Gmail and Google Apps limits every admin should know
By Harsh Vardhan
Like any other cloud / SAAS offering, Google imposes limits on various functions such as the number or emails you can send every day, or the size of a spreadsheet. This is done, in Google’s words, to ‘keep our systems healthy and your accounts safe’.
While most small businesses are unlikely to ever come up against these limits, it’s within the realm of possibility that this happens. For example, your sales team may suddenly discover that they’re not being allowed to send out any more emails, or your product design department may run out of storage space.
As an administrator tasked with ensuring your users enjoy unfettered access to all business IT systems they need to carry out their responsibilities, this is something you should be aware of - so you can inform your users well in advance, and can also take steps to ward off or mitigate the effects of any service suspension.
In this article, we’ll examine the limits and restrictions Google places on various Google Apps offerings, from Gmail and Google Drive to Contacts and the Gmail API.
I. Gmail API II. Google Calendar API III. Google Tasks API IV. Google Apps Script
1. Gmail limits - sending, receiving, and more
I. Sending & Receiving Limits
Gmail lets users send 2000 emails a day, with each message restricted to 2000 recipients in all. Also, keep in mind that this outgoing address-per-message limit applies only to internal accounts, and your users can add 500 addresses as recipients of each email. In all, messages can be sent out to 300 individual external recipients over each rolling 24-hour period. Google Apps users can receive up to 60 messages each minute, with a maximum of 3600 messages each hour and 86,400 in any 24-hour period.
Note: Google recommends that for sending large amounts of email (as part of a mailing list or for an email sales campaign), your users turn to third-party offerings on the Google Apps marketplace or use customised apps based on the Google App Engine.
Head over to Google Apps support pages for more information on Sending and Receiving limits.
II. Bandwidth & Sync limits
Google also sets out bandwidth restrictions on your usage. If you’re using the web client, you can download 750MB each hour, and a maximum of 1250MB each day. At the same time, uploads are capped at 300MB per hour and 500MB per day. Apart from this, you should also be aware of the 25MB attachment limit for every Gmail message. It is recommended that you use Google Drive or other services such as Dropbox to transfer large amounts of data or attachments.
Note: The bandwidth consumed may not be immediately evident as this is affected by the other apps you use - the Gmail mobile app, Google Apps Sync for Outlook, and the Gmail Offline app for Chrome will all contribute towards this limit.
III. IMAP Limits
Usage via IMAP clients is subject to other restrictions as well. For example, messages can be sent to only up to 100 recipients at once (including To, CC, and BCC fields). Apart from this, there are bandwidth restrictions as well, which set limits on the data you can download from the servers each day - 2500MB (IMAP) and 1250MB (POP).
For more details on the bandwidth, IMAP, and POP restrictions imposed by Google Apps, check out this Google Apps support link.
2. Google Apps storage and Google Drive space limitations
I. How much storage space do you get by default?
Google Apps for Work accounts give each user 30GB of space, while Google Apps Unlimited does not put any restriction on the space available to your users.
Your Gmail messages (including any messages in the Spam or Trash), files on Google Drive (except Google Sheets, Docs and Slides) and Google Photos (if saved on the ‘original size’ setting) will count towards your space quota.
Note: Files other users have shared with you do not count towards your storage quota.
You can find more information on Google Apps storage limits here.
II. How to increase storage space
If your users want more space, you have 3 options:
Upgrade to Google Apps Unlimited for unlimited storage space
Purchase more storage licenses via your Admin console, and assign the new licenses to specific users
Your users can also purchase individual Drive storage if the option is enabled in Admin Console
Read more about how to add more storage space to your users’ accounts here.
III. File size limits
Google Drive puts a 5TB restriction on the maximum file size for any data your users wish to store. Apart from this, there are separate restrictions on the sizes of Google’s own formats (Docs, Spreadsheets, etc). See 3 .(V) for more details on this.
3. Limits and usage quotas for other Google Apps tools
Users are barred from creating ‘too many events’ (over 10,000) in an unspecified ‘short time’. Any user exceeding this limitation will use edit access and will only have read-only access. Apart from this, Google won’t let you create more than 25 new calendars (with the same, ‘short time’ proviso), and also prohibits sending more than 100 to 300 (actual limit is unspecified) event invites to external guests. Please note that this restriction on Calendar invitation does not apply to your own primary or secondary domain.
Note: Google also has limits in place for sharing calendars but says, “It’s almost impossible to reach this limit by updating sharing settings manually, but it can happen with some API-based tools or third-party apps.”
For more information on Google Calendar restrictions, check out this Google help page.
Very heavy users of Gmail have another issue to consider - limits placed on Google Contacts. You can save up to 25,000 contacts in your account, with total storage space for contacts limited to 20MB (User photos do not count towards this). Apart from this, other restrictions include: a maximum of 500 fields, 1024 character limit for each field, and 128KB storage for each contact. Also, each user has access to 50,000 shared external contacts.
Note: Your users can also access contacts via the domain-wide Google Apps Directory. This is limited to 50,000 contacts (including external and internal contacts). Other restrictions apply as well; click here for Directory API-related information.
Hangouts may have started off as a consumer chat app, but it’s also used by many businesses. Do make your users aware that if they’re planning on using Hangouts for collaboration via video calls, each call is limited to a maximum of 15 participants.
IV. Google Groups
Google Groups are a favoured tool for supporting a community around your product - whether for clients and external users, or your employees. This useful collaboration tool also has several restrictions in place; A few of these are - 300 email messages every 5 minutes; users can send a maximum of 1800 messages per hour to a specific group; and there can be 5000 external message recipients per group per day.
Google Docs: Files are limited to 1,024,000 characters, while files converted from other formats have a 50MB limitation.
Google Sheets: You can have a maximum of 2 million cells in a Google Sheet. Additionally, anyone intending to use a Sheet for heavy number crunching should be aware that Google Sheets will time out of if the calculations and formulas become too complex. While no limit has been explicitly laid out, Google will warn you that your spreadsheet is about to hit its limits.
Slides: Each presentation (including those converted to Google Slides) can be a maximum of 100MB.
4. Usage quotas for the Google Apps API
I. Gmail API
If you’re using apps (especially custom ones) that hook into Google’s APIs, you’ll need to take special care to ensure uninterrupted service The Gmail API has a 1,000,000,000 quota units per day limit, with a per-user-per-second limit of 250 quota units. Quota units are calculated according to the API calls you use. for example, ‘labels.list’ has a quota of 1, while ‘drafts.send’ has been assigned a quota of 100.
For more detailed information on how various API functions effect to your quota, head over to the Gmail API Usage Limits page.
II. Google Calendar API
The Google Calendar API has a limit of 1,000,000 queries per day; however it is also possible to request a hike in this quota via your Developer Console.
III. Google Tasks API
Google Tasks may very well be one of the least popular Google Apps tools, mainly in part due to the limited functionality it offers. However, if your organisation uses the Tasks API for your custom apps, you’ll have to stick to a 50,000 queries a day limit.
IV. Google Apps Script
Google Apps Script is an easy way to extend the functionality of various Google Apps services by letting you develop add-ons for your employees. Using Apps Script also brings new limitations to the table - for example, only 1500 Google Docs documents can be created each day, while you can add up to 2,000 contacts a day.