Google Team Drives

Google Team Drives - Available September 2017

Team Drives are available to Mount Holyoke College as of September 1st, 2017. Team Drives offer several advantages over standard Google Drive folders, but also have some limitations you should consider before using them. Here's what you need to know to get started with Google Team Drives.

What are Team Drives and why use them?

Google Team Drives are a way of creating shared folders that allow a group of people (or Team Drive 'members') to collaborate. They are different from regular Google Drive folders because they don't have one Owner, but rather are owned by the Mount Holyoke domain itself.

If any members of a Team Drive folder graduate or leave the College, the Team Drive folder still exists and remains available to the other remaining members. This assures that a folder or file in a Team Drive folder will persist over time.

LITS has created a set of guidelines to consider when using Team Drives. You might want to create a new Team Drive folder instead of a regular Google Drive folder when:

  • Creating a shared folder with the primary purpose of allowing for group collaboration between multiple users,
  • Creating a shared folder that is likely to be in use on a long term basis, especially if the people using that folder are likely to come and go over time,
  • Creating a shared folder that is used for operational purposes that support a business or academic function at the College,
  • Creating a shared folder that will not contain PII (Personally Identifiable Information) or other sensitive data.

The more of these conditions apply, the more likely it is that a Team Drive folder will suite your needs.

Can I move a regular Google Drive folder to Team Drives?

There is currently no straightforward method of migrating a Google Drive folder to Team Drives. Google does not allow dragging and dropping folders from Google Drive to Team Drive, and only allows moving individual files if the user moving them is the owner of the files. These limitations make migration of existing Google Drive folders potentially messy and tedious since folder structures have to be manually recreated and files moved by each owner.

Because it is likely that Google will release a smoother migration path from Google Drive to Team Drives in the forseeable future, it is LITS' current recommendation that users wait for that release before attempting to migrate existing folders to Team Drives. For now, LITS recommends that you only use Team Drives to create new shared folders.

Can I sync Team Drive folders to my local hard drive using the Google Drive sync application?

Team Drives cannot be synced from Google cloud storage to your local hard drive using the Google Drive sync application. The Google Drive sync application will continue to work for syncing regular Google Drive folders and files to your local hard drive.

Eventually, Google will be releasing a new service which will replace the Google Drive sync application, called Google Drive File Stream.  

File Stream will support local storage of Team Drives' folders and files, and we hope to see a release of this new product some time during this upcoming academic year. In the meantime, if you need to access any Team Drive files offline, you will need to download those files manually to your local hard drive.

Where can I learn more about how Team Drives work?

Google maintains a "Getting Started with Team Drives" web page that is useful for getting oriented and started out using Team Drives. We recommend you spend some time reviewing the instructions on that page when you first start using Team Drives.

As always, if you have any questions about this new Google feature, please feel free to contact the Help Desk at or at extension 2600.