Here are some questions to consider before designing your One Drive Shared Library or Google Shared Drive folder structure:

  • Who moves, owns, and maintains the content?
  • What root level folders make sense for your department or program?
  • Are different levels of access needed for users, or are groups appropriate?
  • Are there any particular security needs around any of your content?

Folder Structure Best Practices

Understanding folder permissions and collaboration features will help you configure your folder structure so your department or program can get the most out of cloud storage. Google and Microsoft handle this differently. Refer to articles about Google Shared Drives, Microsoft Shared Libraries, and other articles in our knowledge base for additional information.

Be careful of who you invite at the root/top level.

User access flows down to subfolders and documents. Share documents with non-department members in separate drives/libraries or folders, not in the root/top level.

Ensure naming conventions of folder and files are clear.

Clear, consistent naming conventions will help you and your department stay oriented in the folder structure and will help with searching for content. For example, being invited to a folder titled "Undergraduate Planning - Academic Affairs" is more explanative than the title "Academic Affairs."

Keep the structure as flat as possible.

A quick rule of thumb is to use less than five levels of folders within your structure. A flat folder structure will be more efficient for organizing your content, and less frustrating to navigate through.

Create separate folders for external collaboration.

These can be subfolders within a Shared Drive/Library or they can be separate Shared Drives/Libraries, depending on the needs of your department. Be sure to label all public/external folders appropriately, so your department understands that content in those folders will be viewed by non-departmental staff, faculty, and students.

Adapted from: