Shared Drive Best Practices

Discover how to effectively utilize Shared Drives in Google Drive to enhance collaboration within your team. Shared drives offer a centralized space for storing, searching, and accessing files collaboratively, ensuring seamless workflow regardless of team members' changes. Here are essential tips to optimize your Shared Drive setup and avoid common pitfalls often encountered in educational settings.

1. Establish Clear Ownership for Shared Drive Creation

Implement a request system to ensure that Shared Drives are created only by authorized individuals. You can utilize a Google Form to streamline the request process. Next, facilitate the bulk creation of Shared Drives using GAM based on the submitted requests rather than manually creating them.

Also, consider limiting shared drive creation access to individuals who have received training on shared drive permissions and functionalities, promoting efficient and secure usage.

2. Use a standard naming convention

Using a standardized naming convention for Shared Drives is essential for maintaining organization and clarity within your team or organization.

Here's an example of a standard naming convention for Shared Drives:

[Department/Team Name] - [Project Name/Category]

This naming convention identifies the purpose or ownership of the Shared Drive at a glance. To clarify access or status, you could also add a prefix of [internal], [external], or [archive].

Remember, managers of Shared Drives can rename them. To rename a shared drive, you must be the manager. Right-click on the Shared Drive and the Rename pops up.

3. Give each shared drive a clear focus or purpose

Assigning a distinct focus or purpose to each shared drive is essential. This ensures clarity and organization in file management, facilitating efficient access and collaboration among team members.

Here are some potential purposes for Shared Drives:

  • Project Collaboration Drive: This drive can store all files related to ongoing projects within the institution. 
  • Departmental Drive: Each department within the organization can have its own shared drive to store department-specific documents, resources, and information. 
  • Knowledge Management Drive: This drive can be a repository for storing organizational knowledge, including training materials, best practices, policies, and procedures. It helps ensure that important information is easily accessible to all institution employees.
  • Resource Library Drive: A centralized drive for storing commonly used templates, forms, assets, and other resources can be helpful for educators while creating course materials.

4. Organize folders in shared drives with access in mind.

Assigning shared drives to organizational units gives you more granular control on data sharing, security, and storage.

Efficiently structure shared drive folders considering access permissions. While you can grant additional access to files and folders within a Shared Drive, it's important to note that access is not revocable once granted.

5. Make sure to limit the amount of Managers in Shared Drives.

To optimize Shared Drive management, it's advisable to restrict the number of individuals with Manager access. Instead, leverage Content Manager or Contributor roles.

  • Manager: Possesses full control over members and all file-related actions, including upload, edit, move, and delete.
  • Content Manager: Default permissions allow for upload, edit, move, and delete actions on all files.
  • Contributor: Capable of editing all files and uploading new ones, but lacks the ability to move or delete existing files.

6. Use Google Groups for membership.

Google Groups allow for the seamless addition of individuals or groups to shared drives. By leveraging groups, membership administration becomes dynamic, eliminating the need for manual addition or removal of users from shared drives.

Let's look at the different types of membership:

Shared Drive Members

Shared Drive Members have access to everything within a Shared Drive. The Admin console lists users as part of the Shared Drive in the Admin console when selecting Manage Members next to a Shared Drive. They can not have their access reduced, only increased. That means if someone is a manager of a Shared Drive, they have complete control over any item within the Shared Drive; they can not be reduced to a viewer further down. However, if a user is a viewer at the top Shared Drive Level, their access can be increased further down.

Guest Access vs Shared Drive Members

Shared Drive Guests aren’t members of the direct Shared Drive. When reviewing the membership at the top level or in the Admin console, these Guests do not appear. Guests are users/groups sharing a specific file(s) or folder(s) within the Shared Drive. Because access to data can not be taken away from members, users who need to be privy to certain data within the Shared Drives will be guests instead of members. This means they have no direct visibility into the shared drive. However, they can quickly identify items shared with them in a Shared Drive by the Shared Drive Icon.


End users who are guest members may also consider using Workspaces or Drive Labels to categorize items within their Shared Drives for easy access.

7. Restrict who can access

To manage access effectively, navigate to Main Menu > Apps > Google Workspace > Drive and Docs > Sharing settings.

Internal vs. External Access:

Ensure that individuals within your domain can access files containing internal or sensitive information within Shared Drives.

Member vs. Non-Member Access:

Limit access to files within Shared Drives to members only, preventing non-members from viewing potentially sensitive data.

8. Put collaborative or reference files in shared drives-this way they never get lost

Ensure optimal file management by storing collaborative or reference files in shared drives. This guarantees they remain accessible and organized, reducing the risk of loss or misplacement. Once your drives are established and secured, it's time to populate them with relevant content. It is time to determine the specific files would you like to include.

9. Share content responsibly

Institutions should develop clear policies regarding content sharing. If such policies are not in place, they should draft them, provide training on them, and ensure that staff members reference these guidelines.

10. Consider Storage Limits

Be mindful that your administrator may impose storage limits on shared drives. To view these limits and track storage usage, navigate to the Details tab within Google Drive.


Additional Resources:

Tips to access and find your files

How file access works in shared drives

Shared drive limits in Google Drive

Manage data policies for specific shared drives

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