Google backtracks on a business-disrupting limitation to its Drive storage service
Cloud storage is infinite only until it isn't anymoreBy Alfonso Maruccia
What just happened? Google recently decided to impose a new "surprise" limitation to Drive, making business customers unable to create an unlimited number of files on the service. The company was then forced to revert the decision, as the limitation was meddling with users' ability to actually use Drive and run their businesses.
Google recently provided more glaring evidence that cloud computing can be even more unreliable than on-premise systems. First, the Mountain View corporation decided to cap the number of files for all Google Drive users to 5 million, even for those paying for the extra online storage. Then, the corporation was forced to remove the limitation as it was essentially bringing many cloud-based, third-party companies to a halt.
Business users started to experience the effects of the file limitation some weeks ago, when APIs and third-party applications began to return error messages about the inability to create new files on Drive. The limitation was rolled out with no prior warning by Google, so customers were treating the issue as a new bug in the cloud service.
There was no bug, however, as Mountain View finally confirmed that the file cap actually was a "safeguard" designed to prevent possible misuse of Drive in a way that could "impact the stability and safety of the system." The file cap was confirmed on Friday, and the weekend provided enough feedback from dissatisfied users that Google had to reverse its decision.
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.--- Google Drive (@googledrive) April 4, 2023
Google said on Twitter that the company recently rolled out a system update to Drive "to preserve stability and optimize performance." The limit impacted "only a small number of people," Google confirmed, but the company decided to roll back the change anyway while exploring "alternate approaches to ensure a great experience for all."
The 5 million-file limit was enforced on Drive with no single word coming from Mountain View, despite the fact that the cloud storage is a key component to Google's overall online business. Drive is also the main storage component behind Google Workspace, the company's monthly subscription offering for business users that was previously known as G Suite, and Workspace even has an official blog where the team routinely provides "essential information about new features and improvements" to its customers.
The ability to create millions of small files in a brief period of time shouldn't be a concern for end users, but it can become one for companies employing Drive as the cloud backbone of their software and apps. The issue can get much worse as Google storage offering can go up to 30 terabytes if you are willing to pay for the service ($150 per month).