What is Shared Drive in Google Workspace? Benefits & Limitations

This article describes the functions of Shared Drive (formerly Team Drive) in Google Workspace, access levels, and the comparison between Shared Drive and My Drive.

What is Shared Drive in Google Workspace?

The Shared Drive in Google Drive can be used to store, search, and access files with a team. Files in Shared Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay in place so your team can keep sharing information and work anywhere, from any device.

Main Features

Create a shared drive for your projects or team to share information and work. Please refer to the table below for the available features.

Feature Description
Find files and folders after an employee leaves Your organization owns the files in a shared drive, not an individual. When an employee leaves and an admin deletes their account, their files remain in shared drives.
Improved sharing rules All members of a shared drive see the same content.
Content discoverability Adding a user to a group in Google Groups automatically adds them to all the shared drives that include that group.
Add external users to shared drives You can add users outside of your organization to a shared drive. If you do:
  • The shared drive appears in the external user’s Google Drive.
  • Any work an external user contributes (for example, edits to, creating, or uploading a file) is transferred to and owned by the domain that created the shared drive.
  • The external user must have a Google Account and be signed in to Drive.
Synchronize content on your desktop Users can access their shared drives on their computer using Google Drive for desktop. For details on setting it up for your organization, go to Deploy Drive for desktop.
Reference: https://support.google.com/a/answer/7212025

When to create a new shared drive?

Please refer to the following points to confirm the needs before creating a shared drive.

  • Are the files of interest to most or all members of a particular project team?
  • Do the files share a consistent theme?

If the criteria above are fulfilled, creating a new shared drive is a good idea. If the files are for a variety of projects, create multiple shared drives. As the number of projects and teams increases, finding and managing content in a single shared drive can become difficult.

Google Workspace Edition with Shared Drive

Edition Shared Drive
Business Starter X
Business Standard O
Business Plus O
Enterprise Essentials O
Enterprise Standard O
Enterprise Plus O

Shared Drive is only available in Business Standard, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus.

Shared Drive Access Levels

  Manager Content manager* Contributor** Commenter Viewer
View shared drives, files, and folders
Comment on files in shared drives
Make, approve, and reject edits in files
Create and upload files and create folders in shared drives
Add people and groups to specific files in shared drives
Add people and groups to specific folders in shared drives
Move files and folders from a shared drive to My Drive
Move files and folders within a shared drive
Move files and folders from one shared drive to another shared drive
Move shared drive files and folders into the trash
Permanently delete files and folders in the trash
Restore files and folders from trash (up to 30 days)
View shared drives, files, and folders
Comment on files in shared drives
* Default role for new members.
**If you grant Contributor access to users, they can have read-only access to files in Google Drive for desktop or files in the Chrome OS Files app. To allow users to edit files in a shared drive in Drive for desktop and Chrome OS, give the user Content manager access to the shared drive.
Reference: https://support.google.com/a/answer/7337554

Comparison between Shared Drive & My Drive

  Shared Drive My Drive
What types of files can you add? All file types except files from Google Maps All file types
Who owns files and folders? Your organization The individual who created the file or folder
Can I move files and folders onto a drive? Users can only move files.
Administrators can move files and folders.
Can I move files and folders within a drive? Yes, if you have Manager or Content Manager access.

Note: Only Managers can move files and folders between shared drives.
Can I sync files to my computer? With Drive for desktop: Yes
With Backup and Sync: No
How does sharing work? All team members see the same file set. Different users might see different files in a folder, depending on their access to individual files.
How long do deleted files stay in Trash?
  • Each shared drive has its trash.
  • After 30 days, files and folders in Trash are deleted forever.
  • Members can delete specific files sooner.
After 30 days, files and folders in Trash are deleted forever.
Can I restore files from the trash? Yes, if you have Manager, Content manager, or Contributor access. Yes, if you created it.
Reference: https://support.google.com/a/answer/7212025

Benefits of Shared Drive

Easier management by using access levels

The access levels can be assigned to users for accessing the folders in Shared Drive, which is easier to be managed compared to My Drive. Now, you do not need to grant file permissions one by one anymore!

Reduce the hassle when employees leave

When an employee resigns, if the file is owned by the employee’s My Drive, he will have to spend time transferring the file permissions before he leaves. However, if a Shared Drive is used, the ownership of the files belongs to the organization, and there is no need to specifically transfer file permissions even if an employee leaves.

Shared Drive Limits

There are limits to the number of items, members, and daily uploads you can have in shared drives.

Maximum items in a shared drive

A shared drive can contain a maximum of 400,000 items, including files, folders, and shortcuts.

Maximum daily uploads

Individual users can only upload 750 GB each day between My Drive and all shared drives. Users who reach the 750-GB limit or upload a file larger than 750 GB cannot upload additional files that day. Uploads that are in progress will complete. The maximum individual file size that you can upload or synchronize is 5 TB.

File sharing limits

A given file within a shared drive can be directly shared with a maximum of 100 groups.

Folder limits

A folder in a shared drive can support up to 20 levels of nested folders. However, it is not advisable to create a large number of folders in one shared drive. Users might have difficulty organizing and finding content. Instead, you can organize content into multiple shared drives.

Membership limits

You can add users and groups in Google Groups to a shared drive. If you add a user who is a member of multiple groups that are members of the shared drive, the user only counts as one member.

How to Avoid Exceeding Limits?

Use Google Groups for membership

Large organizations should manage membership using Google Groups instead of adding individual users.

Empty the trash for shared drives

Items that are not permanently deleted from the shared drive’s trash still count toward the limits for the shared drive.

Use shared drives for specific projects

Make sure shared drives are organized for projects and teams instead of general-purpose file storage.

Make Optimum Use of Shared Drive

Shared Drive is only available in Google Workspace Business Standard or a higher edition. You can manage files more efficiently if you can understand the use of access levels and limits. If you want to learn more about Shared Drive, please feel free to contact TS Cloud (Google Premier Partner).

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