What is Shared Drive?

Shared Drive is Google’s built-in system to handle centrally managed storage. These are storage spaces managed by the College that allows departments, long-term projects, research labs, and special interest groups to have a space to store documents that will remain available to the members, even after the original creator of the documents leaves the college.

Why have a Shared Drive?

When a Swarthmore user leaves the college their account is deprovisioned, which includes the process of deleting files they created/own in Drive. However, files saved in a Shared Drive will not be deleted with the rest of that user’s documents. This allows departments, projects, and groups to gather and share relevant documents without worrying about those documents being deleted when members leave.

How does Shared Drive work?

Shared Drive is a college-managed library that is intended to be used for departmental documents and longer-term projects, research/labs, and special interest groups where members may change but the documents need to remain. Since Shared Drive is built into Google Drive, documents within these Drives will function just like documents saved within your personal Swarthmore Drive space. You will be able to use all of the same functions available to you for files and folders and you will not need to install any additional extensions or be required to use a specific browser.

Where are Shared Drives located?

If you have Shared Drives you will find them in the left-hand navigation list directly under your "My Drive". You can click the arrow to the left to expand your list of Shared Drives in that navigation, or you can click on the Shared Drives text and open your list of Shared Drives in the main viewing space on Drive. If you are not currently a member of any Shared Drives, this may not appear in your left-hand navigation.

Moving from AODocs to Shared Drives

What is AODocs?

AODocs is the third-party system that the college currently uses to manage departmental folders. It is not a part of Google Drive but works from within Drive to help manage these libraries of documents. Full access to all of the functions available in AODocs requires the use of the Chrome web browser and the installation of the AODocs Smartbar extension. There is an additional extension that can be used to help edit non-Google files called the Universal File Opener (UFO) which can also be installed on Chrome.

Why switch from AODocs to Shared Drives?

When we originally moved the campus to a Google Workspace campus Shared Drive was not able to manage and safeguard files in the way we needed, so we looked for alternative services to fill that need - AODocs was the service we chose. Now, Shared Drive is able to perform the same file management functions that we need and it is already built into Google Drive. This means:

  • It does not cost anything extra to use
  • It does not require extensions to be installed to fully function
  • It does not require the use of a specific browser
  • It utilizes all of the same built-in file and folder functions that all other Drive documents already use - including an easy delete option

What happens if I already have an AODocs-managed library?

ITS will be reaching out to all groups that currently have an AODocs-managed library in January 2023 to talk about the migration process and verify permissions for your library. Because AODocs worked within Drive, the process will be straightforward. If you have shared individual files with users who are not part of your group or department, those permissions will stay the same after the migration. If you have shared links to files or folders, those links will also stay the same after the migration. The migration process will also maintain any shortcuts saved in your library folder structure.

What happens to the AODocs UFO extension?

The AODocs Universal File Opener (UFO) extension allows users to open and edit any non-Google files from within Drive and save the changes directly back to Drive. As we migrate off AODocs the UFO feature will also be going away. However, if you regularly need to work in non-Google files you can sync your Google Drive with various devices - including your desktop or laptop computer. Google Drive for Desktop can sync your Drive and Shared Drives with your desktop and will allow you to open non-Google files directly into their native application. You can also save documents from your desktop directly to folders in your Drive without using your browser. You do not need to have a Shared Drive to use this app - it is available for all Swarthmore users. For more information, you can check out Google's official documentation for Google Drive for Desktop. If you decide you would like to utilize this feature you can download Google Drive for Desktop from Google

How do I request a Shared Drive?

As of December 1, 2022, ITS is no longer creating new AODocs libraries, so all new centrally managed libraries will be created as Shared Drives. You can request a Shared Drive space by filling out this form on our ITS Support Portal (login required): https://support.swarthmore.edu/support/catalog/items/119. The libraries will be created with a department/group identifying set of initials in brackets and a short descriptive name for the function of the folder - for example: [ITS] Support Services, [OSE] Student Group Name, or [BIO] Research Project Name. You can provide this information on the request form.

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