Frequently asked questions
Colaboratory, or 'Colab' for short, is a product from Google Research. Colab allows anybody to write and execute arbitrary Python code through the browser, and is especially well suited to machine learning, data analysis and education. More technically, Colab is a hosted Jupyter notebook service that requires no setup to use, while providing access free of charge to computing resources including GPUs.
Yes. Colab is free of charge to use.
Colab resources are not guaranteed and not unlimited, and the usage limits sometimes fluctuate. This is necessary for Colab to be able to provide resources free of charge. For more details, see Resource limits
Users who are interested in more reliable access to better resources may be interested in Colab Pro.
Resources in Colab are prioritised for interactive use cases. We prohibit actions associated with bulk compute, actions that negatively impact others, as well as actions associated with bypassing our policies. The following are disallowed from Colab runtimes:
- file hosting, media serving or other web service offerings not related to interactive compute with Colab
- downloading torrents or engaging in peer-to-peer file-sharing
- remote control such as SSH shells, remote desktops, remote UIs
- connecting to remote proxies
- mining cryptocurrency
- running denial-of-service attacks
- password cracking
- using multiple accounts to work around access or resource usage restrictions
- creating deepfakes
Additional restrictions exist for paid users here.
Jupyter is the open source project on which Colab is based. Colab allows you to use and share Jupyter notebooks with others without having to download, install or run anything.
Colab notebooks are stored in Google Drive, or can be loaded from GitHub. Colab notebooks can be shared just as you would with Google Docs or Sheets. Simply click the share button at the top right of any Colab notebook, or follow these Google Drive file sharing instructions.
Yes. Choose 'Upload notebook' from the File menu.
You can search Colab notebooks using Google Drive. Clicking on the Colab logo at the top left of the notebook view will show all notebooks in Drive. You can also search for notebooks that you have opened recently using File > Open notebook.
Code is executed in a virtual machine private to your account. Virtual machines are deleted when idle for a while, and have a maximum lifetime enforced by the Colab service.
You can download any Colab notebook that you’ve created from Google Drive following these instructions, or from within Colab’s File menu. All Colab notebooks are stored in the open source Jupyter notebook format (.ipynb).
Selecting Runtime > Disconnect and delete runtime to return all managed virtual machines assigned to you to their original state. This can be helpful in cases where a virtual machine has become unhealthy e.g. due to accidental overwrite of system files, or installation of incompatible software. Colab limits how often this can be done to prevent undue resource consumption. If an attempt fails, please try again later.
drive.mount()sometimes fail saying 'timed out', and why do I/O operations in
drive.mount()-mounted folders sometimes fail?
Google Drive operations can time out when the number of files or subfolders in a folder grows too large. If thousands of items are directly contained in the top-level 'My Drive' folder then mounting the drive will likely time out. Repeated attempts may eventually succeed as failed attempts cache partial state locally before timing out. If you encounter this problem, try moving files and folders directly contained in 'My Drive' into sub-folders. A similar problem can occur when reading from other folders after a successful
drive.mount(). Accessing items in any folder containing many items can cause errors like
OSError: [Errno 5] Input/output error. Again, you can fix this problem by moving directly contained items into subfolders.
Note that 'deleting' files or subfolders by moving them to the bin may not be enough; if that doesn't seem to help, make sure that you also empty your bin.
Mounting Google Drive on Colab allows any code in your notebook to access any files in your Google Drive. We usually require that users manually grant this access every time that they connect to a new runtime by adding a code cell to the notebook. This ensures that the user fully understands the permissions being granted to the notebook.
In some cases, we only require Google Drive authorisation once, and automatically re-mount Google Drive during future sessions. To protect your files, we only allow this when a notebook passes multiple checks. For example, any notebooks which have been edited by another user do not automatically mount Google Drive.
Google Drive enforces various limits, including per-user and per-file operation count and bandwidth quotas. Exceeding these limits will trigger
Input/output error as above, and show a notification in the Colab UI. A typical cause is accessing a popular shared file, or accessing too many distinct files too quickly. Workarounds include:
- Copy the file using drive.google.com and don't share it widely so that other users don't use up its limits.
