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I want to publicly share a link to a Google Sheet for viewing only (not editing). Is there a maximum number of people who will be able to view the sheet simultaneously?

This is a Google document on my personal Google Drive that will be shared via a "share link" that allows anyone with the link to view, but not edit it. The data in the sheet is complete and only occasionally will I edit it for changes. It is expected that a few thousand people will be viewing it.

I am aware (as Rubén point out) that: "Up to 100 people with view, edit, or comment permissions can work on a Google Sheet ... at the same time."

But only I may be working on the sheet. If 100 people are only viewing it, how would Google even know this? What is to stop 100 more people from going to the same link? It does not seem likely that constant pings are being sent back to Google when a Sheet is on someone's screen.

Viewers of my Google Sheet will only be browsing and scrolling the page. When they first come to the page, they will likely choose a tab for the sheet they need.

In that quote above from Google support, is also: "When more than 100 people are accessing a file, only the owner and some users with editing permissions can edit the file."

So this seems to indicate that YES, more than 100 people can view it, but editing is then limited to just a few.

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  • Welcome to Web Applications. Please add a brief description of your search/research efforts as is suggested in How to Ask. Oct 8, 2020 at 0:08
  • Please add more details about the specific usage scenario.... Are you planning to share a spreadsheet on a live online conference or class with more than 100 viewers? Will you share the spreadsheet in advance or you will do this live during a real-time event? Will you be modifying the spreasheet while all these viewers have opened the spreadsheet? Are you able to ask your viewers to use Chrome and enable offline file access in advance? Will the viewers be using differnt ISP or all will be using the same network (like when viewers use the same corporate VPN)? Oct 8, 2020 at 13:37

2 Answers 2

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Yes, there is a limit. From Share files from Google Drive

Share & collaborate on a file with more than 100 people

Up to 100 people with view, edit, or comment permissions can work on a Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides file at the same time. When more than 100 people are accessing a file, only the owner and some users with editing permissions can edit the file.


Sidenotes:

  1. When someone is viewing a Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) Editor document, the user profile photo or an anonymous animal is shown close to the top-right corner. The relevance of this in this context is that someway Google is showing how many users are viewing the document no matter if they are the document owner, editor, commenter or viewer.

    1. In this context document refers to a spreadsheet, document, presentation, drawing, form or script openend using a Goole Worspace Editor.
  2. From the question:

I am aware (as Rubén point out) that: "Up to 100 people with view, edit, or comment permissions can work on a Google Sheet ... at the same time."

But only I may be working on the sheet. If 100 people are only viewing it, how would Google even know this? What is to stop 100 more people from going to the same link? It does not seem likely that constant pings are being sent back to Google when a Sheet is on someone's screen.

While a document from the user point of view is a single file, from the computer point of view it's composed of several computer files. The following screenshot shows on the left a new spreadsheet and on the right the Chrome Developers Tools showing the Sources tab, which is displaying a tree structure of the source files and the HTML from the edit file. Some of these computer files include code that allows the Google computers to interact with each user computer to track on real time how many users have open the spreasheet at certain moment.

  1. Chrome Developers Tools can be opened from the Chrome menu or by pressing F12 . It includes several tools that can be used to see what computer files were downloaded, the newtwork traffic, the structure of the content displayed, called Document Object Model (DOM), among other things. Other web browers have similar features.

From the question

This is a Google document on my personal Google Drive that will be shared via a "share link" that allows anyone with the link to view, but not edit it. The data in the sheet is complete and only occasionally will I edit it for changes. It is expected that a few thousand people will be viewing it

Assuming that your spreadsheet reach more than 100 simultaneos viewers then it's very likely that some of them will get a message saying something like

The resource is not available now. Try again later

Alternatives

  • Publish your spreadsheet to the web
  • Embed your spreasdheet in a web page (it could be a Google Site)
  • Instead of one, use multiple spreadsheets. You could use IMPORTRANGE, Google Apps Script or the Sheets API to propagate the updates from a "master" spreadsheet to the others. The tool be used will depend on your personal preferences, skills as well on the types of changes made.
  • Publish the spreadsheet data to a web page in a website prepared to handle such traffic.

Resources

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  • I saw this information myself. But it does not answer my question. If 100 people already went to the link and have the spreadsheet on their screen and are "viewing", what could stop another 100 different people from going to the same link and retrieving the same document? If they are just viewing it and not interacting with it, how would Google know they are viewing it? Is information constantly being sent back to Google while the sheet is in their browser? Oct 8, 2020 at 12:01
  • @JohnPankowicz if saw that, why you didn't say that in your question? The regarding the other questions, questions about the internal policies and technologies are off-topic in this site (we have a site specific close reason for them), I suggested you to ask for a site recommendation to ask those questions in Meta Stack Exchange. Oct 8, 2020 at 13:07
  • Yes, I should have added that information originally. But right now all I want to know is "Can more than a 100 view my sheet?" The correct answer is critical to the work that I am doing. Oct 8, 2020 at 13:31
  • Ok, I concede! (But not because of your latest edits.) When I check the XHR tab in dev tools, I can see there are GETs & PUTs back to Google even when I am just viewing the sheet and not even clicking anywhere. So Google is keep track of every spreadsheet that is open in every browser. Having built enterprise websites used by tens of millions, I did not think Google would have bothered to do this. It seems they could accomplish almost the same goal by just counting downloads. But none of those JS code files run on Google computer. They run in the user's browser & and make XHR calls out. Oct 11, 2020 at 12:39
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[ NOTE: I am conceding my answer to Rubén's. Please see my last comment under his. ]

No, there is not a maximum on the number of people who can simultaneously view a public Google Sheet.

However, there is a maximum download limit for any specific Google document within any 24 hour period.

There is also a 100 user limit on number of people who can simultaneous edit a specific shared document.

The fact that there is a user profile photo, in the top-right corner, is irrelevant. Google does not keep track of who is viewing a shared document. And besides, one does not even need to have personal Google drive to view a shared Google Doc.

Here are two Google support responses on this issue:

".. it is possible to exceed a daily quota download usage which tracks total size downloaded per download and resets that each specific download usage every 24hrs."

"There isn't an exact always-the-same maximum download per 24hrs. The reason why it's fluid is to allow users some flexibility when the servers aren't as busy, and less flexibility when they are."

Google does not make public the exact algorithm for determining the quota for maximum downloads.

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  • The quotes responses were note posted by Google support, their author is a Product Expert (PE are volunters, not employees, by the way i'm a Google Product Expert), they are about uploaded files (PDF, PNG,etc) not about Google Sheets.spreadsheets viewing a Google Sheet spreadsheet is not the same than downloading a vile. Oct 8, 2020 at 21:06
  • What is the source of "No, there is not a maximum on the number of people who can simultaneously view a public Google Sheet."? Oct 8, 2020 at 21:07
  • How can there be a limit on something that can't be measured? By what means would Google be measuring simultaneous views? It makes no difference whether you uploaded a document to your Google drive or created it in place. A document needs to be downloaded to your computer whether you are viewing it or storing it locally. The process is the same. Oct 8, 2020 at 21:24
  • That's true that Sheets don't count toward storage quota. But they still have size and need to be downloaded to be viewed. Besides my link to that support question, there were about 6 others that mentioned the download limits and 24hr reset. Google doesn't officially document how their limits work. But a download limit makes a lot more sense to me, than Google trying to maintain a count of how many copies of every Sheet is simultaneously in use. Oct 9, 2020 at 1:51

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