If you’ve ever used Google or any of its services, you’ve certainly heard of Google Drive, the company’s greatest cloud storage solution; but how does Google Drive work? In this essay, we’ll go over the fundamentals of what it is and how it’s most typically used.
What Is Google Drive?
Google Drive is a cloud storage service, and its primary role, like all cloud services, is to relieve some of the strain on your hard drive. Cloud storage works by transferring your files to its own remote servers, or the “cloud,” so freeing up space on your computer. This frees up capacity on your devices for more vital tasks, such as installing huge programs and games.
However, cloud services outperform traditional storage in many ways.
When your files are in the cloud, you can access them from any device with an internet connection, no matter where you are. You can also share them with others, which opens up new opportunities for online cooperation (read our piece on why online storage is useful).
You already have Google Drive if you have a Google account. Simply creating an account earns you 15GB of free storage, putting it near the top of our best free cloud storage list.
However, Google uses Drive to store Google Photos, as well as Gmail attachments and Google Workspace documents, which can consume a significant amount of space.
This suggests you should consider upgrading to a paid plan. Fortunately, Drive’s costs are fairly flexible, and it is possible that it may meet your requirements. If you simply need a minor update, the 100GB plan is only $1.99 per month. If that isn’t enough, its 2TB plan is only $9.99 per month.
Unfortunately, Google has frequently been chastised for its dubious privacy regulations, and Drive is no different. Google grants itself authority to scan any Drive file. Furthermore, there is no zero-knowledge encryption, which means Google owns all encryption keys to your data and may access them whenever it wants.
If you’re extremely concerned about privacy, there are methods to encrypt your data. Encrypting your files before uploading them to the cloud with an encryption service like Boxcryptor assures that no one can scan or access them without your consent.
How Much Does Google Drive Cost?
Signing up for a Google account and utilizing Google Drive is completely free. You get 15GB of free storage space, which is significant when compared to other free storage options.
If you require more storage capacity, you must purchase a Google One account. Google One is merely a collection of services.
In other words, when you pay for extra storage space, Google throws in a few extra perks like photo editing capabilities, a mobile VPN service, and discounts on Google products.
The Google One Basic plan boosts your storage space to 100GB for $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. You receive the extra photo-editing features we described earlier in the Google Photos mobile app, as well as phone and text chat functionality.
The $2.99 per month (or $29.99 per year) Standard plan increases storage to 200GB and includes a 3% discount on Pixel phones, Nest smart home devices, and other products in the Google Store.
If you want to use the VPN service, you’ll need the $9.99-per-month (or $99.99-per-year) Premium plan, which includes 2TB of storage and doubles your shop discount to 10%.
Higher-priced options start at $149.99 per month for 30TB of storage. Five family members and friends can share all plans. If you pay for a Basic, Standard, or Premium plan annually rather than monthly, you will receive a modest savings.
How does Google Drive Work?
Consider Google Disk to be a modern-day hard drive.
Google Drive allows you to upload and save a variety of file kinds, including documents, photographs, audio, and videos, to Google servers, or the “cloud.” Drive can be used as a backup solution or to free up storage space on your smartphone.
To understand why Google Drive is so popular, keep in mind that it is designed to work in tandem with Google. One of Drive’s biggest features is its connection with Google’s office suite of cloud-native apps, which will appear familiar if you’ve used Microsoft Office.
The majority of users will gravitate toward these applications, which include Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and others. They not only let you to create and modify documents, but they also include user-friendly tools for real-time collaboration.
Here is a list of the most popular Google Drive applications:
Google Drive is compatible with a Google-powered app suite.
Some of Google Drive’s other key features:
- File storage: Google provides 15 GB of free storage space across Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Photos by default. If you ever reach that limit, you may simply upgrade to a Google One account to get more space.
- File sharing: Files are private until they are shared. You can, however, invite others to view, modify, or download files and documents at any time.
- File access from any device: Files can be accessed from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. There is also offline access.
- Extensive search: Drive can detect images and even text in scanned documents, making it much easier to find files.
- Secure storage: Drive files are encrypted with AES256 or AES128 using the same security mechanism as other Google services.
How to use Google Drive
A Google account is required to access Google Drive.
If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to create one in order to use Google Drive.
A Google account is free, and it grants you access to Google Drive as well as other Google Services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Photos.
After creating an account (or logging in to an existing one), you may access Google Drive in your browser by going to drive.google.com. This will take you to Drive’s web interface, which is fairly simple to use.
As you become more acquainted with all that Google Drive has to offer, you’ll most likely want to start by learning how to upload, create, manage, and share files.
Managing and organizing files and folders
Making folders is a quick and straightforward way to organize your stuff.
When you have a sufficient number of files, you may want to arrange them. The simplest approach to manage your Drive, similar to arranging things on your desktop, is to create folders.
