Google no longer provides unlimited storage for educational institutions. Why? Cloud storage requires servers and electricity. And, as data traffic grows, so will the use of fossil fuels. Growing cloud resources are particularly energy intensive accounting for 4% of global electricity consumption and 1% of global greenhouse emissions. The expectation of unlimited free storage is now unrealistic as companies, like Google, seek to reduce costs and lessen environmental impacts.
All of us at Williams will need to do our part to limit growth by “decluttering our digital lives” through data/records management, stewardship, and reducing our footprint. Some of the data you are storing may be records and/or essential for your time here at Williams. Other files may be inactive, less important, and possibly just taking up digital space.
Williams needs to reduce our current storage use before January 1 2024 when Google’s new limits will apply to us. We will attain that objective in several ways.
What are the next steps?
- Quotas: We implemented quotas on Faculty/Staff accounts, Student accounts and Shared Drives in order to reign in unchecked growth. However, we will provide the option to increase those quotas when appropriate.
- Remove accounts: Cautiously, we will be deleting old accounts which are taking up significant storage while being careful to not delete any important files or records (based on legal, fiscal, or historical requirements) those accounts may be sharing.
- "Spring Cleaning"/ digital file management: OIT, in partnership with the records management program (Libraries) and the Records Manager & Digital Resources Archivist, works with individuals, offices, and departments to evaluate data use and set up efficient workflows to organize files that are no longer active, using our information management policy as a guide. We need *you* to self-curate by managing your data footprint, which includes deleting unwanted or obsolete files. The Records Manager is available for personal archiving consultations, records management site visits, and questions pertaining to what to dispose of and/ or keep.
- Records of the college: In the process of organizing your digital files and email please adhere to office/ departmental records retention schedules and the College's General Records Retention Schedule. These schedules define records and non-records and how long to keep them in accordance to the Board of Trustees approved Policy Management of College Records. Records of vital historical, fiscal, or legal importance must be saved and/or transferred to the Records Manager for digital preservation.
- Records & Data Management Trainings: Stay tuned for upcoming digital file and email management trainings, Declutter Your Digital Life, with the Records Manager (sponsored by Libraries and OIT). For other recorded trainings and information about digital file management please review the Records Management website.
- In the meantime, here is our Digital File Retention Cheat Sheet! Email, PDF, tweet, TiTok, photo, Mp4. It doesn't matter-- follow this!
First check what is in your Google Drive since that will likely be a much larger use of data storage than Gmail or Photos.
- Total storage used https://drive.google.com/settings/storage
- To start deleting or moving data see your files listed from largest to smallest.
- If you do start deleting files DO NOT remove any files which show the Shared Drive icon circled below. These are files in Shared Drives which you have rights to but you may not be the primary caretaker. When in doubt, don’t try to manage these. They are not counting against your own personal quota. Please pay attention to your office or department's records retention schedule or the General Records Retention Schedule of the College.
File is in a Shared Drive - you do not own it
File is in your Drive, you own it, but shared with someone
- The icon that looks like two people indicates that you have shared the file with someone. Consider whether the person you shared it with will miss it. You could ask them to download it or make a copy which they own, then you delete it.
- Move the files you don't want or are not required to keep in your Trash, then permanently delete them.
- If you see personal files consider downloading them to your computer and uploading them to your personal Google account or external hard drive. Students will need to do this anyway before graduating.
- If you end up moving files to a personal gmail account be aware of storage tiers and plans: Plans & Pricing - Google One . Dropbox, Box, Apple iCloud and Microsoft Live Onedrive have similar plans.
- Within 24 hours deleted items will reflect available space in your Google Drive account.
Faculty and Staff will get 150gb by default. Accounts which were already over 150 have been put in quota groups with at least 15% room to grow. Limits can be adjusted as needed. Student accounts are set to 15gb by default.
When you go to Google Drive or to your quota page you will be warned regarding "low storage." Keep in mind you still likely have plenty of space to add files, as this warning kicks in a 80% capacity. With a standard 150gb limit you would still have 30gb of space remaining at the first warning. If you feel you will need more space please contact OIT at [email protected] for a consult to assess if an increase if warranted. We can also assist with offloading data (either deleting or saving). Files in Google Drive which you do not access frequently, which are inactive, and are not shared with anyone are good candidates to be saved on your desktop or external hard drive. For inactive digital files that are vital records of the college, please reach out to the Records Manager, to discuss inactive records digital preservation plans.
We need to work together to keep our campus data below the limit by following good records/ information management and keep all of our accounts functioning fully! Unfortunately, if we hit our campus limit, the only Google App that will continue to function is Gmail.
As we thoughtfully manage our digital storage, our impact will be a positive one for both Williams and the planet.
If you have questions about managing what to keep and what to dispose of or would like to update your office or department’s records retention schedule the Records Manager is happy to meet with you!
For general data questions and queries about size limitations, please reach out to our student support desk.
Records Management Program at Williams
Tutorial on Email Management, Retention, and Disposition
Academic Departments: what to keep and what to throw away
Committees and Digital File Management
How to Transfer Digital Files to the Records Manager Using Google Drive
General information from Google about storage and management strategies