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Using Team Drive in GSuite.

Team Drive became generally available in early March 2017 and allows for the creation of a Google drive area under the ownership of a group account rather than a single user.

Some of the main functions are described below to allow administrators to plan for this exciting new feature.




Enabling Team Drive and Console Management.

The rights to create Team Drives can be controlled at the OU level from App - Drive - Settings section.

This tends to be set OFF by default and needs to be reset for the appropriate OU before you can start using Team Drives.












For users new to Team Drive it might be an idea to restrict to the creation of Team Drive to a specific OU's until you become familiar with it's usage. The dialog above suggests that that this ability maybe a temporary option.

It can take a few hours before Team Drive become available after the option has been selected. Be patient !




Although you cannot create Team Drives from the console, admins can see all Team Drives in the organisation and update ownership.


From the console dashboard go to Apps - G Suite - Drive and Docs - Manage Team Drives.
From here you can add, remove and update user permissions to all the Team Drives in you organisation (above). There is also the option to restore data, an action which is described later.

The same facility is also available directly from the user dialog which has a Team Drives section which lists all Team Drives accessible to the user with the facility to update members and access permissions.

Files stored within Team Drives are now fully supported in Vault.



Team Drive User Interface.
All users in an OU’s that has Team Drive turned on will see a new root icon and can use the icon to create a new Team Drive with a right mouse click.


Creation requires one input  - the name for the new drive. Team Drive names do not have to be unique. A school rolling out Team Drive should consider adopting a schema similar to Classroom names otherwise you run run the risk of many shares all called "My Team Drive".


Team Drive creation only takes a few seconds after which the Team Drive opens to the user interface. Google will apply a default theme to the drive which adopts a Classroom material design look and feel.


Selecting the drop down icon next to the name provides some basic options.




The change theme option allows you to update the background to a fixed set of images. There is no custom option as yet.



Rename allows you to update the Team Drive Name. There does not seem to be any implications to this action but it reinforces the importance of a naming schema as it’s possible rename a Team Drive to an existing name and therefore cause a good deal of confusion (above).


Adding Members.

The add members dialog allows you to add both user and group accounts. The group is not expanded in entry and can be actioned as a group going forward (unlike Google Play for Education).












By default the access rights are Full Access. This can be adjusted using the drop down before selecting the user.

The same four options are available from the Modify Members menu if you need to adjust an user or group option after the initial import.

Once a user have been granted access to a Team Drive the share is immediately available to other users..



A user with EDIT rights can upload, update, rename and move a file they have created but they are not able to delete it.


This is because all files in a Team Drive are owned by the Team Drive itself and not the user members. Team drive files have creators but not owners. Only users with Full Access rights can delete files.




Users with Full Access and Edit Access rights can edit, rename and move any file regardless of the creator.


View and Comment access are self explanatory. Neither option allows adding or creating files.





Mobile Support.
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The Drive mobile app currently supports Team Drive on both iOS and Android with a similar feature set.

I've noted that it can take a number of hours before Team Drive turns up on the iOS app after being enabled.

After that any Teams Drives shared with the user are displayed within minutes.



Adding Files.



All Team Drives are created empty and can be populated directly by users creating files in that area or by moving files from other areas into Team Drive.


The options for these actions can be found under the NEW button.


The file and folder upload option relates to transferring files from areas other than Google Drive. Selection opens a dialog that allow for to select files and folders from the client (Windows/Mac) data drive.




Use this method to migrate files from local Windows shares to Team Drive. The file creator will be the user account used to migrate the files. Team Drive rights will apply to the new files.


Note: You cannot nest team drives. If you have a windows file and folder hierarchy that has differential access permissions as you move down the tree these areas will map to separate Team drives that you need to create manually.




In the example above each of the nested folders would equate to a separate Team Drive if the OS file level permission restricted access. There is also a 100,000 file limit per Team Drive which is another good reason to break up a monolithic windows share into multiple Team Drives.

Users can create individual files from the Google docs icons if they have the correct access level.


The user will be the creator but not the file owner.



No owner is listed against the file properties for a file stored in Team Drive.

The share option dialog for all files in Team Drive is also updated from the standard offering.




Moving files from a personal GDrive into Team Drive has certain implications.


You can move files individually by dragging then from a personal GDrive into Team Drive or by selecting the Move option and back tracking through to the menu to find the Team Drive folders.


The Add (Shift Z) function does not work with Team Drive as only produces a link to the original file and that would require two sets of access rights on a single file which doesn’t make sense.


To copy a file you need to duplicate the original and then move the copy.


By default you cannot move folders into Team Drive as a single action unless you have super rights.

Without super rights you can select the Move option on the drive folder but back tracking through to the Team Drive will show it greyed out.




However this action can be altered by granting permission allow non-super accounts to migrate files to Team Drive. The property can be found in Apps - G Suite - Drive and Docs - Migration Settings and can be turned on or off at the sub-organisational level.




It can take some hours before the Team Drive becomes available for folder migration once the feature has been set in the console.


Moving files from Team Drive back to personal drives creates a warning regarding the change of ownership and the fact that users will lose access


The change is immediately reflected on members drives.








Deleting Files.


Only users with Full Access rights can delete files. The delete option reflects the fact that the operation will remove the file for the whole team.





All users get a separate Trash Can for each Team drive they are a member of,





Each Trash Can only shows the files deleted from that Team Drive. A file deleted by admin user A will display in the Trash Can of user B (with edit rights).


User B has rights to restore the file deleted by User A from the Trash Can. The file will restore to the same location without any additional prompts.



The rules for deleted files is different for Team Drives than Personal Drives.


A deleted file will remain in the Trash for 30 days after which it is deleted permanently.


A user can delete a file from the Team Drive trash before 30 days in the same way they can remove a file from a personal trash.

In this case an admin can recover the file using the restore option which can be found to the right of every Team Drive in the admin console section Apps - G Suite - Drive and Docs - Manage Team Drives.


A dialog is displayed that allows the admin to provide a time period for the data recovery action for that Drives trash folder.













Although not explicitly stated this option is unlikely to extend the period that files can be recovered over the 30 day period.



Team Drive Behaviour.

Team drive creation does not have to be turned on for all sub-organisations.

When Team Drive creation is not enabled for a user account the icon does not appear as part of Google Drive. However if a Team Drive is then shared with a non-active user account the icon and share will appear and the user can access the Team Drive at whatever permission level has been granted.

However if the non-active user clicks of the Team drive icon they will notice the option to create a Team is greyed out.



Deleting A Team Drive.

A Team Drive can only be deleted when it’s emptied of files. The action is irreversible and is accessed from the NEW menu.



Removing the last Admin from a Team Drive.

If you have admin rights you can remove members of a Team Drive until only you remain. At that point you can change your own access rights to remove yourself. Google does not prevent this action but does issue a warning.



As well as the consequences listed in the dialog the organisation loses access to all the files in the affected Team Drive however this can be fixed from the admin console by adding accounts directly to the Team Drive.


Other Information.
Googles Training and Help articles on Team Drive can be found here.