Google is rolling back the unannounced file limit change on Drive, promises to do better

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 4, 2023

Some Google customers have run into hard file limits on Google Drive for the past two months. User accounts that exceeded the hard limit of 5 million files could not add more files to cloud storage solution, even if enough storage space was available.

Google Drive's error message, "Error 403: This account has exceeded the creation limit of 5 million items. To create more items, move items to the trash and delete them forever", suggested to users that they should remove files to get under the 5 million files limit, if they wanted to add files to Google Drive.

Google did not document the change, and some Google Drive customers could not use the service as a consequence. Google never listed the file limit in the available plans, and there has been no support document available either that revealed the hard file cap.

google drive

Google did respond to an Arstechnica article two months later. In the statement, Google confirmed the existence of the file limit and stated that it was "a safeguard to prevent misuse of our system in a way that might impact the stability and safety of the system".

Today, Google announced that it made the decision to revert the change. The official Google Drive Twitter account published the following message: "We recently rolled out a system update to Drive item limits to preserve stability and optimize performance. While this impacted only a small number of people, we are rolling back this change as we explore alternate approaches to ensure a great experience for all.".

According to the short post, Google has lifted the file limit. Affected customers should not get the error message anymore when they upload new files to the cloud storage system.

Clearly, the change did affect only a small number of customers. Most Drive users will never come close to the 5 million files cap, but users who have access to multiple Drives may run into the limit, especially considering that Google One has limits of up to 30 terabytes of storage and Google Workspaces Enterprise plans "as much storage" as organizations need.

Google did reveal that shared folders do not count towards the limit, if the files are uploaded by other Google users.

In a follow up tweet, Google Drive promises that it won't make unannounced changes anymore, stating "If we need to make changes, we will communicate them to users in advance". It is unclear if the promise applies to changes related to file limits specifically, or any change that may impact customers on Google Drive.

Closing Words

Google implemented the change without informing customers in advance and without updating documentation or the plans. Google's reversal of the change is clearly a reaction to press coverage, as the company has not reacted in the two months prior to the limits being reported on by various publications.

Now You: do you use online storage?

Google is rolling back the unannounced file limit change on Drive, promises to do better
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Google is rolling back the unannounced file limit change on Drive, promises to do better
Google has rolled back a change that set a hard limit of 5 million files for any customer at the company's Google Cloud storage service.
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