Google Drive Has a 5 Million Item Cap, Even if You Have Storage Space Left

Google Drive now limits users to 5 million items. A Google Workspace spokesperson confirmed the change in an email Monday evening.

This comes as a Reddit user posted a thread Monday saying Google had imposed a 5 million item limit on peoples’ Drive accounts, without prior warning. The Reddit user said people began receiving “Upload Failed” notifications around Feb. 14 for any action, including creating a new empty folder.

“To maintain strong performance and reliability, individual users are limited to 5 million total created items in their Google Drive,” a spokesperson from Google Workspace said. The spokesperson went on to say this change affects only a small number of users and recommended deleting some files.

For those with a plethora of files, suddenly being asked to remove millions of items is a major inconvenience, as noted in a report created on Google’s issue tracker. One user in the UK said their business in the animal health space has been critically hit by this change. It’s caused a major disruption for the “tens of thousands of users in-practice and their work on a daily basis.”

Others are wondering why, if there’s a hard limit, Google didn’t provide any guidance. The rollout of this change may not be going smoothly either, with some users saying that even at 1 million items, they can’t create a new folder.

For many users and businesses, storing files online is often more convenient than local storage. The overall cloud storage market was valued at $78.6 billion in 2022, according to Markets and Markets.

People can upgrade their Google One account, the service that contains Gmail, Drive, YouTube and others, to have additional storage. This storage can go all the way up to 30TB. Google One competes with Microsoft’s OneDrive, Dropbox, Amazon Cloud Drive and Box. Of course, Google One integrates better with Google Workspace apps like Docs and Sheets. 

Some Google One competitors also have file limits. OneDrive for Business has a limit of 50,000 items per folder. But it’s uncertain if Microsoft has a hard cap on the number of items overall. Dropbox, on the other hand, says there’s no limit.

Microsoft, Amazon and Box representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

It seems that regardless of a person’s Google One plan, whether it be 100GB or 20TB, the 5 million item limit applies. As a result, users with small file sizes are likely to hit the item limit before they hit the storage limit: Someone on a 2TB plan would have to exceed an average file size of 400KB to run out of storage before they hit the item limit. So, unless a person is storing large files like photos and videos on their drive, it’s possible that some are paying for more space than can realistically be used.

Alternatively, other Reddit users pointed out that compressing files into a .ZIP folder ends up counting as one item.

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