of folders in Drive. For details, go to Back up & sync files with Google Drive.

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 additional files until they're under quota or have their quota increased.

Starting February 1, 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 February 1, 2022. If you're over quota, you can’t create new files in these products. Until you reduce your storage usage, neither you nor anyone else can edit or copy your affected files. 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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