Navigate to your Drive and click “New, then “Folder” to create a new folder on the online interface.
After you’ve named your folder, you’ll be able to drag and drop files into it, which can be found in the pane to the left of your screen under “My Drive.”
If you no longer require a file and wish to keep your Drive tidy, the simplest approach to delete it is to right-click on it. This will open a context menu. Select “Remove” from the drop-down menu. You can also pick the file to be deleted and then click the trash symbol in the upper-right corner of your screen.
Sharing files and folders
Sharing files is as simple as right-clicking.
The ability to share files and folders with others is the most appealing feature of Google Drive. Drive makes it simple to share everything from videos to whole Drive files. To share a Google Drive file or folder, right-click it to open the context menu, then choose “Share.”
From there, you can add collaborators by email address and specify whether they may edit, comment on, or merely view the work.
Any files created in Drive can be modified by many individuals at the same time, allowing you to work with others in real time.
Accessing Google Drive
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, it’s crucial to understand that there are other ways to access your Drive.
You can access the cloud from your mobile device or desktop in addition to utilizing Drive in your computer browser.
Google Drive on Mobile
You may access files from anywhere using the Google Drive mobile app.
The Google Drive mobile app is available for both iOS and Android and is a must-have for anyone who needs instant access to their files from any location.
You can use the app to view, download, upload, and delete files directly from your mobile device.
If you want to create, edit, and organize files on the go, you’ll need to download the appropriate standalone mobile app.
Each software includes offline functionality so that it may function without an internet connection, but it is also designed to work in tandem with the Google Drive app:
- Google Docs for iOS and Android;
- Google Sheets for iOS and Android;
- Google Slides for iOS and Android.
Google Drive on desktop
You can use Back Up and Sync to synchronize local files with Google Drive.
If you prefer to work on a desktop rather than in a web browser, Back Up and Sync is a Mac and PC program that makes it simple to backup files to Google Drive. The desktop client connects with Google Drive easily and simplifies the backup procedure.
You can attach a Google Drive file to a message by clicking the Google Drive symbol in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen.
Gmail, on the other hand, makes it simple to save attachments to Drive. By hovering your mouse over the attachment, you’ll be able to download the file or save it to Drive. Simply click the Google Drive icon and navigate to the desired folder.
Accessing Files Offline
Navigate to your settings page to manage your offline settings.
Another handy hint is that Drive allows you to view and modify files without being connected to the internet.
While you may always download files or folders to your computer for offline use, offline mode allows you to view and edit Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides, with any changes instantly synced when you reconnect to the internet.
To enable offline mode, go to Drive and click the gear symbol in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You can enable offline mode in your preferences by ticking the box next to “Offline.”
Converting files to Google Drive format
Converting a file to Google Drive format for easier collaboration is simple.
Google Drive supports a wide range of file formats, however if you intend to modify files in Google Drive, they must first be converted to the Google Drive format. This will enable you to simply share the file with others and unlock options that will allow you to collaborate with others in real-time.
Files that can be converted to Google Drive format include:
- Text documents (.doc, .docx, .html, .txt, .rtf, .pdf)
- Spreadsheets (.xls, .xlsx, .ods, .csv)
- Presentations (.ppt, .pps, .pptx)
To convert a file to Google Drive format, simply right-click on it, select “Open With,” and then select the recommended software. If you have a Microsoft Word document, for example, you can convert it to a Google Doc document.
Google Drive applications and services
There’s a lot to learn about how Google Drive interacts with apps and other Google services.
We’ve already discussed Drive’s basic office suite Docs, Sheets, and Slides, which can be thought of as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint alternatives. While these apps will satisfy the majority of users, Drive also supports and connects with other Google services such as Google Jamboard.
Add-ons extend the functionality of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms.
Google’s office suite is excellent on its own, but you can customize it to meet your specific needs using add-ons. There are numerous add-ons available to help you get more out of Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms.
To investigate add-ons, open or create any file, then select “Add-ons” from the toolbar at the top of your screen. To view what’s available, go to the Chrome webstore.
Third-party app integrations
In addition to add-ons, Drive is designed to integrate with hundreds of third-party programs, allowing you to split and merge PDFs, digitally sign documents, draw diagrams, and more all from within Drive.
For those who are fascinated with productivity, you can also connect Drive to a variety of productivity apps for a more seamless workflow. Here’s an example:
How to Upload And Download Google Drive Files
To view your Google Drive files, you must first upload them using the browser, PC, or mobile app.
First, we’ll look at the browser version, where you can upload files to Drive in two ways.
Upload to Google Drive Using a browser,
The first is the drag and drop approach, which involves selecting a file to upload from your PC, dragging it to Drive in a browser window, and dropping it. This applies to both individual files and directories. A little window in the bottom right corner will display the upload status.
