Files that appear in Google Drive’s Shared with me section don’t take up space in your Google Account storage because you don’t own those files.

But the less-awesome flipside to that storage-capacity benefit is that the owner of those files could, at any time without any notice or warning… remove your access to the file, delete the file, or delete their Google Account and basically leave you without access to files that they shared with you… Files you may need, have paid for, expected to have long-term access to.

What’s the solution? When you’re finished collaborating with someone who owns (a) file(s), make your own final copy(ies)! (Bonus points: make the file name extra clear to avoid confusion between versions/copies!)

  • Log this “copying” step as part of your offboarding process with contractors who use their own accounts for file creation.
  • Periodically use Drive’s Advanced Search to comb for newer docs shared with you that you may not have held a copy of.

Even if you own a folder that someone else is contributing to, when that collaborator drops files into it, they are the owner of those files! This means that the storage space is taken up on their end, and the ownership is not on your end.

Protect Yo’Self and make sure you own files that are yours, or you make copies if you’d be sad to lose those files.

Note that you the owner can transfer ownership to you if you are both using Gmail OR if you are both in the same company’s Google Workspace.

However, you can’t transfer ownership from Gmail to Workspace, Workspace to Gmail OR Workspace A to Workspace B.

I talk about this exact scenario inside the Get Productive with G Suite Lesson called Juggling Multiple Google Accounts *and* Purging. If you’re not already a student of Get Productive, it’s an easy $37 purchase and you and your productivity will love me for it.