Congratulations! Your small business is growing, and you’re ready to take it to the next level by migrating from individual Gmail accounts to a Google Workspace account. This will undoubtedly streamline your business operations and enhance your team’s collaboration.
However, one key challenge you might be facing is how to transfer your team’s Google Drive files from the old Gmail accounts to your new Workspace. As it currently stands, Google Drive does not directly support transferring ownership between different domains (from @gmail.com to @yourcompany.com).
This presents a unique problem, especially if your business relies heavily on shared documents, data on Google Sheets, Slides for presentations, or any other Drive-stored files. The need to maintain access to these essential files is paramount as you transition into your Workspace account. Here’s the good news: we have a practical solution for you.
The Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide
We’re going to navigate this issue by creating a shared folder in each old account, moving all the necessary files into this folder, and then copying these files into the new Workspace account. By creating copies, the Workspace account becomes the owner of the new files. Here’s how to do it:
- Log into each Old Gmail Account: Have each team member sign into their respective Gmail accounts where the files are currently stored.
- Create a New Folder: Each team member should create a new folder in their Google Drive. They can do this by right-clicking within the Drive, selecting “New”, and then “Folder”. They should give the folder a recognizable name.
- Share the New Folder: Each team member should then share this new folder with your Workspace account. They can do this by right-clicking on the new folder, selecting “Share”, and typing in the email address of your Workspace account.
- Move all Files to the Shared Folder: Each team member should then move all the files they want to migrate into the new shared folder.
- Log into your Workspace Account: Now, you should log into your new Workspace account. Here, you’ll see the folders that have been shared from each of your team members’ accounts.
- Create a New Folder for each Team Member: In your Workspace account, create a new folder for each team member. This is where you’ll store the copied files from each person.
- Make Copies of Files in each Shared Folder: Go into each shared folder, select all files, right-click, and select “Make a copy”. The copies of the files will appear in the same folder.
- Move all Copies to their Respective New Folders: Sort the list by file name. As all the copies have “Copy of” added to the start of their names, they’ll be grouped together. Select all copies and move them to the new folder you created for each team member.
And you’re done! Your new Workspace account now holds all your important files. While these are copies, they still contain all the crucial content from your team’s old Gmail accounts. If those old accounts ever get deleted, your files will still be safe and accessible in your Workspace account. The only minor downside is that each file name will begin with “Copy of”. If you’d like, you can rename these files manually.
An Advanced Alternative: Using Google Drive for desktop
For those comfortable with a slightly more tech-savvy approach, and especially if you’re dealing with a large number of PDFs or image files, there’s an alternative method to consider. By using Google Drive’s PC or Mac app to sync your files locally, you can avoid the “Copy of” file naming that comes with the method we’ve described above. Note, however, that this method won’t work for Google Sheets, Docs, Slides, Forms, My Maps, or Drawings as these formats need to stay within the Google ecosystem to function correctly. Let’s dive in:
- Install Google Drive for desktop: Download and install Google Drive for desktop on your PC or Mac. This allows your Google Drive to behave like a local folder on your computer.
- Sync Old Account: Log in to the Google Drive app with the old account. Once signed in, you can select the folders you want to sync to your computer. The selected files and folders will download onto your local system. Remember to ensure you have enough storage space on your local drive for this data.
- Create a Local Backup: After syncing, locate the Google Drive folder on your PC or Mac (it should be in your file directory). You can then duplicate these files locally using File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac), essentially creating a backup. This step also conveniently avoids the “Copy of” naming.
- Sync New Account: Now, sign out of the old account on your Google Drive desktop app. Sign in to the app with the new Workspace account, and ensure you set the folder where you’d like your files to be uploaded in your Google Drive settings.
- Upload Backup Files: Drag the duplicated files (your local backup) into the Google Drive folder of the new account on your PC or Mac. The app will automatically start syncing these files to the cloud, effectively transferring them to your new Workspace account.
- Check Your New Workspace Account: To make sure everything worked correctly, sign into your new Workspace account on the web. Here, you should see all the files you transferred.
This method, while more advanced, is a great solution for bulk file transfers of formats like PDFs and images. It helps maintain your original file naming and mimics a more traditional file copy-paste method many are familiar with. However, always remember to double-check your files have successfully transferred and consider maintaining your local backup until you’re certain the migration has gone smoothly.
Additional Considerations: Ensuring a Smooth Transition
While the steps we’ve laid out will help you migrate your files successfully, it’s important to take note of a few additional factors. These points will ensure a smooth transition and help avoid any unexpected complications:
- Re-establish Collaboration Rights: After copying the files, sharing and collaboration permissions from the original files will not automatically carry over. If the original files were shared with other individuals, you’ll need to set up these permissions again for each file in your new Workspace account.
- Timing of Large File Transfers: If your business has a significant amount of data to transfer, this process could take some time. Uploading large amounts of data can also temporarily slow down your internet speed. Consider planning these transfers during off-peak hours to minimize disruptions.
- Backup is Essential: Always have a backup of your files before initiating the migration process. This could be a local backup on your computer or an additional copy in the cloud. This step ensures you won’t lose any crucial data if something goes wrong during the migration.
- Don’t Rush to Delete Old Accounts: During the transition period, it’s advisable to keep the old Gmail accounts active. Once all users have fully transitioned to the Workspace account and all files have been successfully transferred and checked, you can consider closing down the old accounts.
Next Steps: Transferring Ownership Within Your New Workspace
Once you’ve successfully migrated all your files to your new Workspace account, you might find that you need to transfer file ownership among your team members within your new organization.
Managing file ownership is an important aspect of Google Workspace, helping to ensure that the right people have control over the right documents. This process becomes even more crucial as your organization grows and roles or responsibilities evolve.
We’ve prepared another comprehensive guide to help you navigate this process smoothly. Check out our article, Transferring File Ownership within Google Workspace, to learn more about managing files within your new collaborative space effectively.
Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on making the most of your Google Workspace account. Remember, every step you take in organizing your digital space is a step towards greater efficiency and productivity in your business operations. Happy migrating!