The Google Workspace (G Suite) Admin’s Guide to Shared Drives

In this guide, learn about Shared Drives (previously Team Drives), including the differences between Shared Drives and user Drives (previously My Drive). Additionally, learn about key considerations when migrating to and administering Shared Drives for Google Workspace.


  • Introducing Shared Drives

  • Core features and differences from My Drive

  • Shared Drives best practices

  • FAQ


Introducing Shared Drives

Shared Drives are a group-focused collaborative file sharing experience for Google Drive users. Shared Drives are used as a central location for to store files for a particular project or team. Shared Drives are intended to provide team-level ownership over content so files remain intact while employees come and go. Google created Shared Drives in order to overcome three primary limitations to My Drive:

  • Content Discoverability—A user added to a Google Group won’t immediately gain visibility into all the files he or she has access to within Google Drive’s UI, which leads to delays and inefficiencies while onboarding new employees.

  • Files remain after employees leave—Currently, Workspace/G Suite administrators must manually select and move files to another employee (often a manager) when someone leaves the company in the Google Admin panel. This process is time-consuming and not scalable.

  • Interface inconsistency and sharing rule confusion—Two employees viewing the same shared folder in Drive may see different files inside based on individual file sharing permissions.

In short, Shared Drives provide a solution for centralized group collaboration and storage as opposed to individual user storage. Organizations can now develop policies outlining what type of content should be stored in these new Shared Drives as opposed to their own user Drives.

Core features and differences from user Drives

Here’s a quick overview of features in Shared Drive and its differences from Google Drive.

New access permissions:

  • Full Access
  • Edit Access
  • Comment Access
  • View Access

Things to note

  • Files within Shared Drives that are shared externally cannot be added to that non-members’ Drives and are only visible in Shared with me, Recent, Starred, and Search. Files shared in this manner also have a Shared Drive icon next to the file name.
  • Certain right-click functions are disabled for files shared from Shared Drives, including Move to and Remove
  • Individual files within a Shared Drive can be shared externally, but folders/subfolders within a Shared Drive cannot be shared externally. You will need to create a separate External Shared Drive.


Shared Drive Content Discoverability

  • Shared Drives retain content over time, regardless of employees leaving the Shared Drive or company. *See also: How to offboard employees in Google Workspace

  • Shared Drives standardize content across all members of a tea, regardless of their access level.

  • Shared Drives are shared team-wide, and certain files/folders cannot be hidden from members.

  • Each Shared Drive has its own Trash folder. This Trash folder is separate from the Drive Trash folder.


When to use Shared Drives vs. Drive

The Shared Drives product is intended to be a transparent file sharing solution for teams/departments/projects. For projects that are not team-focused or project-focused, it is more effective to use individual user Drives and folders.



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