Now that we've told you a bit about what Google Drive is and how it works, are you ready to take the wheel? Here are a few things — both good and bad — that you should know about the popular online file storage and sharing service from Google before you get started with it.
Signing up is free and easy — It costs no money to set up a Google Drive account, and if you already have an account with another Google-owned service, you can use it to sign into Google Drive without needing to create a separate account.
Upload, organize, and download at will — You can move files between your computer and Google Drive (and vice-versa) quickly and easily, so you can use each as a safe storage space for the other. Word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, videos… if a computer can read it, Google Drive can store it. You can also create and manage virtual folders within Google Drive to make sure everything is in its right place.
Collaborate on files with friends and family — Google Drive gives you the power to allow other people to find and/or access your files on Google Drive, as well as decide what people who have access to your files can do with them. For example, you may want people to be able to just look at and download cute pictures of your pets or relatives, while you may want certain people on your business team to be able to edit or make suggestions on a presentation or proposal that you're working on together.
Your own online office space — Google Drive is heavily integrated with Google Docs, a line of office productivity applications developed by Google. Using Google Docs, you can create word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and more without ever leaving Google Drive, and then store your files on Google Drive so you won't have to worry about losing your work!
It isn't a bottomless box — Google Drive only gives you a limited amount of memory space with which to store your computer files. While it's quite a lot of space, at 15 gigabytes (30 gigabytes if you're using Google Drive as part of a business), any emails that you have in Gmail or pictures that you have in Google Photos will count towards this total. You can increase the amount of memory space available to you on Google Drive, but you will have to pay a monthly fee to do so.
Security and privacy can be tricky — If you allow other people to find and access your files on Google Drive, you may be allowing them to download your files, make copies of your files to their own Google Drive, make changes to your files, or even allow more people to find and access your files. You can control these actions by adjusting the sharing settings for each individual file, or for a folder. Be careful, though; any changes to sharing settings for a folder will be applied to all files inside that folder, unless you change the settings on the individual files later.
The bottom line: 9/10
Google Drive is a tool that's as easy-to-use as it is handy. It's free to use (at least initially), and makes uploading, downloading, organizing, and searching for your files a breeze. It also has powerful sharing options to let you show your files on Google Drive to other people, but still control what they can do with those files. And the ability to create office documents in Google Docs and save and share them in Google Drive may make Google Drive your go-to office productivity solution.
The biggest source of problems with Google Drive is that its sharing options, if not used properly, can leave your files vulnerable to being changed, copied, or downloaded against your will. Our other main nitpick is that you only have a limited amount of memory space with which to store your files on Google Drive, unless you're willing to pay a monthly fee. Granted, the limit is large enough that it probably won't bother you, but any files that you have on Gmail or Google Photos will cut into this limit.
If Google Drive sounds like something that you'd get a bit of use out of, head over to our next tutorial, where we show you how to get started with Google Drive by signing up for an account.