Google Storage Changes

Summary

In June of 2024 Google is removing the free, unlimited storage feature from our campus @ucsd.edu Google domain. This change will impact user accounts and role accounts as well as Shared Drives.


  • User Accounts
    • All official campus accounts for SIO employees (administrative and academic) and grad students will have a default storage quota of 100GB across their Google Drive, Gmail and Photos.
  • Role Accounts
    • Accounts for shared use or specific services will receive a minimal default storage quota of approximately 100MB.
  • Shared Drives
    • Team Drives/Shared Drives will not have any quota by default.
    • Users will no longer be allowed to create Shared Drives themselves.

This page is designed to provide information on available options and contains answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. Please note, however, that SIO IT will contact individual users and shared account owners who have met or exceeded the future limit well ahead of the planned change in order to facilitate a transition to one of the options below.

Please contact your helpdesk team at siohelp@ucsd.edu or igppticket@ucsd.edu if you wish to discuss the options available.

 

How to check data usage on a user or role account?

To view how much total storage a user or role account is currently using, visit the link below while logged on in your web browser with the relevant account. It will display how much is used by the account's Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.

https://drive.google.com/settings/storage

To get a list of your Google Drive files sorted by size, access the link below.

https://drive.google.com/drive/quota

To get a list of your larger Gmail messages, enter a query such as "larger_than:25MB" in the Search box of the Gmail web page, or access the link below to find any messages of at least this size. You can adjust the number as needed to find your largest messages.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/larger_than%3A25MB

When you find large files or email messages that you don't need any more, you can simply delete them. If you want to keep a copy 'just in case', download them to your own computer before deleting them from your Google account. 

 

How to check data usage on a Shared Drive?

There is currently no way for users to see how much space their Shared Drives are using. This will likely change in the future, but for now you will need to contact Scripps IT to find out.

 

storage Options

Expanding Google Storage quota

While Google is notorious in the IT industry for changing its services at short notice, we expect that large campus units such as SIO will be able to purchase blocks of 10TB of additional storage quota for about $2,000 per block. This would be an annual expense, and we may only be able to purchase such blocks a couple of times each year (but perhaps with the cost pro-rated so you only pay half at the mid-point of the license year). We would then be able to recharge portions of our SIO-wide quota to groups that are willing to pay for additional Google storage. For example, a group that wants to have access to 2TB of Google storage should budget $400 each year.

Because storage quota are assigned to individual accounts, there is overhead in making quota changes, and it's not clear yet how our campus will implement the management of these changes.

 

Microsoft OneDrive / TEAMS Files

All campus user accounts have access to the web-based Office 365 platform, which is Microsoft's alternative to Google Workspace. It includes not only programs such as Word Online and Excel Online (all less featured than their desktop counterparts) but also OneDrive for Business. It provides a significant free storage quota of 5TB per account and has quite similar features to Google Drive. You can store files via a web browser, but also access your OneDrive directly on your desktop. More information is available on Microsoft's website or you can log on to OneDrive via https://onedrive.ucsd.edu

Microsoft's counterpart to Google's Shared Drives is Teams Files, a standard feature included with every Team. (It is technically implemented as a SharePoint site, but the Teams interface is much easier to work with.) By default, however, each Team is limited to only 100GB in its Files, although ITS can increase this for individual Teams by request. However, quotas of more than 1TB will not be easy to get so it's not really a drop-in replacement for Google's Shared Drives.

Note that Teams is an interesting product with many capabilities for collaboration but it takes some time to learn how to use them. To login to Microsoft Teams please visit https://teams.microsoft.com/.

 

Scripps-Hosted Storage

Scripps IT has set up a Ceph cluster to provide affordable and robust storage options. It is primarily meant to be accessed from the campus network (via SMB, NFS or CephFS), but can also be made available to collaborators for online access via Secure FTP or Globus. The cost structure for Ceph is based on an initial per TB provisioning charge plus an essentially flat monthly support charge. Note that the option without backup is only available if you are using Ceph to store backups of data stored elsewhere, or if it's clearly data that can be reproduced if needed. The campus Cybersecurity Certification for Research program requires backups otherwise.

The one-time provisioning options are:

  • Slower Data with automated backups: $110 per TB 
  • Faster Data with automated backups: $165 per TB
  • No data and only backups: $55 per TB
     

You can mix-and-match as needed to meet your needs, and you increase your storage quota at any time by paying the appropriate one-time provisioning cost. 

The support charge is a flat monthly fee of $32 per 100TB of storage purchased. This is based on 20 minutes of our server group's hourly recharge rate and reflects the time we spend managing the cluster. Note that your data will not be deleted if you can't afford the monthly fee any more, but it will become read-only.

 

SDSC-HOSTED STORAGE

The San Diego Supercomputer Center has two relevant services. Neither is cheap but they offer local support and there should be no additional IDC costs.

