In our company we have a shared folder which has a lot of resources in that the whole team accesses. Somehow one of the sub folders was "Removed" and I can not work out how to recover the affected items.

I have also re-created this:

  1. Create a folder on first account, add any contents too it
  2. Share this folder with second account
  3. Log in as second account, and use "Add to My Drive". The folder will now be in both accounts
  4. As the second account, either on the folder or any of its contents, right click and select "Remove"
  5. Item(s) are removed for both accounts

At this point my expectation is for the affected items to be in either of the affected accounts Bins. However I can not see them in either bin.

I have also tried the Restore Data function as listed here, with no success. https://webapps.stackexchange.com/a/35971

Considering this is so easily repeatable I am surprised this question has not been asked before (as far as I can find).

Is there a method to restore files in this instance?


2 Answers 2


If a folder editor removes files from the folder, if those files doesn't belong to any other folder they become "orphan" files. See How to view orphans in Google Drive

Also the folder activity panel should include a link to the removed files.

The way to restore the files is by adding the files again to the corresponding folder either by using the Google Drive web UI or programmatically by using the Google Drive API or a third-party application. AFAIK this could not be done from the G Suite Admin Console.

It's worth to mention that G Suite for Business and above accounts could use Shared Units (formerly Team Drives). They have more "roles" to handle files and folders. They could help to have a better control of files.


If you do not own an item in a shared folder and you deleted it (or rather, removed it from the folder), it will not be in your Trash. In fact, you just removed your access to it—even though everybody else can still completely access it. They will be able to access it with the URL (if they saved the URL), or by clicking on the file name in the Activity pane. The file still exists in the owner's Google account, but it is "orphaned", i.e. it does not belong in any folder in their account, but it still takes up storage space. The owner will be able to find their orphaned files by going to https://drive.google.com/drive/search?q=is:unorganized , that is, by searching "is:unorganized". Or, they could just search for the file name if they remember it (or find it in the Activity pane).

It is possible to restore the item back to the folder if a collaborator or the owner adds it to their Drive (by clicking the "add to Drive" icon), then moves it back to the folder.

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