How to Successfully Migrate Your File System Permissions to Google Team Drive

Your organization has decided to say goodbye to its on-premises services in favor of Google Team Drives. It’s a great decision, ensuring that IT no longer has to stress about the hassle of server maintenance, the unexpected costs that come with up-keep, and uptime worries. There’s little strain on your network, and important files will remain secure and easy to administrate.

Additionally, your teams will be thrilled. With Team Drives’ easy to use interface, becoming acquainted with the new platform will take barely any time at all. Collaboration will be easier thanks to Drives’ adaptable sharing capabilities and simple-to-navigate folder structures, and with the power of G Suite, users will be able to take full advantage of Google’s arsenal of tools and tricks. You’re looking at a new chapter in how your organization manages its files, and the prospect is exciting.

Naturally, everyone is champing at the bit to get started, so IT has to ensure everyone can adopt the solution as soon as possible. Simple, right?

The Problem:

IT is now tasked with migrating massive amounts of data to Team Drives, much of which is sensitive or stored in complicated file structures with equally complicated permissions. This may include migrating network file shares, Windows Servers, SharePoint deployments or other cloud systems. All of these systems and files are essential to the success of your organization, and disruption of their individual and group permissions could lead to chaos. The pressure rises more when you realize—as you quickly will—that the permissions structure of Team Drives doesn’t map exactly onto that of your servers, and translating one to the other might not seem immediately possible. Manually migrating nested groups, ACLs and user permissions before, during or after a migration is nothing short of agonizing and can ultimately be impossible if your team doesn’t have the right migration tools, and a carefully designed plan going in.

Due to the fact that permission structures are so different between on-premises servers and cloud solutions such as Team Drives, a given subdirectory, once migrated, will automatically inherit the permissions of its parent directory, rather than those explicitly set under the previous structure.

There are many different ways to accomplish mapping. Therefore, it is crucial to fully understand the permissions structure in Team Drives during the planning phase of a migration. Not all cloud solutions deal with mapping in the same way, and researching how Team Drives does so is essential, lest you find yourself trying to fix an issue you don’t understand.

The Resolution:

The auditing of permissions will prove all the easier if organizations build time into their planning stage for other logistical tasks. These include developing a migration strategy based on priorities, goals, technology (file servers, home drives, individual machines), location, business units and departments. Understanding how you want to migrate, and which groups need to be migrated together to ensure consistency of access and permissions will help ensure that there are fewer inheritance issues to fix. On top of this, keeping migration groups between 100 and 500 users will only aid in controlling the amount of work that must go into re-adjusting permissions.

A solid understanding of what files must be migrated to individual drives, and which must be migrated to various team folders will also help the process. By comprehending the fundamental structure of permissions within your organization, IT can build a migration schedule that keeps important groups together, and follows an organizational logic as to what files need to be migrated where. Intuitive and obvious as this may sound, it’s far too often neglected by businesses looking to rush into migration. Building a schedule and a strategy that conforms to the logic and structure of the teams and individuals being migrated is crucial to ensuring those migrations go smoothly.

Cloud FastPath, with multiple tools to help migrate and preserve permissions, is more than a match for the hurdle of moving and ensuring the integrity of file structures. Throughout planning, IT can use CFP’s Simulate feature to get a picture of what permissions look like on the source and how permissions will look like following migration, before any data is moved. With this tool, your organization can audit and comb through permissions to check who will have access to what, and where it appears that any mismatches or improper attributions will occur.

After simulation, IT is able to map permissions and ownership attributes into Google Drive, thus getting a better look at where and how inheritance issues will occur. Cloud FastPath’s mapping automation options give IT options for addressing any incompatibilities. Some of the options are:

  • Automatically move content up directory levels to avoid conflict
  • Automatically grant permissions to avoid conflict
  • Automatically restrict permissions to avoid conflict
  • Warn of conflicts
  • Ignore conflicts


Manually mapping permissions to Team Drives reveals itself to be incredibly complicated, and a possibly untenable solution when migrating data from thousands of users. Large scale migration is worthwhile, but ensuring that the migration doesn’t render files unusable or your folder structures in ruins requires the right tool for the job. The proper migration tool can make all the difference between migration being a rousing success and a frustrating debacle.

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