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Drive log events

Security investigation tool

Supported editions for the Drive log events data source in the investigation tool:
Enterprise Plus, Education Plus

As your organization's administrator, you can use the security investigation tool to run searches related to Drive log events, and to take action based on search results. From the investigation tool, you can view a record of actions to see your organization's user activity in Drive. Drive log events include content your users create in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and other Google Workspace apps, and content that your users upload to Drive, such as PDFs and Microsoft Word files. 

You can use the Activity API to programmatically access basic reports data. If your Google Workspace edition supports it, you can use a new Reports API to access advanced Google Workspace reports data.

Important:

  • Not all activities in Drive are logged. For a list of what’s included in the log, on this page see Logged and unlogged events.
  • For details on when data becomes available and how long it's retained, go to Data retention and lag times
  • Drive audit events are logged only for files owned by users with supported editions. 

Your access to the security investigation tool

  • Supported editions for the security investigation tool include Enterprise Plus, Education Standard, Education Plus, and Enterprise Essentials Plus.
  • Admins with Cloud Identity Premium, Frontline Standard, Enterprise Standard, and Education Standard can also use the investigation tool for a subset of data sources.
  • Your ability to run a search in the investigation tool depends on your Google edition, your administrative privileges, and the data source. If you're unable to run a search in the investigation tool for a specific data source, you can use the audit and investigation page instead. For more information, go to Improved audit and investigation experience.
  • You can run a search in the investigation tool on all users, regardless of the Google edition they have.

Run a search for Drive log events

To run a search in the investigation tool, first choose a data source. You then need to choose one or more conditions for your search. For each condition, choose an attribute, an operator, and a value

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. Click Data source and select Drive log events.
  3. Click Add Condition.
    Tip: You can include one or more conditions in your search or customize your search with nested queries. For details, go to Customize your search with nested queries.
  4. Click Attributeand thenselect an option.
    For a complete list of attributes, go to the Attribute descriptions section (later on this page).
  5. Click Containsand thenselect an operator.
  6. Enter a value or select a value from the list.
  7. (Optional) To add more search conditions, repeat steps 4–7.
  8. Click Search.
    You can review the search results from the investigation tool in a table at the bottom of the page.
  9. (Optional) To save your investigation, click Saveand thenenter a title and descriptionand thenclick Save.

Notes

  • In the Condition builder tab, filters are represented as conditions with AND/OR operators. You can also use the Filter tab to include simple parameter and value pairs to filter the search results.
  • If you gave a user a new name, you will not see query results with the user's old name. For example, if you rename OldName@example.com to NewName@example.com, you will not see results for events related to OldName@example.com.

Attribute descriptions

For this data source, you can use the following attributes when searching log event data:

Note:

  • The following list is not exhaustive and is subject to change. For more details about Drive log events, go to Drive Audit Activity Events on the Google Workspace Admin SDK website.
  • Most actions are logged immediately. However, Preview events in the Drive viewer can be delayed 12 hours or more from the time of the event.
Attribute Description
Actor Email address of the user who performed the action. Users external to the domain are shown as anonymous, except when they view or edit a document explicitly shared with them (as an individual or as part of a specific group)
Actor group name

Group name of the actor. For more information, go to Filtering results by Google Group.

To add a group to your filtering groups allowlist:

  1. Select Actor group name.
  2. Click Filtering groups.
    The Filtering groups page displays.
  3. Click Add Groups.
  4. Search for a group by entering the first few characters of its name or email address. When you see the group you want, select it.
  5. (Optional) To add another group, search for and select the group.
  6. When you finish selecting groups, click Add.
  7. (Optional) To remove a group, click Remove group .
  8. Click Save.
Actor organizational unit Organizational unit of the actor
Audience Target domain in case the audit log is for a visibility change
Billable (Essentials edition only) Whether the user action is a chargeable activity
Date

Date and time the event occurred (displayed in your browser's default time zone)

Note: Most events are logged when they’re complete. Sometimes large uploads can take a while to log.

Document ID

Unique Drive item identifier associated with the activity, as stored in the URL link for the file

Document type File format that the activity involves, such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, JPEG, PDF, PNG, MP4, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, txt, HTML, MPEG audio, QuickTime video, folder, or shared drives
Domain The domain where the action occurred
Encrypted Whether the file is client-side encrypted
Event name

User-initiated events such as View, Rename, Create, Edit, PrintDelete, Upload, and Download.

Most actions are logged immediately. However, Print events in the Drive viewer can be delayed 12 hours or more from the time of the event. Files that are automatically deleted by Google Drive or emptied from Trash are logged. Other events, such as uploading a file, are logged once they’re complete.

IP address

Address from where the user performed the activity. This might reflect the user's physical location, but it can be something else like a proxy server or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) address.

No IP addresses are logged for events:

  • Started by users external to the domain
  • From services that don't log the IP address in their requests
  • Relating to renaming or deleting a shared drive
New publish visibility value New visibility of the document
New value New value of the changed setting
New value IDs New value of the label field
Old publish visibility value Old visibility of the document if the activity is a visibility change
Old value Old value of the changed setting
Old value IDs Old value of the label field
Owner

User who owns the file.

Prior visibility Previous visibility of the document in case visibility is changed
Shared drive ID The Drive ID of the shared drive containing the file. If the file is not in a shared drive, this field isn't populated.
Target User whose access is changed
Title Title of the document
Visibility Visibility of the Drive item associated with the activity
Visibility change Visibility of the Drive item before the activity
Visitor Yes means that the activity is by a non-Google user. No means that the activity is by a Google user. Learn more about sharing documents with visitors.

