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How an administrator can monitor Google Workspace storage

Routine monitoring of Workspace storage not only helps an administrator identify major changes in individual and shared Drive storage usage, but also helps ensure that accounts stay within storage limits.

A Google Workspace admin page on a computer.
Photo: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

A Google Workspace administrator has at least two main reasons to track Workspace storage usage: to monitor usage against storage limits and to identify significant changes in usage. Workspace administrators may especially want to monitor usage if the organization has a subscription such as Google Workspace Business Starter, which limits storage to 30 GB per user.

While 30 GB may be sufficient for many purposes, it is significantly less than the pooled storage of 2 TB per user, 5 TB per user, or the near-unlimited storage available with other plans. Total usage includes not only Drive storage, but also email and photo storage.

Periodic storage monitoring can also alert an administrator to changes in individual or shared Drive storage usage. For example, a sudden increase in storage usage could be due to accidental deletion of data, while a significant decrease could indicate a massive transfer of video files. Any change may merit additional research and discussion.

These kinds of changes in storage usage remain a concern even when storage limits are not a limitation in themselves, such as with Workspace Enterprise plans, which provide as much storage as your organization needs.

SEE: Hiring Kit: Cloud Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

Review Google Workspace storage

A Google Workspace administrator with the appropriate privileges wants to sign in to the Admin console and then select Storage — from the menu on the left or from the Storage box on the main dashboard.

In the Admin console, the Storage section displays the total storage space used with a breakdown of data stored in specific services, such as Google Drive, Gmail, and Photos, as shown in Image A. Two subpanels provide an overview of the major uses of storage. One is sorted by user accounts and the other by shared drives. This helps you identify certain people and teams that use a lot of storage space.

Image A

The storage area in the Admin console displays the total storage space used.  In addition, the system shows both users and shared drives that are using the most storage space.
The storage area in the Admin console displays the total storage space used. In addition, the system shows both users and shared drives that are using the most storage space.

I suggest an administrator checks this information on a monthly basis. This routine check can help identify major changes over time so that accidentally deleted data can be easily recovered, as most Google services retain data moved to the trash for 30 days.

Set storage limits for Google Workspace

Select Manage, as indicated by the arrow in Figure A, if you want to configure storage limits for your organization. You can manage limits separately for each organizational unit. For example, you might prefer not to set limits for full-time employees, but choose to set storage limits for an organizational unit configured with all part-time or temporary employees. Similarly, a school administrator can choose to set different limits for teachers, staff, or students.

First, make sure you’ve selected the organizational unit you want, as in Figure Bwhere the Users, Groups, and Organizational Units column appears.

Figure B

A Google Workspace administrator can choose to set an organizational unit storage limit for individual accounts or shared drives.
A Google Workspace administrator can choose to set an organizational unit storage limit for individual accounts or shared drives.

You can then enable limits for users or shared drives. The user storage limit allows you to ensure that no individual user in the selected organizational unit can exceed a certain amount of storage space. Note that the limit is the total amount of data stored in an account’s Google Drive, Gmail, Photos, and other Workspace-associated apps.

You can also choose to limit the size of data stored in shared drives for the selected organizational unit. A shared drive size limit can be useful to ensure teams don’t use shared drives for large amounts of data. In some cases, this may be of particular importance to organizations that rely on shared drivers for external collaboration.

What is your experience with Workspace storage?

If you’re a Google Workspace admin, how often do you monitor storage usage for your organization? Have you chosen to set storage limits for a part of your organization, for groups of users, or for shared drives? How often do you contact individual users or shared disk administrators to discuss significant storage changes identified as a result of routine storage reviews? Mention or message me on Mastodon (@awolber) to let me know how to monitor and manage Google Workspace storage for your organization.

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