Is Google Drive Safe & Secure?

Is Google Drive safe and secure?

For the most part, Google Drive is safe and secure.  Sure, it has had a few security slip-ups in the past, but these have been relatively minor and few in number compared to those experienced by some of Google Drive's competitors.

The majority of safety and security problems that you're likely to run into when using Google Drive revolve around human error when sharing your Google Drive files, as well as the nature of Google Drive as a part of Google's connected network of Internet applications.  We'll explain the risks involved with both of these facets, as well as how you can work around them.

Google Drive safety and security

Sharing your Google Drive files

One of the neat things about Google Drive is that you can easily allow other people to find and access the files that you store on it.  However, depending on how you set up your sharing options for your files on Google Drive, other people may be able to download your files, copy them to their own Google Drive accounts, make changes to them, or even allow other people to access them against your will.

The key to sharing your Google Drive files responsibly is knowing how to adjust your sharing settings properly.  If you don't want just anyone to be able to find and access one of your files on Google Drive (which you can do, if you are okay with it), then you can make it so that only people who know the specific Internet address of the file can access it.  Or, you can specify that you only want people within your business, or specific people whom you personally choose, to be able to access your file.

You can also control the actions that people who have access to a certain file on Google Drive can take with that file.  For some files, you may want people to be able to edit the file, or give other people access to the file.  For other files, you may want to restrict access to simply being able to view, download, or copy the file.  You can also set additional options whereby your files on Google Drive can't be downloaded, copied, or printed by people without certain access permissions, or can't have their sharing settings changed by anyone but you.

Our How to Share Files on Google Drive tutorial has the specifics on how to adjust all of these settings, and our Is Google Drive Private article has some helpful information as well.

Google Drive as part of the Google Internet application network

Google has implemented a system whereby its users can use one central account to log into nearly every Internet application and service run by Google (including Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Finance, and — of course — Google Drive).  On one hand, this is convenient in that, since you don't need separate accounts for each Google product, you only need to remember one email address and password combination in order to use all things Google.  The flip side of this is that, if a hacker or other troublemaker manages to find the email address for your Google account and crack your password, they now have access to all of your information across all of the Google services that you use.

The best way to remedy this security issue is, quite simply, to make your Google Drive password as difficult to break as possible.  Our How to Make a Strong Password tutorial (here) will give you some tips on how to do that.

 

That's our advice on how to stay safe and secure while using Google Drive!


Is Google Drive Private?

How private is Google Drive?

Google Drive is as private as you want it to be.  That is, you can keep all of your files private if you wish, and only those with access to your Google account (which, ideally, should be just you) can get at them.  Or, you can share certain files with specific people, people within your business, or anyone who wants to find them.  It's up to you.

Google Drive privacy settings

When you share files that you have access to on Google Drive, there are two sets of privacy settings that you can adjust.  The first set has to do with who can find or view your files at all; we'll call this "Access".  The second set has to do with what people who have access to your files can actually do with them; we'll call this "Control".  You can adjust each of these types of settings for each individual file that you store on Google Drive.

Our How to Share Files on Google Drive tutorial will show you how to adjust both types of settings.

Google Drive access privacy settings

These settings control who can find and do stuff to your files on Google Drive in the first place.  There are five different options, from least private to most private:

PUBLIC

Anyone on the Internet can find and access your files on Google Drive that have this setting, either by using a general search engine or searching on Google Drive itself.

PUBLIC LINK

Your Google Drive files that have this setting cannot be found, but they can still be accessed by anyone who has their specific Internet addresses.

DOMAIN

Anyone logged into Google Drive with an email address from your particular email domain (for example, ours at Techboomers is "@techboomers.com") can find and access your Google Drive files that have this setting.

(Note that this setting will only appear if you are using Google Drive as part of a business.)

DOMAIN LINK

Your Google Drive files that have this setting cannot be found, and they can only be accessed by people who know their specific Internet addresses AND are logged into Google Drive with an email address from your particular email domain.

(Note that this setting will only appear if you are using Google Drive as part of a business.)

SPECIFIC PEOPLE

Only specific people whom you have invited to access Google Drive files that have this setting may do so.  If you have not invited anyone else to access these files, then they are more-or-less completely private.

Google Drive control privacy settings

These settings deal with what people who have access to your files on Google Drive can actually do with them.  You can set them for both individual people whom you explicitly share your Google Drive files with, as well as the general groups of people to whom you allow access to your Google Drive files.  There are four options, from most private to least private:

CAN VIEW

This setting gives other people the least amount of control over your files on Google Drive.  When a file has this setting, people who have access to it can only view it, download it, or make a copy for themselves to save to their own Google Drive.  The latter two privileges can be restricted at your discretion, as well.

CAN COMMENT

Files on Google Drive that have this setting can have a bit more done to them by those who can access them.  In addition to the viewing privileges listed above, users can leave comments on these files, and suggest edits to be made to them (if they are Google-format office documents).  They cannot directly edit these files, though.