View files shared outside of a domain

To see files that are shared with users outside of a domain:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. Click Data sourceand thenselect Drive log events.
  3. Click Add Condition.
  4. Click Attributeand thenselect Visibility.
  5. Click Containsand thenselect Is.
  6. Click Visibilityand thenselect Shared externally.
  7. Click Search.
    You can review the search results from the investigation tool in a table at the bottom of the page.

If you turn off external sharing and a user shares a resource with a group that allows external users, data is marked Shared externally in the log. However, external users in the group can’t access the shared resource. And, you’ll see this even if the group doesn’t have any external users.

Logged and unlogged events

Delete

Files that are automatically deleted by Google Drive or emptied from Trash are logged.

Copy

When a file is copied, Create and Copy events are logged for the new file, and a Source Copy event is logged for the original file.

When a user outside of your organization copies a file to an external location, your organization doesn’t log the Create and Copy events because the new file is external. However, your logs have the Source Copy event on the original file with a Copy Type of External. To monitor when data is copied out of your organization, you can review Source Copy events that have an External copy type.

Print

Print events aren't recorded when a user prints a filed opened in a Google file formats (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms).

When printing files with the Drive app from an Apple iPhone and iPad or Android device, Print events might be logged as Download events.

Download

Most downloads are logged, including when files are copied between Drive and a local device using Google Drive for desktop.

Some View actions are logged as downloads:

  • Previewing a file in the Drive app on a mobile device is logged as a Download event.
  • Previewing a file, such as a PDF, that can’t be directly opened in Google Docs or other Google app is logged as a Download event.

Downloads from the following sources are not logged:

  • Google Takeout downloads (search Takeout log events instead)
  • Downloads to offline browser caches
  • Photos that are synced to, downloaded from, or viewed through Google Photos
  • Drive items that are emailed as attachments and downloaded through the recipient's email client

View

  • Viewing files using the /htmlview, /embed, /revisions, and other special URLs are logged as View events.

Events that involve external domains

Some events involve users, shared folders, or shared drives outside your organization, such as when a user in your organization shares a file with an external user. Both organizations log an event when it changes the ownership of the item from one organization to another.

Examples of events logged by both:

  • A Drive item owned by a user in your organization is moved to an external shared drive.
  • A Drive item owned by a user outside of your organization is moved to a shared drive owned by your organization.
  • A user copies a file into or out of your organization. The receiving organization logs the copied file’s name, not the original file name.

Examples of events logged by your organization but not logged by the external domain:

  • A Drive item owned by a user in your organization is shared with an external user.
  • A Drive item owned by a user in your organization is shared with a group that allows external users, even if no external users are part of the group.
  • An external user views, edits, downloads, prints, or deletes a Drive item owned by your organization.
  • An external user uploads a file to a shared drive owned by your organization.

Events logged by the external domain but not by your organization are the reverse of the previous section.

Anonymous and external users

For anonymous users (users who are not signed in to a Google Account), edits are logged but views and downloads are not. 

Actions performed by users external to the domain are shown as anonymous except when the item is explicitly shared with them (as an individual or as part of a specific group). 

Anonymous and external access can be restricted by Admins by setting organization sharing policies or Trust Rule policies.

Drive for desktop

When files are copied between Drive and a local device using Google Drive for desktop, Download events are logged.

Take action based on search results

After you run a search in the investigation tool, you can act on your search results. For example, you can run a search based on Gmail log events, and then use the investigation tool to delete specific messages, send messages to quarantine, or send messages to users' inboxes. For more details about actions in the investigation tool, go to Take action based on search results.

Create activity rules & set up alerts

To help prevent, detect, and remediate security issues efficiently, you can automate actions in the investigation tool and set up alerts by creating activity rules. To set up a rule, set up conditions for the rule, and then specify what actions to perform when the conditions are met. For details and instructions, go to Create and manage activity rules.

Manage your investigations

Expand all  |  Collapse all & go to top

View your list of investigations

To view a list of the investigations that you own and that were shared with you, click View investigations. The investigation list includes the names, descriptions, and owners of the investigations, and the date last modified. 

From this list, you can take action on any investigations that you own—for example, to delete an investigation. Check the box for an investigation, and then click Actions.

Note: Directly above your list of investigations, under Quick access, you can view recently saved investigations.

Configure settings for your investigations

As a super administrator, click Settings to :

  • Change the time zone for your investigations. The time zone applies to search conditions and results.
  • Turn on or off Require reviewer. For more details, go to Require reviewers for bulk actions.
  • Turn on or off View content. This setting allows admins with the appropriate privileges to view content.
  • Turn on or off Enable action justification.

For instructions and details, go to Configure settings for your investigations.

Manage columns in your search results

You can control which data columns appear in your search results. 

  1. At the top-right of the search results table, click Manage columns.
  2. (Optional) To remove current columns, click Remove item.
  3. (Optional) To add columns, next to Add new column, click the Down arrowand select the data column.
    Repeat as needed.
  4. (Optional) To change the order of the columns, drag the column name.
  5. Click Save.
Export data from search results

You can export search results in the investigation tool to Google Sheets or to a CSV file. For instructions, see Export search results.

Share, delete, and duplicate investigations

To save your search criteria or share it with others, you can create and save an investigation, and then share, duplicate, or delete it.

For details, go to Save, share, delete, and duplicate investigations.

When and how long is data available?

For more information about data sources, go to Data retention and lag times.

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