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I have a lot of old project folders, some from associates with whom I no longer work. (I'm transferring ownership of these folders to people still affiliated with the group.)

If I were to remove someone from a shared folder, do they take their files with them? If so, from an archival standpoint, is the best course of action to duplicate all such files so that they are owned by the same person and then transfer the lot en masse to the next owner? Will the duplicated files store revision history? Or is that the cost of transferring files?

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If I were to remove someone from a shared folder, do they take their files with them?

No. The files will remain in the folder, but they will also remain to be owned by the user who left. That user will not see the folder in their Google Drive, but they will be able to find the files by using is:unorganized search (which is meant precisely for finding such orphaned file). From those search results, they will be able to edit or delete the files. And when the file owner deletes a file, it's gone for everyone.

To avoid potential file deletion, you want to make sure every file you need is owned by you (or someone who remains in the company). This can be achieved if either

  1. The departing worker transfers file ownership to you.
  2. You make own copy of the file.

The first version is preferable, as it preserves the revision history; making a copy of a file does not.

By the way, transfering ownership of a folder does not imply the same for the files it contains. It's best to think of Google Drive folders as labels: they are convenient for organizing things, but do not really "contain" them.

  • Source: I tested this using two Google accounts. – user135384 Dec 24 '16 at 21:20
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If I were to remove someone from a shared folder, do they take their files with them? If so, from an archival standpoint, is the best course of action to duplicate all such files so that they are owned by the same person and then transfer the lot en masse to the next owner?

Google Drive folders doesn't work the same way as OS (Windows, Mac OS, etc.) folders. Removing someone from a shared folder will not remove their files from the folder but the owner could change the file sharing settings or even they could delete them.

Will the duplicated files store revision history? Or is that the cost of transferring files?

If you copy a file on Google Drive, only the current revision will be copied, old revisions and comments will not included in the copy but transferring the file ownership will keep the revision history and comments.

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