Transferring ownership in #Google Drive #GAFE

In a few days I will be leaving my current school and want to ensure that the work I have curated, created and shared via Google Drive over the past four years does not disappear into the digital ether.

A few weeks ago I began to investigate how to backup Google Apps for Education emails, drive files, photos, etc and discovered Google Takeout. It’s a neat service that worked in the background to create 2GB segments of my work which could be downloaded. It worked really well: converting Google Docs, Sheets and Slides into Microsoft Office compatible files, extracting email into an MBOX readable format. I may not need to use all the files and the emails are purely for reference but I felt a lot better having a non-cloud backup, just in case.

Transferring ownership is very easy as long as you have the email address of someone within the same GAFE organisation. The most efficient method is to use the GAFE admin console which is the only way to transfer ALL files to another user quickly.

However it isn’t quite as quick and easy as you might think: The alternative is to transfer ownership of each file individually! For someone who has kept three or four folders for each of the “strands” of my role – Computing Teacher, eLearning Coordinator, CAS Aberdeen hub chair, Form teacher, etc. there doesn’t appear to be any easy fix via the Admin console – unless there was only one person taking over all of the folders (there isn’t). Transferring ownership of a parent folder does not automatically transfer ownership of all other files and, once my account is deleted, the files are removed from the folder owned by the new user.

There is a simple solution to this – keep files related to departments in dummy department accounts e.g. computingdept and elearning for example. This means that, when personnel changes happen, it is a simple matter of removing the share from the old user and then sharing the folder with their replacement.

You will have to remember to create all files while logged in as the department account too – otherwise the GAFE admin console is still required to transfer ownership from the user to the department account.

Heather Dowd’s video below explains clearly how to go through the process of transferring folders and files to another user and makes use of a dummy “curriculum” account too:

Here are other elements you might have to consider:

  1. Remember to transfer ownership of Google Sites, G+ communities and YouTube channels as well!
  2. Should you deactivate any live Google Forms before transferring ownership?
  3. What happens to comments created by a user who is then deleted from the GAFE system?
  4. Is this something that can be scripted and run by GAFE Administrators prior to a user leaving the domain?
  5. Is Google Takeout a suitable option for students who have built up a lot of data over the course of their time at the school? Should there be a data retention policy so that storage is cleared every few years?
  6. Should you keep your sub-folders to a minimum in order to reduce the time required to transfer ownership? (I know I’m regretting being organised now!)

Keeping it simple to keep your sanity

I’m writing this blog post using the Notes app in my iPod. Last week I spent a few hours with WordPress’ Quick Post and lost the entire blog entry when I attempted to add an image. Usually I use the full Post function which allows saving of drafts as you go but I wanted to create a quick blog post (always good intentions but it rarely happens) and get back to other matters. Live and learn I suppose but at the time I was not best pleased! So until I find a better and more reliable way of composing blog posts (again!) it’s back to using a word processor and copy & paste.

There are a couple of things on my mind today. How best to compose blogs safely is one and the other is how to protect your data when technology fails completely.

For example, my iPod battery is beginning to fail after two years of heavy use and as a result I’ve lost a lot of data due to unexpected shutdowns and the factory restore. Its always the same, you think you’ve covered all the apps and transferred the important files and then you start the restore process and realise you missed an app like iFile (which stores all of my PDFs and office documents). Some are saved because they have to be uploaded from a desktop / laptop but most were downloaded using the inbuilt browser. Ach. Sometimes working offline in the ‘dead time’ between home and work isn’t a great idea.

So as I wait to see if I can get the battery replaced on my itouch 2g I’m keeping the digital content stored on it to a minimum. Even after it is fixed I want to ensure I don’t lose work in progress as easily again, so what are my options? I’m going to try using the Notes app to store blog posts in progress then email them out to my GMail account before logging into wordpress. If this works I might try the post-by-email option. Either way, I intend to keep a back up stage in my workflow and make it as simple as possible.

And what about files I’ve downloaded onto the iPod? Cloud services like GoogleDocs, Dropbox, Box.net are fine as they are quickly uploaded to a data farm somewhere else but they need wifi connectivity to operate. This will be an option with work in the future but at the moment cannot be considered especially because of these sites being blocked at work. There is free public access a few hundred metres away at the local library which while slow might provide a chance to backup or transfer.

Another alternative is to use Tumblr to record web links. The great thing is I can email links to my Tumblr blog at work. The only downside (except work access to view these links) is that post by email adds in the school disclaimer and I can’t see a way of preventing this from appearing in the post at the moment. Also, files have to be hosted elsewhere so this is not practical as an all-in-one solution. However I am a fan of Tumblr and feel it is slightly easier to post content quickly than, say, Posterous.

So in summary keeping it simple but safe is the best way to protect your data and sanity when using devices which require Wifi to transfer files. I need to keep that at the forefront of my mind when working and learning using my mobile device in 2012.