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Reviewing files in Google Drive

Review and save shared Google files before they are deleted June 14

Submitted by stauffeg on Wed, 04/12/2023 - 3:19 PM

The next phase of CU Boulder’s Google Storage realignment will require faculty, staff and students to review files that were shared with them by those who are no longer eligible for CU Boulder’s Google services and save them before they are deleted.

Here’s what you need to know to avoid permanently losing files you might need:

  • On June 14, 2023, files in Google Drive that are owned by alumni, retirees* and those who are no longer affiliated with CU Boulder will be deleted. 
  • So that you can identify files that have been shared with you by these individuals and make copies before they are deleted, the files owned by these affiliates will be changed to view-only access starting April 17. Therefore if you wish to retain a file that is view-only, you should create a copy and save it.

* Emeritus faculty and retirees who are working or volunteering for the university are still entitled to CU Boulder’s Google services and will not have their files deleted as part of this process. Learn more about how these changes apply to retirees.

Special note about course content

Please note that some instructors who do not have an active appointment may be categorized as unaffiliated in our HR system and may have their files deleted. An example may be an instructor who hasn’t taught a class since last summer. For this reason, we suggest academic departments thoroughly review course content in Google Drive that has been shared by these instructors and save it to another location like Microsoft OneDrive. People who are unaffiliated will receive an email in early May about losing access to Google Storage.

Identify the files

There are a couple different ways to search for files described below and detailed on the OIT website:

  • First, we suggest identifying files that are important to you by using the “Recent” section of Google Drive. This will allow you to find files that you have recently opened that are owned by accounts that will be deleted. 
  • You might also try looking specifically at files in the “Shared with me” section of Google Drive. From here you can order files by name or when they were shared with you. 
  • You can identify files shared with you by specific people as shown in the example below. For instance, if you want to find files shared with you by someone named Ralphie Buffalo, you would type “owner: Ralphie Buffalo” into the search bar to see all the files shared with you by Raphie. If you find there are a lot of files shared with you by a specific owner, you might try ordering the files by when they were “last modified” to identify files you have used recently.
  • You can check this web resource for a list of people who are no longer eligible to use Google services and will have their files deleted on June 14. 
  • Please note that documents shared with you could show up in your Google Drive and need to be saved if they are owned by someone whose files will be deleted.   

Search for files shared by owner.

Upon opening a Google format file of a no-longer-entitled owner, you should see a banner that says “The file is view-only” as shown below. This banner will not appear on non-Google format files (e.g. PDFs, Word and Excel documents, pictures, videos, etc.) that are view-only.

View-only file banner.

You can find more detailed instructions and videos for identifying files on the OIT website.

Download and save files

The copying of files in Google Drive could cause your account to quickly exceed your Google Storage quota. So unless the file is a Google-formatted file, we recommend that you download the file and save it to another location such as Microsoft OneDrive. To download a file in Google Drive, highlight the file, right click and choose “download” from the list of options. Please note that campus departments are responsible for identifying files that are subject to the university’s records retention guidelines, not OIT. 

Return of orphaned files

When the accounts of alumni, retirees and non-affiliates are deleted on June 14, files owned by you that were stored in these ineligible accounts may return to the root level of your Google Drive. Watch for more announcements closer to the end of May so you can be on the lookout for the return of orphaned files.

Second file migration

Due to the way Google shares and saves files, the primary phase of file migrations skipped files you own that are located in folders owned by those who are no longer entitled to Google services. After the accounts of ineligible people are deleted, some faculty, staff and students will need to go through another file migration process to move these files to OneDrive if they are non-Google formatted files. Those who this applies to will receive an email notification about the scheduling of their secondary migration.


Google’s decision to end unlimited storage for the academic community forced our campus to make significant changes to the way we use Google’s storage so that our teaching and learning missions would be prioritized. One of the changes made was to end providing Google services and storage to alumni, retirees and former affiliates of the university. Alumni and retirees were told to save the files they wish to keep and former affiliates will be notified in early May.

If you have questions about reviewing and saving files in Google Drive, please contact the IT Service Center at or 303-735-4357.