Google Drive

Written by Christopher Lee

Last published at: June 13th, 2022


Google Drive is a cloud file storage service within Google Workspace accessed through district Google accounts (

There are two main types of drives within Google Drive.

  • My Drive
    • My Drive is a personal Google Drive. It should be used as primary storage for work, school assignments, and other media when possible. Keeping documents on devices local storage is highly discouraged. Please do not save important files directly to your Desktop or Documents folders.
    • Google Drive content lost when the account is deleted. Students can use  Google Takeout to export their content when they graduate or exit the district. Staff can as well, but need to request access through a help desk ticket.
    • Google My Drive cheat sheet
  • Shared Drive
    • District owned Google Drive. Shared drives should be used for department and district managed/owned content. For example, curriculum or PLC files.
    • When a drive manager leaves, the content remains. Content owned by the district and remains unless directly removed.
    • Google Shared Drive cheat sheet
    • Only IT can create a shared drive. Open a help desk ticket to request a new shared drive be created.

My Drive VS Shared Drives

My Drive

The user is the owner of the drive and can share with others both inside and outside of the organization. The "organization" in this context means those with or without a Google account.

Google support documentation

Shared Drives

Shared drives are recommended whenever you need to store important files which go beyond your personal work use. Since shared drives and the files within them are owned by the organization, not an individual, they are a safe place to store curriculum, long term planning documents, or other files which need to be accessible after an individual leaves the district.


Shared Drives

Shared drives are recommended whenever you need to store important files which go beyond your personal work use. For example, when working with a team to develop curriculum or another long term project. Since shared drives and the files within them are owned by the organization, not an individual, they are a safe place to store curriculum, long term planning documents, or other files which need to be accessible after an individual leaves the district.

In general, shared drives should pertain to one specific topic. They should not contain many levels of nested folders related to different topics or subcategories. When looking at a shared drive it should be easy to tell its purpose and who has access. Additionally, shared drives have a 400,000 maximum file limit. For example, a shared drive named "HS - AP Biology Curriculum" is preferred over one named "HS - Science Curriculum."

Shared Drive Permissions

In most cases shared drives are intended to only share files internally. Outside sharing is disabled by default. This is to ensure data loss prevention. Private, internal only, or confidential district data should never be shared out. For example, do not share files in a shared drive to a personal Google account or a teacher in another district.

Here is what you would typically see as the defaults for Shared Drive Settings:

Shared drive settings can be made progressively more permissive, meaning more people can potentially access files within the drive without being members. For example, there might be a situation where you only want to share a specific folder within a shared drive to a group of people, but not the entire drive. Open a help desk ticket by emailing and ITS can help with the request.

District Curriculum Maps

One manager, some content managers where needed, everyone else commenters. Only members of the drive can view. Flesh this out more. The idea is most people would only have read only access.

PLC, Curricular, and Other Shared Drives Intended for Students

External Shared Drives

By request a shared drive can have external sharing enabled. It will be marked as EXTERNAL. Example: "EXTERNAL - HS - Parent Communication"

Files in an external shared drive are not considered secure. Do not store private, internal only, or confidential district data in an external shared drive. Consider scenarios where files need to be shared across your team which are meant for parents, community partners, or other outside groups. External shared drives are a good solution in those cases. However, be sure to separate publicly accessible files from internal only ones.


Shared Drive Naming

The best practice for shared drives is they have a specific purpose which can be tied to an audience. This makes it easier to only allow access to a shared drive when necessary where drive membership is well controlled.

Shared drive names have a least two components, and sometimes three. Components are separated by a dash for consistency when sorting in a list.

By request a shared drive can have external sharing enabled. The word EXTERNAL will prepend these drives. Example: "EXTERNAL - HS - Parent Communication"

Building or Department Based

School or Department Initials - Name

  • HS - Health Science Academy
  • HR - Accounts Receivable 2021-2022
  • ITS - Shared Drive Planning
  • HS - Yearbook

PLC Based

PLC - School Initials or Grade Level - Name

  • PLC - HS - AP Chemistry
  • PLC - RO - 3rd Grade

Note: Where PLCs overlap between buildings at a grade level that descriptor can be used instead.

  • PLC - MS - 6th Grade English

Committee Based

Committee - Committee Name - Purpose (Optional)

  • Committee - Crisis Planning
  • Committee - A/V Refresh

Curriculum Maps

Curriculum - Subject

  • Curriculum - AP Chemistry
  • Curriculum - US History

General Audience Based

Here's where we need to come to an agreement based on ideas from


Moving Files or Folders to a Shared Drive

Moving files to a shared drive has potentially negative consequences. Staff and students can lose access, embedded or integrated work can be lost (Canvas or Seesaw), and previously linked files may break. Be sure users are ready to migrate first.

Files and folders owned by outside users - those without a address -  will not be migrated to a shared drive. This is by design, copies would need to be made instead.

Large amounts of data can take hours to transfer to a shared drive. Every 10k files takes about 1 hour to move.

Before moving files or folders to a shared drive, consider the following points:

  • Moving files and folders to a shared drive changes ownership from the user to the shared drive. 
  • When you move a file to a shared drive, only members of the shared drive and people the file is directly shared with can access the file. 
  • If the original owner of a file is in your organization but not a member of the shared drive, they lose ownership but can still access the file as its creator.
  • Files moved to a shared drive don’t remain in other Drive locations, such as My Drive, but are still accessible from the user's Shared with me and Recent views.
  • Files that are moved retain their original link or address (URL).  Files that are copied and then moved have a different link or address.

Additional file management notes from Google support
Best practices for shared drives
Move content to a shared drive


My Drive - Who has access to x?

Follow these steps to walk through how to see who has access to files/folders in My Drive.

Decision Tree
Do you want to check access for a single file or multiple files?
  • Single
  • Multiple
  • Add Button
Sign into to Google Drive:

Browse to the desired folder or file in your My Drive.

Right click the file or folder and select share. If you are within the file itself click the share button in upper right hand corner. A list of users and groups with access to the file will appear.

Review the list of users and remove or update permissions as needed.

Review the link sharing settings also. By default, files are restricted only to people added to the list. 

Google at this time does not support a way to view who has access to all your My Drive folders and files. Following steps utilize a third party tool to scan your My Drive.

Browse to

Scroll down till find "Scan my Google Drive now" button and select it.

You will be prompted to sign in to your Google account and grant permission to WhoHasAccess to your Drive.

Scan times will vary depending on the number of folders and files you own and how many shares there are.

  • You can browse away from the site. This will not stop the scan.
  • You will receive an email at your Google account once the scan is complete.

Once you receive email click the link "Open WhoHasAccess report." Note the report is only available for 24 hours from creation.

After reviewing the report consider changing shared, especially external or public shared permissions on important files. Limit the view to files you own (last item in left column) and access external to our domain (last item in right column)


File Stream

File Stream is an feature that lets you stream My Drive and Shared Drive files directly from the cloud, which in turn: 

  • Allows quick access to all of your Google Drive files on demand, directly from your computer 
  • Frees up disk space and network bandwidth 
  • Decreases sync time Minimizes the amount of data stored on users’ hard drives 
  • Allows you to browse and organize Google Drive files without downloading all of them to your computer 
  • Choose which files or folders you'd like to make available offline 
  • Use desktop applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop to open and edit files stored in Google Drive
    • Windows appears as a local drive (typically G:)
    • Macbooks appears in Finder and\or on Desktop