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Drive FAQ for administrators

Below are common questions about managing Google Drive for a team of G Suite users.

Looking instead for a Drive feature overview?

Overview

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 G Suite, as described in G Suite security and privacy.

Accessing Drive files

Are Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and My Maps stored on my computer?

No. Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and My Maps in My Drive 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), and do not count toward your storage quota. 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 (or the previous version, Drive for Mac/PC), 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 Drive File Stream, you can make selected Drive files available for offline use.

Where is the Drive File Stream cache?

If you need to blacklist the Drive File Stream cache from virus or backup software, exclude this directory:

  • Windows: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Google\DriveFS
  • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS
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 File Stream, you need a valid Google Account to access all Drive files.

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

You can disable some components of the Drive service, but you can't disable Drive and keep the Docs editors. If you turn off the Drive service, this disables all components of the service, as well as the Docs editors. 

See User settings to learn about options that can be enabled or disabled.
Which parts of files in Drive are searchable?
  • G Suite for Government: Drive search includes search over file titles, in addition to the operators listed here.
  • All other editions of G Suite: Drive search includes full search over all file content, in addition to the operators listed here.

Syncing files

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all references to Backup and Sync below also apply to the previous version of the sync client, Drive for Mac/PC. (Drive for Mac/PC will no longer be supported as of December 11, 2017.)

How does Google Drive sync files?

This depends on whether you use Drive File Stream 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 File Stream, 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 File Stream, 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 File Stream, Backup and Sync, both, or neither. See Turn on sync for your organization to learn more.

Can I use Drive File Stream 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 does the Drive sync client support?

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).

Storage

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 the type of your account:

G Suite Basic 30 GB

G Suite Enterprise
G Suite Business
G Suite for Education

Unlimited storage
(1 TB if 4 or fewer users)
Google Apps Free edition (legacy)
Individual consumer accounts
15 GB

If needed, you can purchase additional storage.

Content created with Docs editors or My Maps doesn't count toward storage quotas. To learn more, see What uses my storage space?.

The maximum individual file size that you can upload or sync in Google Drive is 5 TB. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides have different size limits.

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 are not counted toward your storage quota unless you’ve explicitly decided 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.

See what uses your storage space.

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

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

With Backup and Sync (or the previous version, Drive for Mac/PC), if you don't have enough storage on your computer you can choose to sync only a subset of folders in Drive. See Back up & sync files with Google Drive to learn more.

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'll receive a warning and won't be able to add additional files until they're under quota or have their quota increased.

 

Next steps: Set up Google Drive for your team

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