Google gives people who use G Suite Business, Enterprise, Education, or Nonprofit editions two distinct types of Google Drive storage: My Drive and Team Drives. Both serve as a reliable place to store, organize, and share files. Yet, there's one major difference between the two: When you add a file to a Team Drive, all members of the Team Drive gain access to the file, but when you add a file to My Drive, your file remains private by default.
Google also gives G Suite administrators the ability to adjust the default file access and sharing settings for Google Drive and Team Drives. Most G Suite administrators review and configure Google Drive settings during the initial G Suite deployment, but Google recently added more settings in mid-2018 to help secure Team Drive data.
Review the following settings to manage, protect, and monitor your organization's Team Drives. You'll need a G Suite administrator account for your organization to access Admin console settings.
1. Manage Team Drives
In many cases, your organization's default Google Drive sharing settings also serve as the default Team Drive sharing settings. Sign in to the G Suite admin console (at admin.google.com), then navigate to Apps > G Suite > Drive and Docs > Sharing Settings. Review these setting to ensure that external sharing is either allowed or restricted appropriately.
Immediately below the Sharing settings section, you'll see Team Drive creation controls. Each of these five options prevents a different action. Any selection made here applies to ALL of the organization's Team Drives. For example, a G Suite administrator at an organization especially concerned with security could select all five of these options, which would result in Team Drive access being restricted solely to people within an organization, and with only members of a Team Drive being able to access files on that Team Drive. Such a configuration would also constrain downloading, copying, and printing of files from the Team Drive.
SEE: Comparison chart: Enterprise collaboration tools (Tech Pro Research)
A more frequently-used configuration might be to check only the "Prevent full-access members from modifying Team Drive settings" option. This ensures that a G Suite administrator can select the sharing, membership, and content action options allowed (i.e., access to download, copy, or print) for each Team Drive, without the risk that a full-access member might modify these settings.
2. Protect Team Drive content
A G Suite administrator may also review and adjust membership, sharing, and content action settings for all Team Drives. Again, login to the Admin console (admin.google.com), then navigate to Apps > G Suite > Drive and Docs > Team Drive > Manage Team Drives.
For each Team Drive an administrator may choose to enable or disable:
- Sharing outside the organization
- Sharing with non-members
- The ability of people to download, copy, and print files from the Team Drive
And, for each Team Drive, the administrator may also prevent Team Drive members with full-access from modifying these settings.
Since these settings apply to each Team Drive, you can configure very flexible and open options that allow external sharing and content actions for some Team Drives, while also choosing much more locked-down options that prohibit external sharing and content actions for other Team Drives.
Importantly, as long as a G Suite administrator doesn't prohibit it, members of a Team Drive who have full-access permissions may adjust Team Drive settings.
3. Monitor Team Drive changes
G Suite also gives administrators the ability to review Team Drive changes. Sign in to the Admin console, then go to Reports > Audit > Drive > then look for the Item Type filter (in the column on the left) and choose "Team Drive" from the options. Go to the bottom of this column, then select "Search" to apply the filter. You'll then see a report of all Team Drive administrative activity for your organization.
You can add additional filters to this report, too. For example, in addition to selecting "Team Drive" items, you might also look for the "Item Visibility Change" option, and choose "Internal to External," then select Search. This displays a report of Team Drive items now available to people outside the organization, which were previously only available internally.
Your thoughts on Team Drive?
If you use Team Drives for files at your organization, what settings do you use most often? If you're a G Suite administrator, have you restricted any Team Drive settings — or do you allow most actions? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter (@awolber).
- Special report: The future of Everything as a Service (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- How to set up Google Team Drives (TechRepublic)
- Google Cloud Platform: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Google gives G Suite customers new ways to protect against phishing, mobile threats (TechRepublic)
- How to move files from an on-site server to Google Drive (TechRepublic)
- Slack expands Google partnership with new Google Drive integrations (ZDNet)
- How to protect your files on Google Team Drives (TechRepublic)
- How to collaborate in Team Drive with someone who doesn't have a Google account (TechRepublic)
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.