- Avoid making many small I/O reads, instead opting to copy data from Drive to the Colab VM in an archive format (e.g.
.tar.gzfiles) and unarchive the data locally on the VM instead of in the mounted Drive directory.
- Wait a day for quota limits to reset.
Google Drive imposes a limit on how much data can be stored in it by each user. If Drive operations are failing with
input/output error and a notification says storage quota has been exceeded, delete some files using drive.google.com and empty your bin to reclaim the space. It might take a little while for the reclaimed space to be available in Colab.
In order to dynamically offer powerful GPUs at scale for a low price, Colab needs to maintain the flexibility to adjust usage limits and hardware availability dynamically.
In the free-of-charge version of Colab, access to expensive resources like GPUs is heavily restricted. For the paid version of Colab, we target giving our users high value per their spend.
You can purchase guaranteed resources via GCP Marketplace to use with Colab.
Colab is able to provide resources free of charge, in part by having dynamic usage limits that sometimes fluctuate, and by not providing guaranteed or unlimited resources. This means that overall usage limits, as well as idle timeout periods, maximum VM lifetime, GPU types available and other factors vary over time. Colab does not publish these limits, in part because they can (and sometimes do) vary quickly.
You can relax Colab's usage limits by purchasing one of our paid plans here. These plans have similar dynamics in that resource availability may change over time.
You can purchase guaranteed resources via GCP Marketplace to use with Colab.
The types of GPUs that are available in Colab vary over time. This is necessary for Colab to be able to provide access to these resources free of charge.
You can access premium GPUs subject to availability by purchasing one of our paid plans here.
If you would like access to specific dedicated hardware, explore using GCP Marketplace Colab.
Colab prioritises interactive compute. Runtimes will time out if you are idle.
In the free-of-charge version of Colab, notebooks can run for at most 12 hours, depending on availability and your usage patterns. Colab Pro, Pro+ and Pay As You Go offer you increased compute availability based on your compute unit balance.
In general, notebooks can run for at most 12 hours, depending on availability and your usage patterns. You can expect to experience backend termination if you exhaust your available compute units on a Pro, Pro+ or Pay As You Go plan.
Colab Pro+ supports continuous code execution for up to 24 hours if you have sufficient compute units. Idle timeouts only apply if code execution terminates.
You can fully relax any runtime limits and idle timeouts by purchasing a dedicated VM at GCP Marketplace.
In the version of Colab that is free of charge, you are able to access VMs with a standard system memory profile.
In paid versions of Colab, you are able to access machines with a high memory system profile subject to availability and your compute unit balance.
Note that memory refers to system memory. All GPU chips have the same memory profile.
Consider closing your Colab tabs when you have finished with your work, and avoid opting for GPUs or extra memory when it is not needed for your work. This will make it less likely that you will run into usage limits within Colab. You can always purchase more compute via pay as you go should you hit limits.
For more information on getting the most out of the paid version of Colab, see Making the Most of your Colab Subscription.
Colab offers optional accelerated compute environments, including GPU and TPU. Executing code in a GPU or TPU runtime does not automatically mean that the GPU or TPU is being utilised. To avoid hitting your GPU usage limits, we recommend switching to a standard runtime if you are not utilising the GPU. Choose Runtime > Change runtime type and set Hardware accelerator to None.
We're slowly rolling out AI coding features like AI-enabled autocompletions, natural language to code and a chatbot, all based on Codey, Google's most advanced family of code-tuned models based on PaLM 2.
Pro+ subscribers in the United States have access to these features now. Pro subscribers in the United States will be enabled next. We'll expand access to new countries and to our free of charge tier as soon as capacity and approvals allow.
Sadly, we don't support Google Workspace accounts at this time. We're working on enabling the features for these account types soon.
