Shared drives (formerly Team Drives) is a feature available for Google Workspace users which allows teams to store files in a shared area and collaborate on them. In this article, we discuss the features of shared drives and how they differentiate from My Drive.

What are Google Shared Drives?

Shared drives can be created within Google Drive by organizations that are using Google Workspace. A shared drive can be used to create, store, access, and edit a team’s files. The files from shared drives are owned by the team, rather than a specific individual. The main benefit of this is that teams can continue to share information and work from any location using any device because the files are preserved even after team members leave.

Here are the advantages of using shared drives:

  • Files in shared drives are owned by the shared drive, rather than an individual user.
  • Shared drives are independent of any Google user.
  • All members of a shared drive have access to the same content.
  • Multiple users can access and control shared drives.
  • Shared drive managers can control what members can do.

Non members, including users from outside the organisation, can be added to individual folders (they must have a Google account and be signed into Google Drive).

The Shared drives feature is only available for Business Standard, Business Plus, and all Enterprise editions of Google Workspace.

What’s the difference between My Drive and Shared Drives?

The following table summarises the differences between My Drive and shared drives.

Shared drivesMy Drive
Files and folders are owned by the shared drive.Files and folders are owned by you.
Any member who has Contributor permissions (or higher) can add files.Only you can add files to My Drive.
All members added to a shared drive can view its contents.

You can also share files and folders with users who are not members, using the usual Share feature. These users will not have access to the entire content of the shared drive.

Only you can view all the files and folders from My Drive.

You can share files and folders with individuals or Google Groups on an individual basis.Google Groups: every member of the group gets access.

Every member with Content Manager or Manager permissions can manage the files and folders of a shared drive.Only you can manage the files and folders stored in My Drive, unless you give Edit permission to someone else on an individual file/folder basis.
Members with Manager, Content Manager, or Contributor permissions can restore deleted files. Each shared drive has its own bin.You can restore only the files that you own.
ManagersContent Managers, or Contributors can move files from My Drive to a shared drive.

Folders can be moved from My Drive to shared drives only by Google Workspace admins.

Manager or Content Manager members can move files across folders in a shared drive.

Members with Manager roles in multiple shared drives can also move content from one shared drive to another.

You can move files between folders in My Drive.
You can sync files to your computer using Google Drive for desktop.You can sync files to your computer using Google Drive for desktop.

You can consider using shared drives when a group of files is intended for the same group of people. For example, the marketing department can collaborate on files using their own shared drive.

How to get started with Shared Drives?

If you are a Google Workspace admin, check out this tip about enabling shared drives within your organisation.

As a user, create a shared drive by navigating to shared drives from the left sidebar in Google Drive and then clicking the New button.

The new button in shared drives.

The person who creates a shared drive will be assigned the Manager role. To add members to the shared drive, click on the Manage members button from the top right side.

Manage members button in shared drives.

There are different levels of access

  • Manager: full admin control of the shared drive.
  • Content manager: add, edit move and delete files.
  • Contributors: can add files.
  • Comments: can comment on files.
  • Viewers: can only read files.

Final thoughts

If you are working in teams or departments, Google shared drives should be your preferred collaboration method. Each file in a shared drive belongs to the team collectively and no content is personally owned. Team files are safer and consistently available in shared drives. To find out more about shared drives, consider joining our Google Drive training session which covers this feature among others.