Will Google ever run out of storage space?

From humble beginnings as a modest search engine project in the 90s, Google has grown into a household name and a multinational brand with a large user base. According to Statista, more than 260 million US-based visitors visited Google websites in July 2022 alone.

With such a large user base, it is natural that the company’s databases also become huge. How much data does Google store in its databases and what are the chances that it will run out of storage at some point?

How much data does Google store in its databases?


Image credit: Simon Law/Flickr

Since this number is increasing every day and Google remains pretty tight-lipped about it, the exact number is unknown. However, experts have predicted that Google is likely to store ten to fifteen exabytes of data on its servers around the world. By comparison, an exabyte is one million terabytes, and a terabyte is one thousand gigabytes.

Some technologists have estimated that all the words spoken by humans since the creation of mankind would amount to only five exabytes. Google potentially has more data stored in its banks than all the words humans have spoken.

Why does Google need so much storage space? To store the huge amount of data that Google has on hand. These include current and historical map data, device backups, cached pages, Gmail, YouTube, search data, ad and media data, and data from the Google Play Store, Google Drive, Google Books, and more.

This figure becomes more realistic if you consider that Google offers 15 GB of space to each free Gmail account user. Given these numbers, Google theoretically has enough space for each user to store their entire digital life on their servers and still have room for a few cat videos.

It’s worth pointing out that these numbers are only estimates, and Google’s storage banks may be significantly larger or smaller in reality. Also, be sure to check out Google’s Best News Moments of 2022.

Has Google ever run out of storage space?

Given that it stores a huge amount of information, it makes us wonder if Google has already exhausted its banks. If it has happened once before, there is an increased probability that it will happen again.

But has Google ever had low storage issues before? The answer is both yes and no. According to India Today, Google has indeed run out of storage space before, but not to store user data. Nevertheless, the problem had a significant impact on all its services.

In 2020, the authentication tools used by Google across its platform could no longer find storage space, causing the system to crash several times. It took 45 minutes for Google to fix the problem.

Active measures taken by Google to conserve storage space

A screenshot of Google One's storage manager page

Google has a lot of data and it is growing every day. In a company as big as Google, even small savings can go a long way. So what measures is Google taking to save storage space?

  1. Compression: Google uses compression to save space, especially in its Photos service. Since free users only have 15 GB shared between Photos, Google Drive, and Gmail, they are encouraged to use less space by choosing “High Quality” instead of original quality when downloading videos and photos. images on Google Photos. The “High Quality” setting compresses images to 16 MP and videos to 1080p HD or less. Compression saves space for both Google and the user.
  2. File Cleaner/Storage Manager: Google offers file cleanup options to help users save storage space through Google One’s storage management. This storage manager provides users with cleaning suggestions that make it easier for them to free up space on their Google Account. Here are also some of our best tips for freeing up storage space on your Google Drive.
  3. Automatic deletion of outdated ad data: When you search the web, you leave traces of your activity. Google collects this information to build a profile of you and show you targeted ads based on your interests. By default, Google automatically clears location history and activity data older than 18 months for accounts created after June 2020. Although activity and tracking data do not count toward the 15 GB allocated to users for free, deleting them saves the company space.
  4. Delete all content if the storage quota is exceeded two years in a row.: Google’s storage policy states that accounts that exceed the storage quota for two years or more without attempting to return below can have all of their content removed from the platform entirely.

Many of us are die-hard fans of Google, maybe not of the company, but of the products it offers. So here’s a list of the Google products we’re looking forward to in 2023.

Will Google ever run out of storage space?

The answer, as you might expect, is no. A company of Google’s size and scale cannot be limited by storage space for an extended period of time. In fact, it can simply scale its systems by adding more and better hard drives and building more server farms.

Although Google suffered a crash in 2020 because their authentication servers ran out of storage, it did not affect the space for their users. While this is just a guess on our part, it’s likely that Google simply reallocated space from its data servers to the authentication service to get it running again.

The Internet probably has more challenges to face in the future. That Google is running out of storage space is probably not one of them, though.

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