The University of Michigan announced Google Drive storage for students, faculty and staff will be decreased to 250 GB following Google’s decision to discontinue unlimited storage for all non-paying members. Alumni will have their storage decreased to 15 GB, the standard amount provided to a Google account. According to a statement from Information and Technology Services, the University decided providing 250 GB to each user was the best solution which balanced cost, change and finite resources.
According to ITS, the change affects less than 0.5% of students, less than 3% of active faculty and less than 10% of alumni and retirees. Though the decreased storage is projected to affect a small number of students, some are opposed to the change. LSA sophomore Ashrith Bandla told The Michigan Daily they feel the decision arose from greed on the part of Google.
“I honestly feel like this is a modern-day story of corporate greed in America,” Bandla said. “I feel like it’s a real travesty and a slap in the face to students. I think it’s a horrible, horrible decision.”
In an email to The Daily, ITS affirmed they had no choice when Google discontinued unlimited storage, explaining that unlimited storage is a thing of the past.
“Unlimited storage began in 2014, before Google offered 30GB per person,” ITS wrote. “As business models in the tech world evolve, users of the technology adapt. The University of Michigan is no exception. Currently, Google no longer offers unlimited storage to any of its education customers.”
LSA freshman Tawseef Rahman told The Daily they understand the necessity for the change, and said they only use a small amount of the allotted 250 GB.
“It doesn’t really affect me that much, because I’m just writing documents, making presentations and working on sheets, with the three core apps Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides,” Rahman said. “But I’m not storing like 500-page tax documents.”
In order to limit data usage, the University changed the process of creating shared drives on Jan. 3, requiring users to use the shared drive manager tool on the ITS website rather than allowing creation directly within Google Drive.
“(The change to shared drives) was done to enable better data lifecycle management, therefore positioning the institution to be better prepared to adapt to future technology changes,” ITS wrote in an email to The Daily.
According to the University’s ITS website, shared drives are used to store collaborative data and “are not for personal data.” The storage limit for U-M shared drives was also decreased to 15 GB, and most changes to shared drive administrative settings must be completed within the shared drive manager tool.
While Google Drive storage has been limited, other cloud storage solutions for active U-M students, faculty and staff include Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox. Though, according to ITS, these options have greater limitations on real-time collaboration than Google Drive does.
“Google Drive is recommended for collaboration within the U-M community,” ITS wrote. “It provides a secure environment within which to maintain or share the university’s sensitive unregulated data, as well as some—but not all—types of sensitive regulated data.”
As storage options change, students like Bandla view believe Google’s policies are trapping universities into using Google Suite.
“I feel like (Google) kind of trapped colleges into this mindset (of using Google) over … OneDrive by initially just keeping (unlimited storage) free,” Bandla said. “I feel like (Google) already had a plan to switch into this limited storage tier. It was just kind of like a gimmick for colleges to … switch over to Google Drive because (storage was) unlimited.”
Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at email@example.com.