Google Shared Drive (Gdrive): Introduction, Benefits, and Limitations

Publication Date: 2022.01.05

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

What Is Shared Drive?

The Shared Drive in Google Drive (Gdrive) can be used to store, search, and access a team’s files. The files in Shared Drive belong to the team and not to an individual. Even when members leave the team, the files are preserved, allowing your team to continue to share information and work anywhere, from any device.

Main Features of Google’s Shared Drive

Google Workspace lets you create a shared drive for your projects, or your teams, which enables the sharing of information and work.

Please refer to the table below for the available features.

Feature Description
Access files and folders after an employee leaves the company Your organization, not an individual, owns the files in a shared drive. When an employee leaves and an admin deletes their account, their files remain in the drive.
Improved content sharing 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 from outside your organization to a shared drive. If you do:
  • The external user must have a Google account and be signed into Drive.
  • The shared drive appears in the external user’s Google Drive.
  • Any work by the external user is transferred to, and owned by, the domain that created the shared drive (for example, editing, creating, or uploading a file).
Synchronize content on your desktop Users can access their shared drives on their computer by using Google Drive for desktop. For details on setting it up for your organization, go to Deploy Drive for desktop.


When to Create a New Shared Drive?

Before creating a shared drive, ask yourself:

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

If the above criteria are met it is a good idea to create a new shared drive.

If the files belong to a large number of projects, it is better to create multiple shared drives. As the number of projects and teams increases, it can become difficult to find and manage content in a single shared drive.

Google Workspace Editions with Google Shared Drive (Gdrive)

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

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

Google Shared Drive Access Levels

  Manager Content manager* Contributor** Commenter Viewer
View shared drives, files, and folders V V V V V
Comment on files in shared drives V V V V X
Make, approve, and reject edits in files V V V X X
Create and upload files, and create folders in shared drives V V V X X
Add people and groups to specific files in shared drives V V V X X
Add people and groups to specific folders in shared drives V X X X X
Move files and folders from a shared drive to My Drive V V X X X
Move files and folders within a shared drive V X X X X
Move files and folders from one shared drive to another shared drive V V X X X
Move shared drive files and folders into the trash V X X X X
Permanently delete files and folders in the trash V V V X X
Restore files and folders from the trash (up to 30 days) V X X X X
View shared drives, files, and folders V X X X X
Comment on files in shared drives V X X X X

* Default role for a new member.
**When you grant Contributor access to users they have read-only access to files in Google Drive for desktop or 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.

Comparison Between Shared Drive and My Drive

What is the difference between My Drive and Shared Drive? The following table summarizes the differences between the two:

  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 into 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 own 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.


What are the Benefits of a Shared Drive?

What are the benefits of using Shared Drive?

To summarize:

Easier Management by Using Access Levels

Users can be assigned access levels to gain individual access to folders in Shared Drive which, compared to My Drive, is easier to manage. No need to grant file permissions individually!

Reduce the Hassle When Employees Resign

If an employee resigns from the company and the file is owned by them, and in their My Drive account, the employee must transfer file permissions before leaving. However, if a shared drive is used, ownership of the files belongs to the company and it is not necessary to transfer file permissions specifically, even if an employee leaves.

What are the Shared Drive Limits?

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

Maximum Items

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 per day between My Drive and all shared drives. Users who reach the 750 GB limit, or upload a file larger than 750 GB, will not be able to upload any more files that day. Ongoing uploads will be completed.

The maximum individual file size that you can upload or sync 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 a shared drive. Users may have difficulty organizing and finding the content. Instead, it is better to organize content in multiple shared drives.

User 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 Do I Avoid Exceeding the Limits?

There are ways to avoid exceeding the Shared Drive limitations:

Use Google Groups for Team Members

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

Empty the Trash for Shared Drive

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

Use Google Shared Drive for Specific Projects

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

How Do I Make Best Use of Shared Drive?

Shared Drive is only available in Google Workspace Business Standard or higher editions. You can manage files more efficiently by understanding the use of access levels and restrictions. To learn more about Shared Drive, please contact our specialists who are happy to help.

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