CAN EDIT

This is typically the least private control setting that a file on Google Drive can have.  In addition to the viewing and commenting privileges listed above, users who have access to these files can directly edit them (if they are Google-format office documents), grant or revoke access to them, move them in and out of folders in Google Drive, and upload or delete different versions of them.

Note that the ability of people who can edit your Google Drive files to grant or revoke access to them can be turned off if you wish.

IS OWNER

This setting gives the highest level of control over a Google Drive file, and is usually reserved for the person who originally created or uploaded the file.  The owner of a file can do everything that a person who can edit the file can do, with two important exceptions.

First, the owner of a file is the only one who can permanently delete that file from Google Drive.  Second, only the owner of a file on Google Drive can make someone else the owner of that file.  In doing so, they downgrade their control privileges to only being able to edit that file, since a file can't have more than one owner at a time.

 

Those are the ins and outs of how privacy works on Google Drive!


Google Drive Pricing

How much does Google Drive cost?

As we mentioned in our introduction to Google Drive, like many other services from Google, Google Drive is free to use… at least initially.  However, it only gives you a limited amount of memory space with which to store your files.  Granted, it's quite a bit of space — 15 gigabytes (15,000 megabytes) if you're using Google Drive as an individual, or 30 gigabytes (30,000 megabytes) if you're using Google Drive as part of a business — but there's a catch to that.  If you use Gmail and/or Google Photos on your Google account, then the email messages and photos that you store with those two (respective) services count towards your memory space limit on Google Drive.

Once you log into Google Drive, you can see the total amount of memory space that you are currently using across these three Google services, compared the total amount of memory space that you have available.  If you move your mouse cursor over this measurement, a window will pop up that will allow you to see how much memory space that the files on each individual service are taking up.

If you click the "i" icon next to "Drive" in this window, your main Google Drive window will change to show you a list of your files on Google Drive, sorted by how much memory space they take up.  This can be useful for knowing which files you may want to delete from Google Drive if you're running out of memory space.

Google Drive pricing plans

Google Drive's pricing plans only affect the amount of memory storage space that you have for Google Drive.  Note that the amount of memory space listed in each plan is the total amount that you get; it doesn't include any memory storage totals from less expensive plans.

Also note that all Google Drive plans are billed on a monthly basis, meaning that you can't buy a subscription that lasts for the whole year.

15 GB (individual) / 30 GB (business) plan — Free

100 GB plan — $2 per month

1 TB (1000 GB) plan — $10 per month

10 TB (10,000 GB) plan — $100 per month

20 TB (20,000 GB) plan — $200 per month

30 TB (30,000 GB) plan — $300 per month

How to change your Google Drive pricing plan

  1. Go to drive.google.com in your web browser and log in.

  2. Click Upgrade Storage.

  3. On the new screen, under "Plans", click the arrows on either end to scroll through the available plans, and then click Choose below the plan that you want. 

    Note that the first time that you choose a plan that costs money, you will have to input your billing (e.g. credit card) details.

That's some information about the (potential) cost of Google Drive!


Google Drive Review

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.

Pros

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!

Cons

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.


What is Google Drive? + How Google Drive Works

In our current Age of Information, being able to reliably preserve your computer files — and  share them with others quickly and conveniently — is rapidly becoming a necessity. An Internet-based storage system has many advantages over other traditional ways of storing your files, such as on U.S.B. sticks or  your computer's hard drive. What happens if you lose track of your U.S.B. stick, or if your computer crashes?  Google Drive solves many file loss pitfalls like these.

Google Drive is an Internet-based computer file storage system that acts as a companion to your computer's hard drive. You can also use Google Drive to create new office documents, share your files with other users of your choosing, and access your files remotely from other Internet-capable computers or mobile devices.

How Google Drive works: 4 ways to use Google Drive

1. Sign up for a free account

It costs you no money to sign up for an account on Google Drive.  Plus, if you have an account with another Google-owned service — such as Gmail or YouTube — you can use that account for Google Drive!  No need to create a separate account!

2. Upload your computer files for safe keeping

Once you have a Google Drive account, you can move files from your computer to Google Drive for safekeeping on Google's servers.  This not only means that your files will be safe if something happens to your computer, but also that you can access or download your files from anywhere that you can log into Google Drive!

3. Invite your friends and family to collaborate on your files

By using the "Share" options, you can invite other people to access your files on Google Drive.  There, they can view your files, download them, or copy them to their own Google Drive.  You can even allow them to comment on or edit your files, which is really handy if you're editing business documents as part of a team!

4. Create your own office documents on Google Drive through Google Docs

Google Drive isn't just a place for storing files that are already on your computer.  You can also use Google Docs to create word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and more without leaving Google Drive!  Then you can store your newly-created documents on Google Drive, where they are automatically saved so that you never have to worry about losing your work!

 

Those are just a few things that you can do with Google Drive!   In our Google Drive course, we’ll examine how its pricing works, how to upload files, how to create Google Docs in Google Drive, and much more.  Get on your way to making Google Drive your engine of choice for storing and sharing your computer files safely, quickly, and conveniently!