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I’ve read the differences between Team Drive and My Drive, and they seem very similar, with the former having more limitations. If I share my My Drive with my team, it feels like they are exactly the same, only with fewer limitations.

Am I missing something? Why would anyone choose a Team Drive if it’s more complicated to set up and has more limitations?


Google's page about Team Drive is pretty cryptic too:

Not sure whether to use My Drive or Team Drives?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the files of interest to most or all members of a particular project team?
  • Do the files share a consistent theme?

If you answered "yes" to both questions, creating a new Team Drive is a good idea. If the files are for a variety of projects, create multiple Team Drives.

Obviously the files are related since they are in the same folder. This doesn't help me choose between a shared folder on My Drive vs. Team Drive.

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The biggest differentiation to consider is who is the “owner” of the folder/files.

If all shared data should still be accessible after you leave your organization, use a Team Drive. If you use My Drive, and you forget to transfer ownership of your documents before you leave, all your documents (even the shared ones) might be deleted when you leave the organization (e.g. if the administrators choose to delete your account instead of suspending it).

This makes sense since if you use a “team” drive, you’re now saying the data is owned by a team rather than an individual.

Having said that, there are some key limitations of Team Drive you should consider:

  • It may be harder to backup your files. Although you could sync using Drive File Stream.
  • All users have the same viewing rights. You can’t hide files or folders like you can in My Drive (e.g. by sharing it only with some people). If you need this feature, consider creating a second “Private” team folder.

Note: This is actually mentioned on Google's page about Team Drive:

Unlike files in My Drive, files in a Team Drive belong to the team instead of an individual. Even if members leave, the files stay exactly where they are so your team can continue to share information and get work done. [Emphasis added]

It's just not stressed enough, so you could easily miss this critical part when deciding which one to use. Especially because the bulleted list that immediately follows it is so cryptic, and doesn't re-emphasize this point.

Resources:

  • "when you leave the organization" isn't precise as the account could be suspended instead of deleted. – Rubén Jan 1 at 21:33
  • @ruben, are you saying the files are still accessible if the account is suspended, but are inaccessible if the account is deleted? – Senseful Jan 1 at 21:35
  • I'm saying that If the account is suspended the files aren't deleted. This is on the G Suite Help Articles. By the way, the G Suite admin could change the owner of files from regular and suspended accounts. – Rubén Jan 1 at 21:37
  • @Ruben: ahh makes sense, found the article. Updated to mention that they would only be deleted/inaccessible if the admin decides to delete instead of suspend. I still think it’s a safer to recommend a Team Drive in this case cause you have no guarantees that an admin will choose to suspend your account instead of deleting it. – Senseful Jan 1 at 21:44
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    I agree, for team projects and important organization document it's better to use a team drive than my unit, specially for large organizations. – Rubén Jan 1 at 21:45

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