Troubleshoot shared drives for your users

This article is for Google Workspace administrators. If you use shared drives for work or school, go to Troubleshoot issues with shared drives.

As an administrator, you can help your organization’s users with shared drive creation, access, and sharing issues.

First, have them review Troubleshoot issues with shared drives, where many common issues are addressed. If those solutions don’t help, try the solutions in this article.

Issues creating or managing shared drives

Issues accessing files and folders in shared drives

Issues moving folders into or out of shared drives


Issues creating or managing shared drives

User can’t create shared drives

If a user can’t create shared drives, their license might not support shared drives or that option might be turned off for their organizational unit and not overridden by a configuration group. To check their status:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

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

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" Directoryand thenUsers.
  3. Locate your user in the list. If you have many users, click Add a filter and choose a way to narrow the list, such as by their email address.
  4. Click the user’s name.
  5. Find the Licenses section and confirm that their license is one of the following:

    Supported editions for this feature: Business Standard and Business Plus; Enterprise; Education Fundamentals, Education Standard, Teaching and Learning Upgrade, and Education Plus; Nonprofits; G Suite Business; Essentials.  Compare your edition

    If their license doesn't support shared drives, you can change their license. Otherwise, go on to the next step.

  6. Make a note of the organizational unit listed under their name.
  7. At the left, click Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenDrive and Docs.
  8. Click Sharing settingsand thenShared drive creation.
  9. Under Drive and Docs, click the user’s organizational unit.

    If the first box is checked, their organizational unit isn’t allowed to create shared drives.

  10. If the user should be able to create shared drives, consider how best to give them permission:
    • If everyone in their organizational unit should be able to create shared drives, uncheck the first box and click Save or Override.
    • If not everyone in their organizational unit should be able to create shared drives, find or create a configuration group that has permission to create shared drives and add the user to the group.

A shared drive has no manager

If a shared drive has no manager, some shared drive actions, such as adding and removing members, are only possible in the admin console. This situation can reduce the effectiveness of the shared drive. To address this issue, make someone a manager or add a new person as a manager:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

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

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenDrive and Docs.
  3. Click Manage shared drives.
  4. Point to the shared drive and click Manage members.
  5. Identify a member who should be a manager, update their access level, and click Save. If no current members should have manager access, add a user and give them manager access. For details, see Manage shared drives as an admin.

A shared drive has no members

If a shared drive has no members, access to files and folders in the shared drive is limited to users who the items were shared with directly. This situation minimizes the ability of users to collaborate on files in the shared drive. To address this issue, add at least one member:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

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

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenDrive and Docs.
  3. Click Manage shared drives.
  4. Point to the shared drive and click Manage members.
  5. Add at least one member, either a user or a group. If you give one user Manager access, they can add other users and groups as members. Otherwise, you must add the users and groups who should have access to all the files. For details, see Manage shared drives as an admin.

Issues accessing files and folders in shared drives

User can’t access a file in shared drives after it was moved

To access a file in a shared drive, the user must be a member of the shared drive, have the file shared with them directly, or have the folder that contains the file shared with them directly.

  • If the user should have access to that file and all other files and folders in the shared drive, make the user a member of the shared drive.
  • If the user only needs access to the one file or folder, ask a manager of the shared drive to share the file with the user.

User can’t comment on or edit a file in a shared drive

  1. Ask them to confirm that they have at least Commenter privileges in the shared drive.
  2. Confirm that their license supports shared drives (for supported editions, see Set up shared drives for your organization). If not, the user can only view files unless the file is shared with them directly. To find what license they have:
    1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

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

    2. In the Admin console, go to Menu ""and then"" Directoryand thenUsers.
    3. Locate your user in the list. If you have many users, click Add a filter and choose a way to narrow the list, such as by their email address.
    4. Click the user’s name.
    5. Click Licenses.

For details on shared drive access, see Access for users with licenses that don’t support shared drives.

User can’t access a shared drive, even though they’re a member

As an administrator, you have different ways to prevent access to files based on their content or the person trying to access them. These policies override the sharing settings set for a shared drive or a file or folder in a shared drive. For example, if shared drive settings allow sharing with external users, but other policies don’t, then external users can’t access the files, even if they’re members.

Some policies that can prevent access to a shared drive or file in a shared drive include the following:

  1. Your Drive sharing settings might prevent access to a shared drive. If the user should have access, you might be able to assign the shared drive to an organizational unit where sharing with them is allowed.
  2. If you set trust rules, they can prevent access to a shared drive.
  3. If you set DLP rules, they can prevent access to a specific file.

Issues moving folders into or out of shared drives

User can’t move a folder into a shared drive

Only users assigned an administrator role can move folders into and out of shared drives. 

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