The second option is to click on the New button in the top-left corner of the website and then choose File or Folder upload. Then select the files or folders to upload, click Open or Upload, and then sit back and wait for the upload to finish.
Using the desktop client, upload to Google Drive.
Using Google Drive for Desktop is an even easier way to upload to Google’s cloud service. This utility generates Google Drive synchronised folders on your computer. Simply drag and drop the documents you want to upload into the Drive folder. It functions similarly to transferring files from one folder to another on your computer, albeit the files may take some time to sync.
Using Your Smartphone, Upload To Google Drive.
Uploading files from a mobile device is also possible. Open the Drive app, then hit the Plus symbol in the bottom-right corner, then Upload and pick the file to transmit to the cloud.
You can also rapidly upload files by opening them, selecting the Share option, and then selecting Save to Drive.
Downloading files from Google Drive is likewise quick and simple on any internet-connected device. If you use Google Drive for Desktop, you may copy everything you post to any other folder on your computer just like any other file. By right-clicking and selecting Download, you can also download files from the web client. This is applicable to both individual files and entire folders.
On mobile devices, it may be more convenient to leave the files in the cloud and open them when needed, but there are times when you’ll need to find that Google Drive download option.
You must locate your file in the program, hit the three dots on the right, and choose Download.
How to Use Google Drive to Organize and Delete Files
You can organize your files on Drive in the same way that you would on your computer. You can keep them all in one place (by default, My Drive) or separate them into folders and subfolders. You can always look for files using the search box at the top of the screen, no matter how you organize them.
In the web client, click the New button and then select Folder. You can also right-click on your computer’s Drive folder and create a new folder as you would normally in Windows.
On a mobile device, hit the blue Plus icon and then choose Folder.
Use the drag and drop method for the online client and the Drive folder to move files into a folder on the web. This also works on mobile, however in my experience, it’s easier to press the More actions icon (three vertical dots) adjacent to a file, pick Move, and then select the new place for the file.
How to delete Drive files
Because storage space in the cloud is limited, it’s critical to understand how to remove Drive files to free up space. On the web, the simplest method is delete choose a file or folder and press the Delete key on your keyboard.
This applies to both the web client and the Drive folder.
To delete a Drive document from your mobile device, hit the More actions icon (three vertical dots) adjacent to the file and select Remove. Then select Move to trash to confirm.
How to Integrate Google Drive with Third-Party Applications
Drive is integrated with Google Workspace, which includes Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, which compete with Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Although each of these services has its own website, any document you generate is instantly saved in Drive. Drive also works with other Google services such as Google Forms, Google Drawings, and so on.
You can create a document directly from Drive’s web interface or mobile app, which will take you to the dedicated page for that Google Doc. How precisely? Select Google Docs, Google Sheets, or Google Slides by clicking the blue New button in the top-left corner of the website. On a mobile device, tap the blue Plus icon and select one of the three options listed in the preceding section.
Whatever method you select, you will always have access to all created documents from your PC, mobile device, and the Drive folder on your computer. That is, assuming they have access to the internet.
Google Drive also interfaces with a wide range of third-party applications.
- DocHub (signing PDFs)
- Pixlr Express (photo editor)
- Draw.io (diagrams)
- and many more
The whole list is available via the web interface. Click the New button, then More, then Connect more apps. When you find anything you like, click the Connect option to add it to your Drive.
Using Gmail’s Drive integration
Gmail and Drive connection is one of the greatest and most useful. In fact, Google Drive as a service predates unofficial support for using Gmail for storage. Gmail Drive was established by fans to allow you to utilize Gmail as a storage medium. Gmail Drive was no longer required and is no longer supported after Google Drive and Drive for Desktop were released.
Start drafting a message in Gmail and then click the Drive symbol at the bottom of the screen to share a Drive file. Then you may navigate to the file and share it. Click the Attach symbol (the paperclip) at the top of the screen on mobile, then Insert from Drive. This is also a convenient method for sharing huge files that are provided as links rather than attachments.
It’s also simple to save Gmail attachments to Drive. Simply move your mouse over the image or other media file and click the Drive symbol in the lower right corner. On mobile, long-press the image and then hit View image. In the upper right, tap the More options icon (three dots), then Save to Drive.
It’s important to note that files in Gmail count toward the same storage limit as files in Drive (much like photographs in Google Photos), so you’re not saving any space this way. However, you are making it easier to find them in the Drive interface on the web, mobile, and desktop clients.
You can also pick other files by long-pressing on a file. Follow the same steps to enable offline mode for several files at the same time.
Google Drive is, at its core, a strong online storage solution. However, with time and the correct knowledge, it has the potential to become an invaluable productivity tool for anyone, from students to corporate executives.
If you want to take your Drive experience to the next level, you can always visit the G Suite Learning Center, which has thorough guidelines for everything Google Drive.