My Drive vs. Shared Drives

Google Drive offers two primary storage options: My Drive and Shared Drives. Understanding when to use each can streamline collaboration and organization within teams and departments. This guide outlines the key differences between My Drive and Shared Drives and provides scenarios for when to use each effectively.

My Drive

My Drive is designed for individual users to store personal files and documents. It offers control over access and permissions, making it suitable for private or individual projects. In standard personal Google drives, content is owned by the account that created it. When the account goes away so do the files owned by that account, no matter where they are stored.

When to Use My Drive
  • For projects or files that are owned and managed solely by you.

Shared Drives

Shared Drives are intended for collaborative work within teams, departments, or units. They provide a centralized location for storing and sharing files among team members and protect against data loss when collaborators separate from the university.  

When to Use Shared Drives
  • For projects or initiatives involving multiple team members who need access to the same files and folders.
  • When collaboration requires ongoing access to shared resources, regardless of individual team members' status.
  • When it's essential to ensure continuity and preservation of files, even if team members leave or change roles.
  • For projects where ownership of files needs to be tied to the team or organization rather than individual users.

Key Considerations

Credits to UC Berkeley shared drive content. 
FAQ Individual Google Drive Shared Drives


The individual users who create the files and folders.

The department/unit/team that created the shared drive. 

Access and Permissions

Varied access to files and folders based on sharing permissions (e.g. viewing, commenting, editing).

Varied roles and levels of access (e.g. Manager, Content Manager, Editor, Viewer) are associated with different file and folder permissions (e.g. viewing, commenting, editing, sharing)


Individual files and folders must be shared individually.

Depending on their access to individual files, different people might see different files or folders inside a folder. It is possible to share at the folder level inside My Drive or even remove access to specific files or folders inside a folder that has been shared.

All files and folders are automatically accessible to all members of the shared drive.

All members of a Shared Drive see the same set of files/folders. It is possible to expand sharing at the file and subfolder levels with someone not in your Shared Drive for more granular permissions but it is not possible to remove access to any file or folder from a top-level member of the Shared Drive.

File Management

Best suited for individuals.

Best suited for multiple users who contribute, access, and manage files collectively.

Can I restore files?

Yes, if you created the file or folder.

Yes, if you have the role of Manager, Content Manager, or Contributor in the shared drive.

Can I move files?


From an individual Google Drive to a Shared Drive:

Yes, if you are a Manager, Content Manager, or Contributor of the shared drive and have editing permission.

Between Shared Drives:

Yes, if you are a Manager in both shared drives.

Default storage limits

20 GB

20 GB. If you need more than 20 GB and are reaching the limit, request more storage .

Inherited permissions

Permissions at the folder level are passed down to files created in the folder. However, this does not apply to ownership. Files within a folder can have different owners than the owner of the folder in which they reside. Permissions can also be removed from files or folders inside other folders that are shared.

Permissions set on a specific file or folder in My Drive will be retained when moved to a Shared Drive. However, inherited permissions from a parent folder will not be retained when moved.

Example: If you are not a member of the Shared Drive, but you are an Editor on a file or Folder moved to the Shared Drive, you will maintain access to the file after it moves to the drive.

If you have Editor access to a file or folder because of inherited permissions in My Drive and that file or subfolder is moved into a Shared Drive where you are not a member, and the parent folder is not moved, you will lose your inherited permissions.

How long do deleted files stay in the trash?

Files in the My Drive trash folder are permanently deleted after 30 days.

Each Shared Drive has its own trash. Only members with the role of Manager or Content Manager can delete files. After 30 days, all files/folders in the trash are permanently deleted. Members with the role of Manager, Content Manager, or Contributor can restore shared drive content from the trash.

Attaching a Google file to a Google Calendar invite

Navigate to any My Drive file from within a calendar invite using the Add attachment (paperclip) icon.

Navigate to any Shared Drive from within a calendar invite using the Add attachment (paperclip) icon.


See Also