Saving Work That's Been Shared With You Via Google Drive

If you have asked students to submit content to you by sharing files from their own Google accounts, or by placing them into folders you provide in your personal Google Drive space, then you may be in danger of losing access to that material once the student's account is removed from the College's systems after they graduate! Similarly, if a collaborator shares Google Drive content with you, you may lose access to that content if you don't take steps to preserve your access to it.

You can tell if something is in danger of disappearing by looking at the "Owner" listing of any files you're worried about within Google Drive. If that owner is not you, you could lose access!

To solve this, you have several options:

  1. Download anything you are worried about to your own computer.  Download files from the website and don't use the Google Drive application. By downloading the files to your computer, you break the link between the student "owner" of the material and your copy, safely saving them on your own computer. If you are downloading to a college-owned computer, they should then also be backed up by the College's Crashplan backup system, too. 

  2. Make a copy of the shared files to your personal Google Drive. Search Google Drive for “from:”. Select all the documents you wish to save, and right-click (or control-click) on them to choose Make a Copy. This will copy the selected files permanently to your Google account and make you the “Owner” of the copy.

  3. Move the files in question to a Google Shared Drive, such as one managed by your department. Doing this ensures that the ownership of the file is Swarthmore College. These drive spaces will have a prefix on the name in square brackets, like [BIOL] or [ECON], or [PSYC] and the owner of the files and folders in that Google Drive space will be all the same, most likely Swarthmore College, or the name of your lab. Similarly, if you have a Google Drive space set up for your lab that's outside your personal Drive space, you can have students put the content in a folder you've shared there.

  4. If you use Moodle, having students upload work to your Moodle course will continue to be a good option, but those courses are organized on a semesterly basis. You can still download a backup of your course yourself. Instructions are here: How do I export or backup a course from Moodle?

Setting up Google Drive spaces for your lab/research group

If you don't already have a research lab Google Drive space, and you can fill out the Google Shared Drive folder request form.  If you regularly collect digital files from students, we strongly recommend that you have a research space set up. It's not just good for this purpose, but can be a great resource for sharing critical files with your lab group in a common place, without having to send emails constantly!

If you're worried about losing any student or collaborator work that has been shared with you via Google, please don't hesitate to contact the Help Desk and we'll be happy to help you figure it out!

Ways you can contact ITS or find information:

ITS Support Portal:
Phone: x4357 (HELP) or 610-328-8513
Check out our remote resources at
Check our homepage at