How G Suite Team Drives enables enterprise data storage and collaboration

Google Team Drives is an enterprise storage management system that enhances collaboration within teams and organizations. Google tweaked their content sharing and ownership models to be more applicable to enterprise needs. This includes making sharing and ownership of content more structured and secure and creating an interface that is easy to use and navigate.


Who can access Team Drives?

Team drives are only accessible via G Suite Business, Enterprise, and Education. Some of the main features of Team Drives include:

  • Everyone in the team sees everything in the Drive

  • Everyone gets content immediately when it is added

  • Even as team members leave, team files remain

Files are owned by the teams rather than individuals, so team members who leave do not inconvenience the flow and availability of information. Here is a deeper look at how enterprises can enhance collaboration and secure data with Team Drives:


Enterprise admins can decide who in their teams can create Team Drives. Teams can then collaborate on tasks in the team drives.

Google File Stream

Now that the team has access to files and folders, there are some demerits of storing files online; bandwidth costs money and staff cannot work offline. Google File Stream addresses these and takes care of synchronization.


Google File Stream lets users access files in Team Drives offline. The files also sync automatically every time users are connected to the internet. The files automatically update whenever users go online.



Control how each member of the team interacts with the information by setting permissions according to the privileges that each member needs to collaborate effectively.  Team members can have the following levels of access:

  • Full access - Members with full access have the greatest liberties on what they can do with files. This is the default access level for each team member. It is a convenient option to enhance full collaboration among teams. A team member with full access can view, edit, create and control access to files and folders.

With some types of teams, it might be a great idea to limit some of the privileges, especially when the files are already structured by the admins. In such cases, team members can be restricted to lesser capabilities in the team drives with the options below.

  • Edit access - Edit access is the next level of access below full access. It has fewer privileges but gives users many capabilities within the team.

If you set senior members of a team to full access, you can set their juniors to edit access depending on the types of files and nature of tasks. For example, management might have rights to create employee records while team managers only get edit access to input information.

  • Comment Access - This is an option for team members who may need to view and even comment on files but not edit them. Consider an accountant in the sales team. They might not be involved in editing the sales data, but they can want to comment on some entries.

  • View access - This is the lowest level of privileges to assign in Team Drives.  Users can only view files. This type of access can be granted to members with limited roles like interns and trainees if the information is sensitive and members need some training before they get more roles.

Team Drives also come with a smart search function that lets users search in a team or across all teams for the files they need.

Collaboration case study

A team manager runs a small team of eight members who are tasked with recruiting retailers for water bottles in New York. The city is divided into five boroughs. Five team members are tasked with cold calling prospects in these locations while the other two handle the training and onboarding process.

The Data

The admin grants the manager the privileges to create a team. The manager creates a team in Google Teams. He uploads the CSV file containing contacts and converts it to Google Sheets so that every member of the team can see the file.


The manager grants edit access to the five team members who are cold calling so that they can indicate on the Google Sheets whether they have pitched to each prospect and the response they received.

The two team members who are in charge of training and onboarding only get comment access. They do not need to add any information about the calling process.

Each member can see who has been contacted in real time and the manager can tell how far the sales team has progressed in vetting and recommending new retailers for onboarding.

Using Google Apps Script, the information can be further processed to create different files for those retailers in onboarding, success rates, and other parameters that help the team analyze performance and improve.  

Data safety

The team has all this great information at its disposal. However, the business needs to protect its trade secrets and customer data from predatory competitors and cybercriminals. Team Drives allows administrators to set restrictions against downloading, printing, or copying of sensitive data. Key to implementing the safety requirements is the admin.


The administrator manages everything about the Team Drives including:

  • Editing memberships

  • Changing user roles and permissions

  • Restoring deleted content

  • Picking who can create team drives

  • Sharing files outside the team

  • Setting file permissions and restrictions

The admin can also review the action log and see file activities that have been performed by users.

An employee might leave, and the admin needs to revoke their access and onboard a replacement into the team. New team members can see the activity and study the files to know how the team works. The admin can also ease in new staff in by increasing their privileges gradually as they become more familiar with their roles.

Customizable protections

Files in Team Drives are protected by G Suite’s DLP (Data Loss Protection).  Admins can customize their parameters for control. For example, admins can decide that no files with sensitive HR data like social security numbers can be shared outside of the domain.


G Suite has various suggestions on the type of information to include, but given the diverse nature of businesses, you may prefer to customize your own.

One feature that helps prevent data loss is the ability to auto scan and identify restricted information in files before they are sent. Optical Character Recognition will identify the types of information that are restricted and the admin will get a notification. The sender can also get a chance to correct the message being sent in case it was inadvertent.

This proactive prevention is also applicable using the vault. The admin can set data deletion and retention controls so that users do not endanger critical information.  

Final Words

Team Drives offer a great collaborative platform without compromising data security. By deeply studying the features and understanding their needs, organizations can collaborate efficiently and secure their data.


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(screenshots are taken from

Nisha Rajpurohit