This blog post contains important information regarding your Google account storage and offers some best practices that will help keep your files safe, organized, and easily accessible.

While Google storage has been historically free and unlimited to higher education institutions, Google’s new storage policy has prompted Colgate to take a closer look at current practices of file storage. This creates an opportunity to engage in a conversation about keeping institutional data decluttered, safe, and secure while also keeping business continuity and institutional integrity in mind.

Individual Google Storage

The Google storage model over the years may have led many to “save it and forget it.” Those forgotten files can collectively add up across our organization creating a large amount of unneeded data. 

You can view a summary of your Google storage consumption, including a list of Google Drive files, here:

Given the importance of finding the best and most accurate documents, below are some best practices to consider:

  • Keep personal files, such as photos, in your own personal Google account. For example, many phones may be unintentionally syncing photos and other files to your Colgate Google account.
  • If you own a file that you would consider important for business continuity, consider moving that file to a Google Shared Drive (see next section below). 
  • If you have a duplicate of a particular file, or an older version that is now obsolete, consider deleting those older files. However, please also consider that there may be situations where it is valuable to have older versions of files. 
  • If you have files that have not been accessed in several years and have no continuing value, you might consider deleting those files.
  • Keeping your data cleaned and organized is not a one-time event, but a continual process. Consider including regular opportunities to review and assess needs as part of your work.
  • Your inbox can also be the home to some large attachments that you may not need.
  • To find emails with large file attachments in your inbox, type: has:attachment larger:10M in the search box. You can adjust the “10” to filter by the number of megabytes. Most emails without attachments are no larger than 1M. Emails with attachments greater than 5M are considered much larger than normal. Select the emails you don’t need and delete them.
  • Deleted files and emails will remain in the trash for 30 days, after which they will be permanently deleted. 
  • Consider creating folders and sub-folders (and adding descriptions to each), standardizing your naming conventions, use color or stars (even emojis), and regularly audit your files and structure. Common standards include inclusion of the year in the document title.


Google Shared Drives

While network storage on campus was introduced years ago, and is still an option for intradepartmental file sharing, we encourage departments to use Google Shared Drives instead. This method of storage allows departments or teams to control their own file access, simplify business continuity, and encourage the use of collaborative features. Many departments on campus are using shared drives. If you’re not, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Shared drives put departments in the driver seat — the assigned managers of each drive control access and permission level.
  • Files are collectively owned, so employee retirements or transfers won’t hinder access, and ownership of those files is retained by the department after their departure.

New Google Shared Drives can be requested from the ITS service desk.

Other Forms of Data Storage

As a matter of best practice, please remember that storing a single copy of a file on a computer’s hard drive, or having one copy of a file on an external hard drive or thumb drive, carries a great deal of risk. If damage, theft, or loss occurs, those files can be lost forever, or important and confidential data could end up in the wrong hands.

The ITS service desk can provide consultation for storage best practices.

Data Compliance and Additional Guidance

Stored data should always comply with our acceptable use and data storage policies. ITS is committed to supporting the academic research and business needs of the University — Google is just one option. 

Additional support can be found on our Google Storage FAQ page. For any other questions or concerns, please reach out to the ITS service desk.