Only paid subscribers in the United States (starting with Pro+) have access to AI coding features. To get access to AI coding features:
- Ensure that you're located in the United States
- Confirm that you're not accessing Colab with a Google Workspace account (an account that does not end in '@gmail.com')
AI-enabled autocompletions will appear as you type. Natural language to code and the chatbot both have visible buttons ('generate' and 'Colab AI'). If you see neither of these, and you've confirmed that you should have access, please report feedback in the product ('Help' > 'Send feedback'). If you want a response via email, you must select the box entitled 'We may email you for more information or updates'.
Colab can help with coding and topics about coding, but AI coding in Colab is still experimental and you are responsible for your use of code or coding explanations. You should use discretion and carefully test and review all code for errors, bugs and vulnerabilities before relying on it.
If any generated code is subject to an open source licence, Colab will cite it.
Please only use the Colab AI chatbot to ask questions related to Colab or coding in Colab. If you want to ask a chatbot about another subject, we recommend Bard for general queries (and questions about other languages like Java!)
AI coding in Colab works best and is optimised for Python.
AI coding in Colab is experimental and some of the responses may be inaccurate, so double-check Colab's responses. With your feedback, AI coding in Colab is getting better every day.
Accelerating people's ideas with generative AI is truly exciting, but it's still early days and AI coding is an experiment. While Colab has built-in safety controls and clear mechanisms for feedback in line with our AI principles, be aware that it may display inaccurate information and links, or offensive statements.
If you get an AI response that you feel is unsafe, not helpful, inaccurate, or bad for any other reason, you can let us know by submitting feedback.
At the bottom right of the response, click the thumbs up or thumbs down icons.
If you wish to disable AI coding in Colab, from the Tools menu select Settings, then Colab AI.
In that space, you'll be able to revoke consent and hide AI coding features.
AI coding in Colab, like some other standalone LLM experiences, is intended to generate original content and not replicate existing content at length. We've designed our systems to limit the chances of this occurring, and we'll continue to improve how these systems function. If Colab does directly quote at length from a source, it cites that source.
When you use generative AI features in Colab, Google collects prompts, related code, generated output, related feature usage information and your feedback. Google uses this data to provide, improve and develop Google products and services and machine-learning technologies, including Google's enterprise products such as Google Cloud.
To help with quality and improve our products, human reviewers may read, annotate and process your prompts, generated output, related feature usage information and your feedback. Please do not include sensitive (e.g. confidential) or personal information that can be used to identify you or others in your prompts or feedback. Your data will be stored in such a way that Google cannot tell who provided it and can no longer fulfil any deletion requests, and will be retained for up to 18 months.
Generate in the code cell provides in-context help to generate code snippets for you. Code is generated by your prompt as well as nearby notebook content to provide context to the model, so that you're able to ask the model to generate code that will be most relevant.
The Colab AI chatbot does not have any notebook context, and provides an explanation along with code snippets.
In 2014, we worked with the Jupyter development team to release an early version of the tool. Since then Colab has continued to evolve, guided by internal usage.
Colab focuses on supporting Python and its ecosystem of third-party tools. We're aware that users are interested in support for other Jupyter kernels (e.g. R or Scala). We would like to support these, but don't yet have any ETA.
Open any Colab notebook. Then go to the Help menu and select 'Send feedback…'.
Colab uses a generic monospace font for the editor. You can configure what font family is used for monospace in most modern browsers. Here's a few common ones:
- In Firefox, follow the steps provided in the Firefox support documents to configure the 'Monospace' font.
- In Chrome, navigate to 'chrome://settings/fonts' and modify the section labelled 'Fixed-width font'.
Python 2 is no longer supported in Colab. For information on migrating your code from Python 2 to Python 3, see Porting Python 2 Code to Python 3.
There is a FAQ on the sign-up page.
Information for Colab Pro, Pro+ and pay as you go, including pricing and how upgrades are handled, can be found at the sign-up page.
Access to Colab for Workspace users is controlled by the Workspace on/off control which can be accessed by your organisation's administrator.
Workspace for Education organisations are required to obtain parental consent for students' (under the age of 18) use of additional services with their Google Workspace for Education account. This can be done using this notice template. Please ensure that you include Colab in the list of additional services.
For more information, please read our Help Centre article 'Communicating with parents and guardians about Google Workspace for Education'.