Cloud Storage costs approximately $385 per TB per year and allows for easy online collaboration. More information can be found here

Universal Scale Storage costs only $70 per TB per year but requires a 200TB (or $14,000) buy-in and the data is only available on the campus network via the SMB protocol. For more information, please click here

 

Other CLOUD Storage Platforms

The Big Three cloud vendors (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform) all offer a number of cloud storage options, with the cost determined by how a number of factors, such as the data center(s) where copies are kept, how fast the underlying drives are, the speed with which you need to be able to retrieve data, and possible ingress/egress costs for all data uploaded/downloaded into their cloud. These options make it very difficult to provide a straightforward per TB price. You are supposed to manage your data carefully and move it to the cheapest suitable storage option each month. For reference: AWS can charge ~$250 per TB per year for fast S3 storage; or ~$50 when it's slow S3 Glacier archival storage; or only $12 for S3 Deep Archive when you don't ever expect to want to recover it. 

Better replacements for Google Storage are available from smaller cloud companies that specialize in online storage. Both of the following ones have been around for years:

Backblaze charges ~$70 per TB per year. More details are available on their web page: https://www.backblaze.com/b2/cloud-storage.html

Wasabi charges ~$72 per TB per year. More details are available on their web page: https://wasabi.com/cloud-storage-pricing/ . This page also provides great comparison pricing with AWS.
 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How to check data usage on a user or role account?

To view how much total storage a user or role account is currently using, visit the link below while logged on in your web browser with the relevant account. It will display how much is used by the account's Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.

https://drive.google.com/settings/storage

To get a list of your Google Drive files sorted by size, access the link below.

https://drive.google.com/drive/quota

To get a list of your larger Gmail messages, enter a query such as "larger_than:25MB" in the Search box of the Gmail web page, or access the link below to find any messages of at least this size. You can adjust the number as needed to find your largest messages.

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/larger_than%3A25MB

When you find large files or email messages that you don't need any more, you can simply delete them. If you want to keep a copy 'just in case', download them to your own computer before deleting them from your Google account. 

 

How to check data usage on a Shared Drive?

There is currently no way for users to see how much space their Shared Drives are using. This will likely change in the future, but for now you will need to contact Scripps IT to find out.

 

What happens when your account goes over quota?

When storage limits are enforced and a user exceeds their limit, their Google Workspace is impacted in the following ways:

  • They can’t upload new files or images to Google Drive.
  • They can’t create new files in collaborative content creation apps like Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Jamboard. Until they reduce storage usage, nobody can edit or copy their affected files or submit forms owned by the user.
  • They can't back up any photos and videos to Google Photos.
  • They can’t record new meetings in Google Meet.
  • They can still sign into and access their Google Workspace for Education account, view and download their files, and send and receive emails. Note: Users with Google Workspace licenses other than Education can’t send and receive emails when they exceed their storage limit.

(https://support.google.com/a/answer/12033430?hl=en&ref_topic=10431464)

 

What is the storage quota for the entire campus?

Every Google Workspace for Education domain receives 100TB for free, irrespective of the number of accounts in the domain. If an institution upgrades to "Google Workspace for Education Plus", it gets an extra 20GB for each student license (at about $4.25 per year) but has to license all students per the official enrollment numbers the institution has reported to the federal government. However, for every 4 student licenses it receives 1 free employee license that also gets 20GB of storage.

For our campus, there are roughly 40,000 students enrolled so we get about 10,000 free licenses for employees. This means that our total storage quota for the campus ends up being about 1.1PB (100TB + 20GB * 50,000 licensed Workspace Plus accounts). 

 

Does this apply to the legacy sio.ucsd.edu Google domain?

Yes, and the change already took effect there in July 2022. It is now limited to 100TB total storage across all of its accounts because we didn't purchase any Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses.

Note that we are slowly shutting down the sio.ucsd.edu Google domain, both because it doesn't allow full collaboration with the ucsd.edu domain and because campus is consolidating all existing Google domains to allow for centralized management and monitoring. 

 

Does this affect my personal Google account? 

No. It is not recommended however to store university data in personal accounts. It increases the odds of the data not being protected properly (per UC policy) and separately opens up access to your personal account in case anyone sues the university and demands to see all relevant records.

 

Why is Google making this change?

They haven't provided an official reason, but presumably they realized that educational institutions were making good use of the free, unlimited storage they had been given. For our campus, the total storage use for the ucsd.edu domain currently exceeds 7PB. Google is likely storing copies in at least three different data centers, with a certain amount of data redundancy within each data center as well. Our 7PB of data must end up being about 25PB for Google. This is an expensive amount of storage to provide for free. Multiply it by the number of universities and other educational institutions storing petabytes of data each, and the change makes quite a bit of sense from a commercial perspective.

 

Couldn't our campus have done more to keep unlimited storage?

No. Google's new storage policy for academic domains actually took effect in July 2022. They only made an exception for institutions that committed to a multi-year purchase of the Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses. Our campus did so even though it meant we are now paying about $200,000 per year for a platform that used to be free and used to include unlimited storage. Because of the multi-year commitment, however, the new storage policy only takes effect in June of 2024 for us.

Our campus team also worked with representatives from the other UC campuses that are major Google Workspace users (including Berkeley and UCLA) and other large universities (via the Internet2 consortium) to get the best pricing for the Education Plus licenses. But Google refused to provide an option to keep the unlimited storage feature.

 

How are other universities handling this?

Everyone is struggling with having to find alternative storage solutions and measures such as hard quota and removing the ability to create Shared Drives are standard. Here are a couple of examples ...