Best practices for Team Drives

Want to save a PDF version of this guide? If you're using Chrome browser, print this page and select the "Save as PDF" option. If you're using other browsers or third-party PDF tools, see their instructions on how to save webpages as PDF files.

What is Team Drives?

Think of Team Drives as a shared space where teams can easily store, search, and access common files anywhere, from any device.

Unlike files in My Drive, files in a Team Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay put so you—and the rest of the team—can continue to access information and get work done.

Get the most out of Team Drives with these best practices and tips.

Important: Team Drives is only available with the G Suite Enterprise, Business, or Education editions. If you don't see Team Drives in Google Drive, it might not be available for your organization. For details, contact your G Suite administrator.


When to use Team Drives


Differences between My Drive and Team Drives

Some key differences between My Drive and Team Drives are:

My Drive

Team Drives

Who can add files?

My Drive

The person who owns My Drive.

Team Drives

Any member with Contributor access or higher.

What types of files can I add?

My Drive

All file types.

Team Drives

All file types (except Google Maps).

Who owns files and folders?

My Drive

The individual who created the file or folder.

Team Drives

The team.

Can I move files and folders?

My Drive

Yes, you can move files and folders around in My Drive.

Team Drives

  • If you have Contributor access or higher, you can move files from My Drive to a Team Drive.
  • If you have Content manager access or higher, you can move files and folders within a Team Drive.
  • If you have Manager access, you can move files out of a Team Drive or between Team Drives.
  • If you want to move folders from My Drive to Team Drives, contact your G Suite admin.

For details on adding files to a Team Drive, see Get started with Team Drives.

Can I sync files to my computer?

My Drive

Yes, using Drive File Stream or Backup and Sync.

Team Drives

It depends on which sync solution you use:

  • Drive File Stream: Yes
  • Backup and Sync: No

How does sharing work?

My Drive

Different users might see different files in a folder, depending on their access to individual files.

Team Drives

All members of the Team Drive see all files.

How long do files I delete stay in Trash?

My Drive

Files or folders in Trash remain there until the user selects Delete Forever.

Team Drives

  • Each Team Drive has its own Trash.
  • Members with Content manager access and above can move files to Trash.
  • Files and folders in Trash are deleted forever after 30 days.
  • Members with Manager access can permanently delete files before 30 days.

Can I restore files?

My Drive

Yes, if you’re an owner of the file.

Team Drives

Yes, if you have at least Contributor access.


When to use Team Drives

Consider using a Team Drive in these situations:

  • You’re working on a project or event with a group of people who all need access to the same files.
  • Most of your files are shared with the same group of people.
  • Your files share a consistent theme or topic.
  • The content you want to store isn’t personal and is of interest to a specific team or group.

Common uses for Team Drives

Common uses for Team Drives include:

  • Projects—For people involved in the same project.
  • Events—For people working for a defined period of time on a specific event or deliverable.
  • Templates—For files that people can copy and reuse.
  • Company-wide files—For files everyone needs access to, such as training files.
  • Sensitive files—For highly sensitive files, where you can add extra security to limit access.

Move files to a Team Drive

To migrate your files from My Drive to a Team Drive, move them instead of making copies. That way, links remain intact and existing collaborators keep access.

In this section:


Move files to a Team Drive

First, note the following:

  • You can move multiple files at once.
  • You can’t move folders from My Drive into a Team Drive, but you can create new folders in a Team Drive.
  • Anyone you directly shared a file with retains access, unless your Team Drive doesn’t allow non-members.
  • People who had access to the file from a shared folder don’t retain access once you move a file. If you want these people to keep access, update your permissions after moving your files to a Team Drive.

To move files from My Drive into a Team Drive or between Team Drives, drag the files into the destination Team Drive folder. To move folders, contact your G Suite admin.

Move files from My Drive to Team Drives:

You can move any file you own into a Team Drive, whether it’s from another Drive location or from your computer or mobile device.

If you’re not the owner of a file in My Drive, but you have at least Edit access to the file, you might be able to move that file into a Team Drive, if:

  • Your G Suite admin has enabled this option.
  • The file’s owner is a member of the Team Drive where you want to move the file.

Otherwise, you need to ask the owner to move the file into the Team Drive.

Move files between Team Drives:

To move files between Team Drives, you need Manager access to the original Team Drive and at least Contributor access to the destination Team Drive.


Manage Team Drive files

Get tips for structuring a Team Drive, adding files, and searching for files.

In this section:


Set up a Team Drive

Create Team Drives based on who has access

Whatever access level you give to someone for a Team Drive is the level they’ll have for all folders in that Team Drive. You can change access levels on individual files, but not on folders.

Example: Say everyone on a sales team needs access to the same resources. Create a Team Drive for the sales team, so they have a central repository for the important collateral they need for their job.

Set naming conventions

To avoid naming conflicts in Team Drives, folders, or files, agree on organization-wide naming conventions.


  • Say your company has sales divisions in different regions. You could create a Team Drive for each sales region and prefix the Team Drive name with the region or an abbreviation of the region.
  • Indicate status by appending a prefix, such as [Archive] to a project that’s no longer active or [In Progress] to a project that’s active.
  • To distinguish between Team Drives that are shared externally and internally, add the prefix [External] or [Internal].

Create folders for related topics

Classify content into folders. Then, nest folders for related topics.


  • Create a Team Drive for Project X, then create folders for each topic.
  • Create a Team Drive for your marketing department, then create folders for each project.

Focus each Team Drive on a single project or department

If a Team Drive has a lot of members, you might have too many projects or departments represented. That can make it hard to find and manage content. Keep each Team Drive focused on a single project or department and then create folders for each topic or project.

