How to Manage Storage Changes in Google Workspace for Education

When it comes to cloud services, storage space is often taken for granted. But now that Google has announced new limitations to its storage policy, Google Workspace for Education users are scrambling to account for the implications.

But don’t worry — there’s plenty to be done about cloud storage. Key to mitigating these changes is understanding exactly why Google storage is changing, how its new policy will impact your school district, and what you can do to optimize storage space in your own cloud environment.

Why Google is changing your cloud storage limit

It’s safe to say that Google’s announcement will ruffle the feathers of nearly every school district. The few districts that exclusively operate in Microsoft Office will be unaffected by the change.

But the vast majority of districts — at least 83% according to EdWeek Research Center — are a Google Workspace for Education customer. That means since its initial release as Google Apps for Education (and later G Suite for Education) in 2006, many schools have grown accustomed to free and unlimited cloud storage.

Starting in July of 2022, however, this will no longer be the case. Now, Google cloud storage will be limited to 100 TB of data per Education customer, shared across every single Google app provided by Workspace. This means that every type of data produced in your Google account — whether it be a Google Doc, Google Sheet, Google Chat, or anything else — will now count toward that capacity.

During their initial announcement, Google explained their rationale:

“Google has traditionally offered unlimited storage to qualifying schools and universities for free,” the company said. “However, as we’ve grown to serve more schools and universities each year, storage consumption has also rapidly accelerated.”

In other words, it’s simply unsustainable for Google Drive to offer unlimited cloud storage any longer. By DOMO’s estimate, over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily, with that figure rising exponentially.

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What is Google actually changing?

As mentioned, Google is limiting cloud storage to 100 TB of data per customer. The company claims this is enough storage space for approximately 100 million documents, 8 million presentations or 400,000 hours of video.

Google is calling this a “pooled storage” policy. In basic terms, this means that storage is shared by every single user in your school district. Therefore, every bit of data created by each Google account will count toward the 100 TB limit.

Notably, files that are shared into your school district won’t impact storage. For example, an externally received email attachment won’t contribute to your allotted storage space, but any communications sent internally (originating within your school district) will.

Here’s another critical change: Any file that was created and existed before these changes won’t count toward the limit as long as they aren’t modified. If you access an old document and edit its contents, it will now be held up to that capacity.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t offer any way to add additional storage outside of upgrading your Google Workspace for Education subscription. Here’s how each edition breaks down in terms of storage capacity:

  • Fundamentals: Free with 100 TB of pooled storage.
  • Standard: 100 TB of pooled storage.
  • Teaching and Learning Upgrade: 100 TB plus 100 GB of additional storage per license.
  • Education Plus: 100 TB of pooled storage, plus 20 GB added per license.

If you’re an institution with more than 20,000 students, faculty, or staff, you may be eligible for an additional 5 GB of baseline storage space for every active user. Otherwise, your only option is to upgrade to Education Plus or manage the cloud storage you already have on hand.

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How to manage storage limits in your school district

According to Google, 100 TB is more than enough capacity for 99% of institutions. That said, data is growing everyday and storage limits could pose a significant challenge for school districts with rapidly accelerating cloud environments.

Why? Because your Google cloud storage may be quickly filling up with unseen sources of data. There are many ways students and staff might be using school-provided cloud services that are rapidly eating away at your storage space. For example, it’s not uncommon for students to store especially large video files or photo albums in their Google Drive.

The good news is that there’s an easy fix. With the right tools, you can monitor your cloud environment, optimize storage space and rid your Google cloud of unnecessary files. That’s one of the often overlooked capabilities of a cloud data loss prevention (DLP) solution.

Cloud DLP software isn’t only concerned with data security or privacy. They’re also effective at tidying up your cloud environment of anything that occupies too much space. If an old document is mistakenly modified, for example, you can quickly identify it and prevent it from counting against your pooled storage capacity. By extension, cloud DLP is especially useful for identifying inappropriate or non-educational content, such as pirated movie files or saved video streams.

At ManagedMethods, we know that storage limits are a growing concern. That’s why we designed our out-of-the-box cloud security platform to simplify storage management and allow you to focus on other critical tasks, such as mitigating risk and protecting student data.

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