What happens to Shared Files when a G Suite User is Suspended or Deleted?


It’s critical to understand what happens to shared data when suspending or deleting a G Suite user. Let’s explore the differences between suspending and deleting G Suite Users and impacts on shared data.

Why is this an important element to understand for cloud data security?

  • Understanding the impacts to accessibility of widely shared data after suspending/deleting an account
  • Understanding potential access to publicly shared documents after an employee is offboarded
  • Impacts to files in My Drives vs Shared Drives

Suspending a G Suite User

A G Suite user can be suspended at any time by an administrator and this will block the user's access to your company’s Google services.

Data owned by a suspended user is still accessible per the original sharing settings applied to the documents.

  • Coworkers and employees can still access documents previously shared by the now suspended user
  • Documents that were shared to the entire company via link sharing are still accessible
  • Documents shared to the entire world by link are still accessible and may be accessed anonymously by the suspended user

Deleting a G Suite User

Deleting a G Suite user will initiate a series of steps where the administrator can choose to transfer files to a new owner. The admin can choose to transfer only shared files or also transfer files that aren’t shared to anyone. Files that aren’t transferred will be deleted.

If files are transferred to a new owner, those files will retain previous sharing settings but a new owner will be assigned.

If files are not transferred to a new owner then they will be deleted and no longer accessible to anyone. The deletion process occurs 20 days after the G Suite account is deleted. During that interim period the files may be available per their original settings.

Archiving a G Suite User

Although official google documentation is unclear, observation and testing shows that archiving a G Suite user results in shared files continuing to be accessible. This mirrors the behavior of suspending a G Suite User

Files Stored in My Drives vs Shared Drives

The above actions occur on all files “owned” by the account in question. These files reside within the “My Drive” of the user. Files located in “Shared Drives” are not owned by the user and suspending/deleting a user has no impact on files within Shared Drives.

Additional reading from Google docs

Where Altitude Networks can help

  • Need to understand if an exiting employee has downloaded data or shared to a personal account?
  • Did a former employee's personal account access company information?
  • Concerned about offboarding employees and security of cloud data?

Learn more about what Altitude Networks can do to protect your company's cloud data