What Is Google Drive?

The fundamentals of Google Drive explained

George Wacker,

Simply put, Google Drive is a free, easy to use, comprehensive cloud file service. It allows users  to create, organize, store, and share files in the "cloud," which allows access across your desktop, phone, and other supported devices.   Google's free office productivity suite currently includes Google Docs for word processing, Google Sheets for spreadsheets, and and Google Slides for presentations.   Drive allows you to do work on your own computer at home, on the go, or on your computer at work and securely and safely share these files with anyone, even people who don't have a Google account.  

So, how do you get started using Google Drive? 

Google Drive is accessible via your web browser by visiting drive.google.com, iOS and Android apps, and various third party applications. All you need to get started adding to your Google Drive is a Google account.   You can even download Google Drive to your Windows or Mac desktop and it will act and look like any other folder on your computer, allowing you to drag and drop files and folders into it.  

What can you store on Google Drive? 

Pretty much anything that you can store in the folders on your computer you can store on the drive. You should look at your Google Drive as a hard drive that is securely stored offsite for you to access whenever and wherever you need to, provide an internet connection, or cell service, is available.   For example, you may have a Google Drive folder where you store items from work that you may want to work on when you get home. Whenever you save these files, they are accessible from wherever you decide to work on them next.   Whether you're saving Microsoft Office file extensions, PDFs, most typical image files (JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, and WEBP), video files (MPEG4, 3GPP, MOV, AVI, MPEGPS, WMV, FLV, OGG, and WebM), audio files (MP3, MPEG, WAV), Adobe Photoshop files, Apple Pages, Autodesk AutoCAD extensions, PostScript, and fonts, you're covered by Google Drive.  

Who can you share these files with?

You can share these files with anyone. Well, anyone who can receive an email. Say you save a text document and you'd like your sister in California to take a look over it before you email it. All you have to do is send her the link to the Google Drive file and she can review it, even make changes on her end, and then save the file back to your Google Drive.  

How much does it cost? 

All Google accounts are given 15 GB for free, which is sometimes more than enough for many users. However, if you're looking to use your Google Drive for more serious work, such as uploading videos for review, or even doubling as a back up folder for your main drive, you can purchase upgrades 100GB to 30TB of space.  

Why Should I Use It?

If you find yourself sharing a lot of files via email, you may want to look at Google Drive as a better way to manage those files. For example, if you are working a document that may need multiple revisions before it can be submitted for approval, wouldn't it be easier to work on one online-accessible document that can be continually changed rather than emailing multiple updated files that have to be saved individually each time?  

In short, Google Drive is a fantastic way to improve file transfer among colleagues, or even a better way to organize the files you need to work on. Sure, there is a bit of a learning curve whether you're using Google Drive on the web or as a downloaded app. However, Google prides itself on making its products user-friendly, so get started and share away.   Want to learn more about Google Drive and the Google Suite?  Join us for Introduction to Google Suite on Sept. 12.  To learn more and register, please click here.     

Mr. Wacker is an adjunct computer professor at NCC and president of Lehigh Valley with Love Media, LLC.