You might not want to use Google Drive for large system backups or other many-file transfers. Ars Technica has learned Google quietly instituted a user “creation limit” of 5 million files sometime in February. As Reddit user ra13 discovered, personal (Google One) and business (Google Workspace) users get an error message if they try to directly upload any files past that ceiling. The cap doesn’t apply to shared files, which are already limited to 400,000 items.
In a statement, Google says the file cap is meant to prevent abuses that might hurt the “stability and safety” of Drive. This isn’t a limit on the total number of files in a drive. The number of affected users is “vanishingly small,” the company adds.
The main problem, as you might imagine, is that there’s a chance you’ll reach the file limit before you run out of the storage you’ve paid for. Ra13 estimated that a user with a 2TB Google One account may face that dilemma if the average file size is 400KB or less. While Google is right that won’t likely be an issue for most people, it could be problematic for fans of cloud backups or pros whose apps produce a flood of small files.
Moreover, Google hasn’t publicly acknowledged the cap until now. The company’s product and support pages don’t mention the file creation limit. There’s also no counter, so you don’t know exactly how many files you’ll need to delete or compress to make room for more. The lack of transparency has left some users racing to either trim their Drive libraries or find alternatives without similar restrictions.