What to Do When Google Drive Won’t Download Files

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Google Drive is certainly a great alternative to Dropbox and similar cloud storage services, especially if you have strong ties to a Google account.

For the most part, it works swimmingly, but every now and then you might run into a hiccup. One of the most common problems with Google Drive — and services like Google Docs or Sheets — is that files will not download, no matter what kind of permissions you have.

If you’re the owner or admin of a file, you should always be able to download and edit it, no questions asked. Naturally, it can be quite frustrating when this is not the case.

The good news is that most solutions are relatively painless, and can be done in just a few short minutes. If you are running into issues downloading files, folders or even content from Google Drive, then try some of these quick tips:

Why Can’t I Download From Google Drive?

The reason why you can download from Google Drive is that the download quota limit has been exceeded. If too many people have been trying to download a shared file, then it can reach its download quota limit which will prevent users from downloading the shared file for a few hours.

Another reason Google Drive won’t download files and documents is that there’s an error within the file storage and because of this error, Google Drive isn’t responding when you click the download button. Therefore, it won’t allow you to download the file.

What to Do If You Can’t Download From Google Drive

If you’re unable to download files from Google Drive, then there are a few things that you can do to fix the problem. Because this is being caused by a quota limit on the number of times that the file can be downloaded, you’ll need to bypass the limit so that you can download the file in your drive.

1. Download a Copy

To download a copy of the file that you can’t download from Google Drive, you need to get a sharable link to the file, organize it, make a copy, then download it. Doing this will give you a copy of the file that no one else can download, so it’s not possible for it to have exceeded the download quota since you’re the only one that has access to it.

1. Copy the link address obtained from the file-sharing feature in Google Drive.

add file to folder

2. Paste the link into the address bar and delete ‘&export=download‘. Once you’ve deleted this, replace ‘uc’ with the phrase ‘open‘ (all written without quotation marks). Enter this new link and it’ll direct you to another page that’ll have a Download button.

3. Click on the Google Drive icon. This is to the left of the print icon. This will allow you to add this item to your drive.

4. Click Organize and select a folder. This is the folder the file will be in whenever you need to access it.

5. Locate and right-click the file.make a copy

6. Select Make A Copy.download file

7. Right-click that file and select Download.

The idea behind the process that you went through is to get ownership of the file that you’re trying to download. It would appear that the limitations and rules on the use of Google drive is based on the collaborative nature for which it was intended.

Multiple downloads of big files through Google Drive puts a strain on the servers which can affect the experience for more than one person attempting to download the file.

2. Logout of Your Google Account

As frustrating as it may be to hear, one of the simplest solutions is to log out of your Google account and then log back in.

If you’re using Chrome, you may also need to clear your browser cache and cookies, which is another step listed below.

Sign out of google drive account

Assuming you’re already logged in to Google Drive, click on your avatar in the top right and then select the Sign Out button in the context menu that appears. Sign back into your Google account and try to download the file again and it should work.

3. Clear Your Browser Cache and Cookies

The next step is to clear the browser of all previous data related to Google Drive. To be safe, you’ll need to wipe all history, content, and cookies.

To do this, choose your browser and follow the provided instructions.

In Google Chrome:

Clear browsing history

  1. Select the menu button (three dots).
  2. Highlight the History sub-menu and select the History option.
  3. On the left, choose Clear Browsing Data.
  4. Choose Advanced in the popup window.
  5. Change the Time Range to All Time.
  6. Make sure the following boxes are ticked (they will be blue): Browsing History, Download History, Cookies and Other Site Data, Cached Images, and Files, Hosted App Data.
  7. Click the blue Clear Data button.
  8. Go back to Google Drive and download the file.

In Firefox:

  1. Select the library button  (second from the left).
  2. Select History and then Clear Recent History.
  3. A popup will appear with the option to choose a time range and what content you want to clear.
  4. Change the drop-down to Everything and make sure to check every box under Historyis checked (Browsing and Download History, Cookies, Active Logins, Cache, Form and Search History).
  5. Select Clear Now.
  6. Go back to Google Drive and download the file.

In Internet Explorer:

  1. Click the settings (gear) icon in the top right.
  2. Choose Internet Options.
  3. In the General tab and under Browsing History, select the Delete… button.
  4. Untick the box next to Preserve Favorites Website Data.
  5. Make sure the following boxes are ticked: Temporary Internet Files and Website Files, Cookies and Website Data, History, and Download History.
  6. Select the Delete button.
  7. Go back to Google Drive and download the file.

In Safari:

  1. Open the Preferences dialog box.
  2. Select the Privacy icon (hand) from the list on the top.
  3. Click the Manage Website Data button.
  4. Find Google Drive in the list, highlight it, and then click the Remove button at the bottom of the sub-menu; to be thorough, it’s also a good idea to do the same for other Google-related entries you find.
  5. Alternatively, you can select the Remove All button to clear all cookies, cache, and content files.

After you’ve cleared your browsing history and cache, open Google Drive in your browser again and log in. Try downloading a file that you could not previously. If it works, congrats you’re up and running again. If it doesn’t work, keep reading.

4. Download as a Random User

Sometimes, for whatever reason, Google registers that too many users are trying to access a file even when you’re only using one account at a time. This problem happens a lot when more than one person or user relies on the same browser.

There are two ways to approach this. Simply log out of Google and then open a new window using the shareable link for the file you wish to download.

Option two, open an incognito window and use the same shareable link. If you use an incognito window, you don’t have to sign-out of your Google account elsewhere.

But first, you need that shareable link.

  1. Find the file or document you wish to download in Drive.get shareable link
  2. Right-click on the file name or icon, and choose Get Shareable Link from the drop-down menu.Link sharing on
  3. In the new dropdown, make sure Link Sharing is enabled (it will be green); below it, you should see the public URL or link for the shared file.
  4. Highlight the link and either press CTRL+C (CMD+C on MAC), or right-click and choose Copy.

The shareable link will now save to the clipboard, and you can paste it in the nav bar of your preferred browser.

Bottom Line

All said and done, fixing the Google Drive download problem is relatively simple. You can either log out and back in, clear your cache and cookies or download the file as an anonymous user.

Because it’s a cloud storage service, there are fewer local steps involved outside of reinitializing data or content.

If you’ve tried all these solutions yet still cannot get your file(s) to download, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help!

Briley is a freelance writer and has been writing for over 10 years. The former journalist now content writer currently writes for Techzillo and focuses on consumer tech in general. His main interests include video games and consumer technology. He also writes for websites such as Lifewire, and Digital Trends. Read our Editorial Guidlines and Fact Checking process.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Just download with google drive app and phone them export via usb of ftp app to save all the hassle of this.

  2. Gdrive signs me out after every download, I have to refresh after each to download another file, it’s a pain

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