Example: Create a Team Drive for Project X. Create a folder for each topic area within the project. This keeps files organized so members of Project X can easily find what they’re looking for.

Visually distinguish different Team Drives with themes

Quickly distinguish your Team Drive from others by adding an image to the Team Drive banner. See Change your Team Drive theme.


When to create files in My Drive instead of a Team Drive

Create files in My Drive if:

  • You’re working on personal files.
  • You want to draft the file privately. You can move it to a Team Drive when you’re ready to share or collaborate. Ownership then transfers from you to the team.
  • Create files in a Team Drive if:
    • You’re working on files that you want to share with a team.
    • You want to collaborate on files right away.

Find files in a Team Drive

As a Team Drive grows, it can be tricky to find specific content. You can limit your search to a specific Team Drive.

Search in a Team Drive or folder:

  1. Right-click a Team Drive and click Search within Team Drive name.
  2. In the Search box, enter your search term and press Enter.

Set access levels for a Team Drive

Set access levels based on your Team Drive’s purpose

For any type of Team Drive, give people who need to manage the Team Drive Manager access so they can add or remove members, delete content, and so on.

For everyone else, if the Team Drive is:

  • An active space for collaboration—Give people Content manager access or Contributor access so they can update content. Content managers can move files and folders within a Team Drive or move files to the trash (but they can't delete files permanently).
  • A repository for final content—Give people Commenter or Viewer access so content can’t be updated.

Control who can delete files

If you want people to be able to:

  • Move files to trash—Give them at least Content manager access.
  • Permanently delete files from trash—Give them Manager access.
  • Restore files from trash—Give them at least Contributor access.

Deleting a file removes it from the Team Drive for all members. The file goes into Trash and is permanently deleted after 30 days or sooner if a member with Manager access deletes it.

Consider how your collaborators edit non-Google files

If your collaborators use Drive File Stream to access non-Google files (such as an Adobe® PDF® or Microsoft® Office® file), give them Content manager access.

Note: Members with Contributor access can still make edits offline on their desktop and then upload updated versions without Drive File Stream. See Keep all drafts in one Drive file, and revert versions anytime.

Change access levels and Team Drive names for completed projects

If your Team Drive is based around a project, once it’s complete, you can:

  • Change people’s access from Manager, Content manager, or Contributor to Commenter or Viewer access.
  • Add a status to the Team Drive name, such as [Archive].

Now, the Team Drive is more like a repository than an active project folder.


Request access to a Team Drive

It’s best to request access to a Team Drive from the person who shared a link to the Team Drive. If they have Manager access, they can add you directly. And, the request for access won’t be sent to all members of the Team Drive with Manager access.


Share Team Drive files with non-members

You can share Team Drive files with non-members.

Note: Your G Suite admin or Managers of a Team Drive can disable this option for different Team Drives.

When you share a file with a non-member, it appears in their Shared with me folder in Drive. They can continue to access it there or in their Recent folder, but they won’t be able to add it to My Drive or another Team Drive.

Create separate Team Drives for groups of non-members

If you’re sharing many files with the same group of non-members, create a separate Team Drive and add those people as members.

Example: Working on a project with an external agency? Create a Team Drive for internal team members and a separate Team Drive for internal and external collaborators. This way, you can prevent external members from accessing internal-only content.


Restrict sharing in a Team Drive

Limit sharing externally or with non-members

For sensitive files in a Team Drive, members with Manager access can limit sharing (with non-members or people outside of your organization). They can specify if files can be:

  • Shared with people who are not in your domain.
  • Shared with people who are not members of the Team Drive.
  • Downloaded, copied, or printed by commenters and viewers.

Protect all files in a Team Drive:

Requires Manager access

  1. On the left, click the Team Drive that contains the files you want to protect.
  2. At the top, next to the Team Drive name, click the Down arrow arrow_drop_down > Team Drive settings.
  3. Click Edit to set any of these permissions:
    • Sharing files with people outside of your organization
    • Sharing files with people in your organization who aren’t members of the Team Drive
    • Allowing people with Commenter and Viewer access to download, copy, or print files
  4. After you choose an option, click Apply.
  5. Click Done.

Don’t add an entire organization to a Team Drive

Unless content is highly focused, don't share a Team Drive with your entire organization.


  • Do: Create a Team Drive containing office policies for all employees of a U.S.-based company.
  • Don’t: Create a Team Drive for an entire international company and then add a folder called US Office Policies. This can make organizing and searching the Team Drive difficult.

Manage membership with Google Groups

Create a group in Google Groups to add people to a Team Drive. Then, you can also send weekly email updates and other announcements to the group. See Add members and set permissions.

Consider sharing limits

A Team Drive can include a large number of individual and group members:

  • You can add up to 600 individual or group email addresses.
  • A group can contain up to 50,000 members.

Note: A group and an individual are counted as one member. If a person is added individually and as a member of a group, they still only count as one member.


Track changes in a Team Drive

Fore the latest updates in a Team Drive, go to the Activity stream to see:

  • Membership changes
  • New or deleted files
  • Changes to Team Drive settings
  • Who changed files and when

See recent activity for a Team Drive:

  1. Open Google Drive and on the left, select a Team Drive.
  2. At the top right, click View details info.
  3. Click Activity.

Next steps

Try it now

Go to Drive and click Team Drives to get started.

Note: If you don't see Team Drives, it might not be enabled. Contact your G Suite administrator.

Get more training

Get tips for using Team Drives, learn best practices, or reference a cheat sheet.