Solutions with Shared Drives

Here’s the scenario. It’s a new year and your staff has shuffled positions. You have added them to the proper distribution lists, calendars, and updated the school website. All systems are a go…until the phone rings. The staff member is happily in their new position but realizes that they need files that the previous staff member had in their drive. You want to transfer ownership of the files but using the Drive and Docs Transfer tool would mean migrating all of the Drive files from the previous owner to the new owner. However, the previous staff member needs some of the files still in their Drive and wants to remain the owner of those files. SOLUTION! 

You can just transfer ownership of the files one by one! Except for one catch… there are 300 files that need to be moved… There doesn’t seem to be a built-in solution for scenarios like this. Unless the solution is right in front of our eyes.

Answer: Shared drives. But wait, aren’t Shared drives for long term storage of files? Correct, they operate primarily as a long term storage solution but we can use the ownership transfer inside of Shared drives for another purpose. Let’s explore. 

When you migrate a file into a Shared Drive you are converting ownership of that file from the individual to the domain. This means that if the original creator’s account is ever deleted the files will stay on the domain since they are owned by the domain. And that’s it, right? Once the files are owned by the domain that’s the end of the road? Actually it is not. As a manager of a Shared Drive you have the ability to move files around inside of a Shared Drive. Additionally, you have the ability to move files from a Shared Drive into your own Drive which in turn changes ownership to you. This is most likely an unintended function of Shared Drives, but we can leverage it in this situation to our advantage. 

The steps to take are simple. Create a Shared Drive and enroll both the current owner and future owner of the files in the Shared Drive as a Managers. The current owner migrates the files to be transferred to the Shared Drive. The future owner grabs (a simple select all will grab all of the files) and moves those files into their My Drive. Ownership is then transferred to the future owner and you have successfully migrated select files to their new owner.

Pretty easy right? But here are a few things you will want to consider during the process. If you are creating a unique Shared Drive for each of these transfers you will want to delete these Shared Drives after you are done using them to avoid sprawl and “dead drives” living on your domain. One idea is to create one Shared Drive titled “Transfer Shared Drive” and simply add and remove users on a case by case basis. You will want to ensure that you don’t have two groups trying to do data transfers in the same Shared Drive at the same time in the event they accidentally transfer the wrong files out of the Shared Drive. Another pitfall to look out for is that folders can not be moved unless you are a Super Admin or have a custom Admin Role (pictured below) in G Suite. Reminder to remove Admin Privileges from users after the process is complete.

This means users will need to move the files in groups or one by one. Although it is time-consuming this may be the best way to only transfer the intended files. One thing to also realize is that this method of file transfers could also result in data loss if an outside user is added to a Shared drive as a Manager. Luckily we have an admin control that can block outside users from accessing Shared drives.

This means users will need to move the files in groups or one by one. Although it is time-consuming this may be the best way to only transfer the intended files. One thing to also realize is that this method of file transfers could also result in data loss if an outside user is added to a Shared Drive as a Manager. Luckily we have an admin control that can block outside users from accessing Shared Drives.

Shared Drives have been getting updates recently and one of the updates is a Beta which allows you to control folder level permissions and grant granular level access inside of a Shared Drive. This allows you to upgrade someone’s membership in Shared Drives and control access to files and folders instead of adding someone to a Shared Drive and in turn granting them access to all files and folders in the Shared Drive. To find out more about the Beta read this release blog post.

To recap, this scenario is one that we get asked about with the Drive and Docs Transfer tool and unfortunately, the built-in tool sometimes migrates over too much data. It’s definitely a workaround, but one that can come in very handy at the beginning of the school year with so much staff shuffling going on. What other handy workarounds have you found?

Connect with our team to learn more or for support.

  • Kendal Shomura
    Google Consultant

  • About the Author:

    Kendal Shomura joined the Amplified IT team in 2018 after 7 years working in Public Schools as an educator, Instructional Coach, Technology Integration Specialist, and as a Professor in Masters of Educational Technology program at Touro University. He spent 3 years as a Google Administrator while training staff on how to integrate G Suite tools into their classrooms. Kendal’s wide array of experiences with Educational Technology allows him to understand the important nuances of technology in schools. Today, he is a Google for Education Consultant who works to help schools better understand their Google environment and empowers them to configure G Suite in the most optimum way for student safety while still allowing for robust usage of the tools.