Smart Sharing Options in Google Drive


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The need to communicate and collaborate with colleagues at Notre Dame has become increasingly important—especially with the introduction of a hybrid work environment. Since departmental staff members are not necessarily in the office at the same time, it has resulted in some changes in the ways people work with each other.

When it comes to collaboration, Google Drive offers convenient and simple file sharing and collaborative work options. However, it is important to be aware of the sharing options so documents are shared in a secure and responsible way.

There are three types of sharing options in Google Drive:

  • Individuals
  • Groups
  • Anyone at the University

Before sharing any type of document, ask yourself, “Who needs access for review or collaboration?” A general guideline to follow is to give access to only those who need it.

By choosing to share more broadly—such as with anyone at the University— information in those documents may be at risk of being exposed to individuals outside of the intended audience.

The sensitivity of the information is another factor to take into account when sharing documents. This can include FERPA data, personal health or employment information. If your documents contain this type of information, it is especially important to restrict access. Highly sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and driver’s license numbers as part of an approved business process must be stored in an HSI Protected Shared Drive.

Another way documents in Google Drive can unknowingly be exposed is if they are created within folders with sharing settings that are already established. For example, if an entire folder is allowed to be shared with the University, those settings will automatically apply to all documents within that folder.

  • When choosing sharing options for a document, follow these best practices to ensure the security of personal and work documents in Google Drive:
  • Only share documents with people who require access
  • Periodically review file sharing settings for folders containing sensitive information
  • Do not store passwords in Google Drive. There are password management tools that are made for that purpose.
  • If individuals or groups need temporary access to a document or folder in My Drive, share it with them and set an expiration date. Details are available in this Google Workspace Learning Center article
  • Prevent editors from accidentally sharing a document beyond those who have access to it by restricting sharing options. More information is available in this Google Workspace Learning Center article.
  • For documents that are meant to be shared with members of your department, request a Department Use Only Shared Drive to prevent sharing outside of the group. Details are available in this knowledge article.

With a better understanding of Google Drive sharing options, you can be confident that you are sharing folders and documents with colleagues securely and responsibly.

Originally published by Cassie McCan at on December 14, 2021.