Google Shared Drive

Last updated: January 24, 2023
Please note: As of 8/25/21, the creation of new UW Google accounts for Shared UW NetIDs and the creation of new Google Shared Drives has been disabled. Additional changes to UW Google are likely. For more detail and regular updates, see UW Google Changes Project.

On This Page

Overview: What is a Google Shared Drive?

UW Google Shared Drives offer the best collaboration space for UW Google. In a Shared Drive, files are “owned” by the Shared Drive and the members of the Shared Drive, instead of an individual. Storing files in a Shared Drive ensures that the team is responsible for files rather than each individual being responsible for files, and helps to ensure files critical to collaboration are not deleted when an individual departs from the UW and their UW Google account is deleted.

Please note: The ability to create new Google Shared Drives is currently disabled. 

Additional information

Learn more about Google Shared Drives

Get started with Google Shared Drives

Watch a 30-second video describing Google Shared Drives

Shared Drive member roles

Shared Drive members who have the Manager role can change the roles of other Shared Drive members.

Shared Drives have five roles with decreasing permissions: 

  • Manager (manage content, people, and settings) *HIGHEST PERMISSIONS*
  • Content Manager (add, edit, move, and delete files) – this is the default when adding new members to a Shared Drive
  • Contributor (add and edit files) 
  • Commenter 

Manage a Shared Drive

Click here to learn how to manage a Shared Drive, including adding files and members & managing sharing permissions

Promoting a Content Manager to Manager

A Shared Drive will be left without a Manager when the creator of a Shared Drive departs the UW and their UW Google account is subsequently deleted. This results in an “unmanaged” Shared Drive, i.e. there is no UW Google account with the ability to manage the Google accounts with access to the Shared Drive or the settings of the Shared Drive. A Shared Drive without a currently employed UW Employee in the Manager role is subject to deletion.

Please note: UW Employees who are using an affiliated email address with a domain other than must update the UW Google Shared Drive permissions to include the UW email address tied to their UW NetID account.

Requesting a promotion from Content Manager to Manager

Please note that:

  • We will not promote any UW Google account with permissions of Contributor, Commenter, or Viewer to Manager  
  • We will not promote non-UW employee Google accounts to Manager   
  • We will not promote a Content Manager to Manager if there are other Managers on the Shared Drive

If all of these conditions are met, a UW employee who is a Content Manager can email with a request to be promoted to Manager. 

In your email to please include:

  • EMAIL SUBJECT: “Promote from Content Manager to Manager on Google Shared Drive”
  • The name of the Shared Drive(s)
  • The URL of the Shared Drive(s)
  • The statement “I need access to these Shared Drive(s) as part of my job responsibilities as a UW employee.”

Shared Drive Deletion Policy

Shared Drives are subject to deletion when there is no currently employed UW Employee’s UW Google account ( in the Manager role.

Restoring Deleted Files

Files deleted from a Shared Drive are stored in the Shared Drive trash for 30 days, then they permanently deleted with no recovery available. To access the Shared Drive’s trash, click the Shared Drive then click Trash.

Please be aware that this does not apply to the admin deletion of an entire Shared Drive during the Shared Drive Deletion Policy. In this case, the Shared Drive cannot be restored.

Install Google Drive for Desktop

You can find and open your files from a Shared Drive on your computer with Google Drive for desktop. You can:

  • Save specific files and folders offline, including shared drives.
  • View and organize your files in your computer’s file system without using storage space.
  • Open files on your computer.

Click here to download Google Drive for Desktop

Shared Drive Limits

Click here to read about Shared Drive limits

Upcoming service tiers, quotas, and rates for Shared Drives

In 2021, Google made the decision to stop offering unlimited free storage with its Google Workspace for Education offering. As a result, UW now must pay the newly associated storage costs. Shared Drives will use a fee-based structure starting July 2024 to ensure funding is met for the service.


Q: Can non-UW Google accounts be a member of a Shared Drive?

A: Yes, any Google account can be a member of a Shared Drive. A Google account includes consumer Google accounts and Google Workspace accounts from other organizations.

Q: Can a Google-enabled UW Group be used to grant access to a Shared Drive?

A: Yes, click here for more information.

Q: Does the amount of storage used by a Shared Drive count against the UW Google account storage quota of accounts that are part of a Shared Drive?

A: No.

Q: Can UW-IT move files to a Shared Drive on my behalf?

A: Unfortunately, UW-IT cannot move files to a Shared Drive on your behalf, even if these files belong to you.

The current tooling from Google that provides “bulk file move” services does not easily identify the owner(s) of content considered for processing, nor does it easily identify private, unshared files in folders that could also be moved and subsequently revealed. This deficiency in tooling creates a risk scenario in which UW-IT could potentially move files owned by others who have not given their consent. We must comply with UW privacy and data stewardship policies and practices, and we do not change ownership or copy content unless the process is undertaken via an appropriate HR process, legal request process, or FOIA request process. UW-IT also cannot arbitrate or otherwise determine intellectual property ownership different from the technical owner value in UW Google.

Additionally, before UW-IT could begin to offer a service to move files to a Shared Drive on behalf of users, proper procedures would first need to be established and vetted with the UW Privacy Office, UW Division of the Attorney General’s Office, Human Resources, and Registrar (the latter, for when data owned by students is involved). Finally, migrations of any sort are “high-touch support” as a rule and UW-IT expects significant staffing would be needed. UW-IT is evaluating adding such services, after the proper procedures are established and vetted as detailed above, and we would expect them to be recharge services with rates that would need to be determined once staffing is identified.

There is no expected availability date for this service.