Software

G Suite Team Drive access levels: What managers need to know

The Team Drive content manager role lets people open and edit files with Google Drive File Stream, but it also allows people to move and delete items.

A Team Drive provides shared storage space for people in organizations that use G Suite Business, Education, or Enterprise edition. What differentiates a Team Drive from a person's standard My Drive is that the Team Drive acts as the owner of any files and folders created or added to the Team Drive. As a result, when team membership changes, these files remain available to members of the Team Drive.

In October 2018, Google renamed existing Team Drive roles and added a new role. In increasing order of access, the roles of view access, comment access, edit access, and full access now become viewer, commenter, contributor, and manager, respectively.

Each of these roles has access and permissions levels that logically correspond to the name. A viewer can view and a commenter can comment. A contributor can add items, but can't move or delete items—although they can restore a deleted item from the Team Drive trash. The manager can also view, edit, move, or delete items, as well as manage team member access and permissions.

SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)

Screenshot of a Chrome browser screen that shows the Content Manager role selected as the default for a new Team Drive member.

When you add a member to a Team Drive, the "Content manager" role will be selected by default. That role allows people to view, edit, move, and delete items from a Team Drive.

New members added to a Team Drive will be assigned the "Content manager" role by default. People who have accounts with this role can do nearly everything that the Manager role may do, except add or modify team member permissions. A content manager may view, comment on, edit, and add content.

The content manager role also allows people to move and delete items. That means the default role gives a person the ability to not only re-organize items on a Team Drive, but also to move them to the trash. For people who have experience working with shared files and folders, this role may be perfectly fine.

A grid that shows viewer, commenter, contributor, content manager, and manager permissions.

Assign each Team Drive member an appropriate level of access. You'll likely want to give members who access Microsoft Office files on Google Drive File Stream on macOS or Windows "Content manager" permissions.

However, a G Suite admin or Team Drive manager may want to reduce the access level for people unaccustomed to working with shared files. I've seen people reorganize a set of shared folders without realizing that the changes they made would affect everyone. That means a person with content manager access could rearrange files and folders to group items by customer name, instead of project work stage—that can cause all sorts of challenges. Worse, I've also seen people delete shared files and folders that didn't apply to their work.

As you add Team Drive members, consider carefully if you really want every person to have content manager capabilities. A safer option may be to assign people the contributor role at first, then increase their access level once you're confident they fully understand the implications of moving and/or deleting items on a Team Drive.

Organizations that actively use Team Drives with Google Drive File Stream on Windows and/or macOS systems will likely want to give most Team Drive members content manager permissions. Without that level of access, when a person tries to open or move a PowerPoint file from the Team Drive with Drive File Stream, they'll see errors such as: "A required privilege is not held by the client" or "Can't complete action: You'll need full access on the Team Drive to create items." A Team Drive member with content manager access won't experience these issues; they should be able to open, edit, and save Office format files without errors.

Your Team Drive role settings?

If you use Team Drives in your organization, what access level do you give most team members? What has your experience been as people work with these Team Drive access levels and Drive File Stream on Windows or macOS systems? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter ( @awolber).

Also see

Screenshot of Team Drive new member creation, with Content manager role shown as the default option.

As of October 2018, new members of a Team Drive by default will receive Content Manager permissions.

Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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