Google Drive’s Hidden Catch: A 5 Million Item Limit Regardless of Storage Space

Google Drive’s Hidden Catch: A 5 Million Item Limit Regardless of Storage Space

Table of Content

In this article, we’ll delve into the recent discovery that Google Drive has a hidden item limit, affecting users regardless of how much storage space they have. 

This revelation came as a surprise to many who relied on the cloud storage service to house their digital lives.

Key Takeaways:

  • A Reddit user discovered Google Drive’s 5 million item limit.
  • The limit affects users regardless of their available storage space.
  • Google has acknowledged the limit, stating it’s in place for “strong performance and reliability.”
  • Users exceeding the limit cannot upload new files until they remove enough items.
  • The item limit is not clearly documented, leading to confusion among users.
  • Competing cloud storage services, such as Dropbox and Box, do not have item limits.

The Discovery of Google Drive’s Hidden Item Limit

It all began when a Reddit user going by the username u/ra13 shared their experience with Google Drive’s previously unknown item limit. This limitation isn’t about storage capacity, but rather the number of files a user can store in their account. 

According to u/ra13, they began experiencing upload failures and difficulties creating new folders in mid-February. They weren’t the only ones; several other users reported similar issues.

The Reddit user who brought this issue to light had over 7 million files stored in their Google Drive, well above the 5 million item limit that Google seemingly always had in place. 

This limitation applies across the board, even if users have additional storage space available.

Google’s Response to the Issue

In response to the growing number of users affected by this limitation, a Google spokesperson released a statement (credit: CNET) explaining that the 5 million item limit is in place “to maintain strong performance and reliability.” 

Since then, a new error message has appeared for users who have exceeded this cap.

Users can still access their files when over the limit, but they must remove enough items to get back under the 5 million mark before they can upload new files. 

For some, like u/ra13, this means deleting millions of files, which is a time-consuming and frustrating process.

Lack of Clear Documentation Causes Confusion

What’s particularly surprising about this revelation is that there is no official documentation on Google Support that explicitly mentions the 5 million item limit, except for Shared Drives, which have a cap of 400,000 items. 

This lack of information led some to speculate that Google either forgot to include the limit in their documentation or assumed that no one would ever reach it.

This omission has left many users shocked and scrambling to find a solution, as they had no prior knowledge of this limitation. 

Clear documentation and communication from Google could have prevented much of the confusion and frustration experienced by users who have unknowingly surpassed the limit.

Implications for Users and Businesses

For users who have stored their entire digital lives on Google Drive, discovering this hidden item limit is a game-changer. 

Individuals and businesses alike now face the daunting task of either deleting files to comply with the limit or seeking alternative cloud storage solutions.

This unexpected limitation also raises questions about the reliability of cloud storage services and the importance of diversifying our digital storage options. 

Users may need to reconsider their reliance on a single cloud storage platform and explore other options to ensure their data remains accessible and secure.

How Google Drive Compares to Competing Services

In light of this revelation, it’s worth examining how Google Drive’s item limit compares to its competitors. Services like Dropbox and Box do not impose item limits on their users. 

This gives them a competitive advantage over Google Drive, especially for users with a large number of files.

It’s important to note that while some cloud storage services may not have item limits, they may have other restrictions in place. 

Users should carefully review the terms and conditions of each service to ensure it meets their needs and expectations.

Possible Workarounds for the Item Limit

For users looking to address the item limit issue without completely abandoning Google Drive, there are a few potential workarounds. 

One suggestion from Reddit users is to compress multiple files into a single .zip folder, as this counts as one item in Google Drive.

Another option is to distribute files across multiple Google Drive accounts or use a combination of different cloud storage services. 

This strategy not only helps users stay within the 5 million item limit but also reduces the risk of losing access to all files in case of service issues or account compromises.

Additionally, users can consider implementing local storage solutions or network-attached storage (NAS) devices as backups. 

This ensures that critical files are available even if cloud storage services face limitations or disruptions.


The revelation of Google Drive’s hidden item limit has left users scrambling to either delete files or find alternative cloud storage solutions. 

This unexpected limitation serves as a reminder of the importance of diversifying our digital storage options and being aware of the potential limitations of cloud services. 

While Google has provided a reason for the limit, clearer documentation and communication with users could have prevented much of the confusion and frustration surrounding this issue.


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Judith Harvey is a seasoned finance editor with over two decades of experience in the financial journalism industry. Her analytical skills and keen insight into market trends quickly made her a sought-after expert in financial reporting.