Google Team Drive

Google Team Drive.jpg

Google Team Drive

share • collaborate • manage members • configure permissions. Google Team Drive keeps all project files in one location. This avoids the need to have team members share individual files.

Team Drive Overview

Google Team Drive is relatively new to the G-Suite of applications. Team Drive is developed to help teams organize and keep track of important documents. Before Team Drive, each of us created a document and shared it with others. As a result, we had documents and files spread across different accounts. Some times a member of the team had not been included in the sharing process. Placing project documents and files in shared folders helped a little.

Team Drive has many similarities to shared folders. And, It has some important differences. Knowing the differences is useful for deciding when to use Shared folders or Team Drive. I will review how shared folders work so we can compare them to Team Drive. We have completely transitioned to using Team Drive for projects. It makes the process of sharing and collaborating on documents much easier.

Team Drive is part of the solutions available for Business and Education. It is not available for the ordinary person with a regular account. Many of the features available in Team Drive can be imitated with shared folders. If you don’t have access to a Team Drive then you can use a shared folder.

Here is a way to think about Team Drive. Team Drive is like a virtual hard drive or a virtual storage location in the cloud. This isn’t too different from a regular Google Drive account. Team Drives are created and shared with specific members of a team. Members are assigned one of several roles in the team. The roles designate what they can do in the drive and how content is available to them.

Shared folders are account dependent and Team Drives are not. A shared folder is owned by one account. That account designates permissions to the folder. A shared folder has one owner with several editors and viewers. Team Drive has several owners, account managers, editors, and viewers. Ownership of Team Drives is important.

Organizations and teams have members that join and leave. Members that leave are the issue. Accounts for members that leave are usually purged from the system after a grace period. Purged accounts usually prevent anyone else from owning shared folders. Account information for members that leave is also archived. Shared folders from archived accounts are no longer accessible. Members that leave are not an issue with Team Drives. Team Drives exist independent of the team member. With multiple owners, there is always someone on the team that is the owner of the Drive.

Shared Folders

Before taking a look at Team Drive it is a good idea to see how a shared folder works when working with teams. Shared folders are not just for working with teams on projects but that will be the focus of these lessons. Shared folders are useful for a variety of reasons. Shared folders provide access to documents and resources. They are usually edited and updated by a handful of accounts.

Over the years I have used shared folders for a variety of projects. I have also used shared folders to share content from professional development sessions. Shared folders are great but they don’t always work well on their own. Shared folders are easily lost in the vastness of shared files and folders. The resources in these folders are often lost because it is difficult to find what you need in folders. Over the years I have accumulated hundreds of documents in dozens of shared folders.

Content Managers

Content managers have permission to add, edit, move, and delete files. This includes folders. The only account with more rights is that of the Manager. The manager is like the owner in a shared folder. The manager, in this case, has some exclusive rights. The manager is the only one that can manage members and settings.


Members outside the organization can be given access to content in the Team Drive. This is on by default. To increase security we should only allow access to members of the organization. Anyone in the team can share content with anyone outside the team as long as they are in the organization.

Accounts apart from the team member accounts can be given access to content. For increased security, we can change the option so only members can access content in the drive. Members of the team cannot give access to anyone outside the team. They can’t share files with anyone outside the team either.

Anyone in the team can download, copy, and print content from Team Drive. We can restrict this access to commenters and viewers. Other members of the team still have access to download, copy, and print content.


One of the more useful features is the one where we can search for content within the team drive only. This option is not available with shared folders in My Drive. Searching my drive searches all the files and folders in the drive. Unless we specifically specify we want to search in the folder only. To do this we need to go into the advanced search options.

Hiding drives

Our department creates lots of Team Drives for different projects. We often revisit projects the following year but don’t need to see the drive during the rest of the months. Hidden Team Drives are not visible in the main Team Drive section. They are not deleted but placed in a section for hidden drives. This is similar to arching a drive or archiving something like a Google Classroom.