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Computer screens displaying Microsoft OneDrive and Google Storage.

How to prepare for Google storage limits and file migrations

Submitted by stauffeg on Mon, 10/17/2022 - 4:13 PM

If you have some confusion or questions about the effort underway to repurpose CU Boulder’s Google Storage, you’re not alone. OIT has been receiving feedback and questions about the effort to reduce the campus’s pooled storage and planned migration of non-Google format files. We have answers to some of the most common questions below under the Frequently asked questions heading.


First, some background

As OIT has communicated over the past two years, Google has set new file storage limits on universities across the country. CU Boulder is highly impacted by this limit because we use over 12 times the amount Google allotted for CU Boulder based on our institution’s size. Since Google’s announcement, OIT has collaborated with campus stakeholders and other universities to develop a storage reduction plan. The first step was to ask our community members to reduce their Google Drive storage use proactively. If you’ve reduced your Google Drive storage, thank you!
While this proactive storage reduction was in progress, OIT performed targeted reductions, disabled Google Photos, set 5 gigabyte (GB) quotas on Drives using less than 4 GB, and prioritized the use of Google Workspace Apps strictly for CU Boulder faculty, staff, researchers, and students. 
The next step is for OIT to migrate non-Google format files (e.g. PDFs, Word and Excel documents, images, videos, etc.) off of Google Drives that are utilizing over 5 GB of storage and set a 5 GB quota on these Drives. These files will be migrated to CU Boulder Microsoft OneDrive accounts.


Frequently asked questions

Q: Why do we need to reduce what we have stored in Google?
A: Google’s decision to end unlimited storage for the education community has resulted in CU Boulder being allowed much less free storage—12 times less at the moment—than the campus consumes today. The choice was made to offload excess Google storage to CU Boulder’s Microsoft service so that students, faculty and staff can continue to use Google for its intended purpose (collaboration) without resulting in an exponentially larger expense that the campus is not resourced to fund.

Q: Can I keep using Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides to collaborate?
A: Yes! Google Workspace Apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides will still be available for CU Boulder faculty, staff, and students. Google format files like Docs are generally lightweight and don't take up too much space, unless they contain many embedded photos or videos. These file types will stay in your Google Drive and not be migrated to OneDrive.
Q: Can I keep non-Google format files in Google?
A: It depends. If your Google storage exceeds 5 GB, your non-Google format files like PDFs, photos, videos, Microsoft documents, etc., will be moved by OIT to your Microsoft OneDrive during an upcoming migration. If your Google storage is under 5 GB at the time of migrations, none of your files will be moved. Here’s where you can check your Google Storage. Please note, you must be logged into Google with your CU Boulder credentials ( and IdentiKey password) to see your CU Boulder Google storage. 
Q: Why is 5 GB the cutoff point for migration?
A: Under Google’s new storage model, our campus has been given a quota that is pooled and shared evenly among all students, faculty and staff. The 5 GB quota for accounts allows the pooled storage to remain under our new Google allowance and have some room for growth as larger groups of students are admitted and the ranks of faculty or staff grow.
Q: Am I expected to move my own non-Google files to Microsoft OneDrive?
A: No. For currently affiliated students, faculty, staff and researchers who have Google accounts that exceed 5 GB, OIT will provide automatic migration of all non-Google format files to the owner’s Microsoft OneDrive.
Q: Can I opt out of the automatic migration even if my Google Storage exceeds 5 GB? 
A: No. If your Google Storage exceeds 5 GB you will be added to a migration group and told when your files will be migrated; however, if you are able to reduce your storage under 5 GB before you are added to a migration group, your files will not be moved. If this is your goal, you should make sure you reduce your storage under 5 GB (and keep it there) before the end of October. Here is how to download files from your Google Drive to your computer or another storage locationPlease note that university records must be managed per university policy. The OIT website provides storage recommendations based on data requirements.
Q: When will migrations take place?
A: Migrations are expected to start before the end of the fall 2022 semester and continue into the spring 2023 semester. OIT will attempt to migrate all faculty and staff with their respective departments and Strategic Resources and Support units will be the first to be migrated. The migrations will be conducted in a manner that minimizes impact to students and academic units until after the fall semester concludes.
Q: Will I be able to access and use files during the migration of my non-Google files?
A: Yes. While your migration is in progress, you will be able to access and use your files in Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. Once a file has been moved from Google Drive to OneDrive, it will be deleted in Google to avoid file conflicts and duplication. More details about file migration will be shared with you prior to your migration and are also available on the Google Drive Migrations page.

Q: What is the future of CU Boulder’s Gmail service?
Starting in Fall 2023 and continuing onward in a phased approach, all faculty, staff, and students, will transition to exclusively use Microsoft Exchange for email. Gmail is no longer offered as an alternative email delivery location in accordance with the OIT Major Projects and Service Direction initiative and CU Boulder accounts on Gmail will be moved to Microsoft Exchange during this transition period. Learn more about OIT’s email and calendar direction.


More information and support

We have answered many more common questions on the Google Storage Limitations FAQ page. And as we pointed out above, the Google Drive Migrations page sets expectations for the move of non-Google format files and our Google Storage Limitations page provides more background for this effort. If your questions still aren’t answered by these resources, please contact the IT Service Center at or 303-735-4357.