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Google Shared Drive

Need to share folders of files with a department or other permanent group in Google Drive? Shared Drives may be your best bet. Shared Drives allow folders to be created and shared without tying them to an individual owner, so they can persist as people come and go.

What are Shared Drives and why use them?

Google Shared Drives are a way of creating shared folders that allow a group of people (or Shared Drive “members”) to collaborate. They are different from regular Google Drive folders because they don't have one owner but rather are owned by the Mount Holyoke College domain itself.

If any members of a Shared Drive folder graduate or leave the College, the Shared Drive folder still exists and remains available to the remaining members. This assures that a folder or file in a Shared Drive will persist over time.

LITS has created a set of guidelines to consider when using Shared Drives. You might want to create a new Shared Drive folder instead of a regular Google Drive folder for:

  • a shared folder with the primary purpose of allowing for group collaboration between multiple users,
  • a shared folder that is likely to be in use on a long-term basis, especially if the people using that folder are likely to come and go over time,
  • a shared folder that is used for operational purposes that support a business or academic function at the College or
  • a shared folder that will not contain personally identifiable information (PII) or other sensitive data.

The more of these conditions apply, the more likely it is that a Shared Drive folder will suit your needs.

Can I move a regular Google Drive folder to Shared Drives?

There is currently no straightforward method of moving a Google Drive folder to Shared Drives. Google does not allow dragging and dropping folders from Google Drives to Shared Drives, and it allows only the owner to move individual files. These limitations make the transfer of existing Google Drive folders potentially messy and tedious, since folder structures have to be manually recreated and files moved by each owner.

Because it is likely that Google will release a smoother method to move files from Google Drives to Shared Drives in the foreseeable future, LITS currently recommends waiting for that release before moving existing folders to Shared Drives. For now, LITS recommends that you only use Shared Drives to create new shared folders.

Where can I learn more about how Shared Drives work?

Google maintains a Getting Started with Shared Drives webpage that is useful for getting oriented and starting out with Shared Drives. We recommend you spend some time reviewing the instructions on that page when you first start using Shared Drives.