Sunday, 31 May 2020

Migrating from Google Shared Folders to Google Shared Drives

Migrating from Google Shared Folders to Google Shared Drives

Don't let the names fool you; Shared Folders are very different from Shared Drives. Formerly known as Team Drives (and a much clearer name, in my opinion) Shared Drives were established in part to overcome some of the problems with Shared Folders. Generally, if there is more than one person creating and sharing documents, you will want to be using Shared Drives.

Often groups will have started off using Shared Folders because it is easy and free and already available in your standard google/gmail account. Migrating across to Shared Drives is easy enough but a planned and structured approach will save some pain in the longer term. 

Structure your new Shared Drives

You only need one Gsuite User

As I mentioned in my previous post, If you are a little organisation doing things on the cheap, you only need one Gsuite Business Account to benefit from the main features of Shared Drives. Essentially, this Gsuite user account will become the administrator that will set up sharing permissions on each Shared Drive to share the drive with other standard google/gmail accounts. 

In the drive settings for a particular drive you need to edit
Sharing outside [Organisation A]
and tick 
People outside [Organisation A] can be given access to the files in this shared drive

Set User Permissions at the Drive Level

Be aware that you can't define user permissions at the folder level, only the file level or the drive level. So, setting user permissions at the drive level provides the cleanest way of keeping control of who has access to what file. The only other option is to allow users to define sharing permissions on all individual files within a drive, which can become quite a mess (and far too time-consuming to track if you are allowing drives to be shared outside the organisation). 

In the drive settings for a particular drive you need to edit
Sharing with non-members
and tick
Only members of this shared drive can access files in this shared drive

You can then add individual google/gmail accounts as members of the drive and define their permission level to all files and folders within. Permissions levels are: Manager, Content Manager, Contributor, Commenter, Viewer.

Create Shared Drives Based on Who Needs Access

Related to the previous point, it is logical to create shared drives based on who needs access. For example, you may have the following drives:
- Admin - Common (editable by all staff)
- Admin - Confidential (editable by Admin staff only)
- Program Resources (editable by Program staff, visible to Admin staff)
I find it helpful to include who has access to the drive as part of the drive name. This reminds all staff using the drive who the audience/user base is.

Try to avoid creating too many shared drives. Content Managers cannot move files between drives. Only Managers can.

Consider the staff/volunteers in your organisation, the work that they do and the files that they store. From a master account, take a look through all the different sorts of files that are stored in your organisation's existing shared folders and consider who needs access to what. From here, create a list of the Shared Drives that you need and who needs access to each shared drive. 

Look through the list of Shared Drives you have created. Do any of them have the same or almost the same members and access levels? If so, ask yourself if these Shared Drives could be merged into a single Shared Drive (perhaps with a slightly different name)?

Moving files and folders to the new Shared Drives

Assuming there is only one Gsuite user account, then they are also the admin for the Gsuite domain. Only this account can transfer folders (including their contents) from MyDrive to Shared Drives.

Transfer ownership of relevant files and folders from the original owner accounts to the Gsuite user account. Note that a file must first be shared with a recipient before you can see the option to transfer ownership to them (I don't know why, perhaps a safety check). It is helpful to use the advanced search features in Google Drive to be able to list the specific files and folders that you are interested in, when transferring ownership.

Ownership of all relevant files and folders needs to have been transferred to the Gsuite account from all owners before going onto the next step or you will create a big mess with orphaned files and folders.

From within the Gsuite user account, move these files and folders across from MyDrive to the relevant Shared Drives that you created. Just drag and drop. (Note that it is not possible to move files/folders that are "Shared with Me" to Shared Drives; they must be Owned by Me).

Quick and dirty alternative: just download the entire directory. All files and folders (including subfolders) will be downloaded. Then upload this to your Google Shared Drive. (NB: Google docs and Sheets will be converted to Microsoft Word and Excel format and version history will be lost. Google forms and apps scripts will not be downloaded).

How to delete files and folders whilst preventing orphans

If you have transferred ownership of all relevant files and folders to the one google account then you can safely and cleanly delete them all in one go. However, if some of them are owned by different users (e.g. if you used the Quick and dirty alternative above) then you will have more work to do to delete all files and folders, as follows.

In a shared collection within MyDrive, you need to be careful when deleting folders to make sure that you don't end up with orphaned files and folders

To prevent this from happening for each Gmail user account:
1. create a new folder in Mydrive and call it "to delete"
2. using the google drive advanced search find all files (but not folders) that are located in the root folder that you wanted to transfer. A list of files will be shown.
3. Select all these files and move them to the folder "to delete"
4. delete the folder "to delete". (You have deleted the relevant files for this owner without deleting the folders).
Once you have gone through the above for each Gmail user account, go through it again for all the folders (instead of files). 
I know, it's a pain but it's better than trying to work out which orphaned files are the ones you want to delete and which ones are ones that were orphaned at some other time.