Google's solution to online storage and file transfer
Google Drive is the organizational tool par excellence and, some would argue, the glue that keeps many people’s online life together. Google Drive is Google’s file storage, sharing, and synchronization tool, and like Google’s other core Suite services, it’s totally free at the most basic level. Integration with Google Docs means that if you were so inclined, you could manage your entire online life in the cloud. If that sounds good and you’re looking for a way to get all your online information organized, accessible, and shareable, you could do a lot worse.
Cloud based storage
Google Drive is perfect for storing files and accessing them on the go.
Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage service that allows you to access your files, photos, music, and more across multiple locations and with multiple users. If you’ve ever regretted that a document was on the computer at home while you were at work, or battled with a pen drive that just won’t work, Google Drive may well be the answer to your prayers.
Beyond simply storing your files, Drive also allows you to share them and collaborate with other users in real-time. The only drawback here is that security on this sharing is not as tight or advanced as you might be used to if you’ve used other file sharing tools in the past.
Google Drive also offers automatic backup and syncing for Mac and Windows users. That means you can create a file on your desktop that will be automatically synced to the cloud, perfect if you work on your computer but want to make sure that others can contribute or see it too.
A fast, clean piece of software, the only thing that will slow Drive down is whatever it is you’re storing on it. Keep your files organized and free of duplicates to get the most out of the tool. Access and privacy benefit from all the usual features you’d expect from a Google tool, including 2-step authentication and on-the-ball alerts for any possible security concerns. In the free tier, you’ll probably have to at least try to troubleshoot any problems yourself, as getting in touch with a customer support representative is a roundabout process that can take a while. If you’re tackling a problem, take advantage of the massive amount of help and training Google provides online.
Finally, it would be remiss not to mention Google Drive’s ability to integrate with Google Docs. If you already use this office suite, it makes using Drive to store all your documents a no-brainer and works so perfectly, you wouldn’t even consider moving.
Where can you run this program?
Google Drive is available online, with backup and sync available for Windows (7 and above) and macOS. You can also download the Drive app on iPhone, iPad, and Android. The free version offers 15GB of storage spread over your Google Account. After that, you can upgrade to various tiers of paid storage. If you use a Google for Business account, you’ll start with a greater amount of free storage.
Is there a better alternative?
Unless you’re a OneDrive or iCloud user, many will consider the true alternative to Google Drive to be Dropbox.
In the Drive vs. Dropbox debate, Google takes an early lead because it offers way more free storage than Dropbox - 15GB vs. 2GB - but remember that 15GB is spread across your whole Google account. Even so, it’s better than 2GB, and that may sway users with smaller amounts of data to store.
Google Drive also triumphs in terms of security and ease of browsing, but Dropbox has faster upload and sync. Google Photos offers a great add-on to Drive for managing a usual quantity of photos, but if you’re dealing with truly huge amounts of data, Dropbox’s faster upload may save your patience and your sanity.
Google Drive is a solid, easy-to-use, and accessible file storage, sharing, and organizational app. If you’re looking for a really easy way to store documents, photos, and more and share them with the people who matter in your life, we think it’s a great option.
If the majority of your uploads are going to be photos and videos, definitely consider using it in conjunction with Google Photos, but if you’re focused on documents and PDFs, then it’s perfect as is. The standard amount of storage for free users is more than enough for an average person’s non-business use and provided you keep your Drive free of duplicates and general mess, you’re unlikely to hit up against the limit.
Google Drive’s search capabilities are another reason we’re such big fans. Imagine what you’re likely to be storing in your Drive - letters, instructions, lists, song lyrics, schedules, plans, and more. Sure, you’ll have an easier time if you categorize them sensibly, but that super-powered Google search makes finding things a breeze. Seeing as how you’ll be using Drive to store documents and then access them on the go, this makes perfect sense - and will make your life so much easier!
Should you download it?
Yes. If you’re a personal user who will use the free version, we think Google Drive is one of the most accessible and user-friendly cloud storage and sharing platforms around. If you think you’re going to be storing or uploading a huge number of large files, you might need to look to Dropbox for something faster, but for most users, Google’s offering more than ticks all the boxes.
- Powerful search feature
- Generous free storage allowance
- Integrates perfectly with Google Docs
- Collaborating and sharing very easy
- Automatic backup for Mac & Windows
- Storage allowance must be spread across Google
- Photo management best via an add-on
- Account-switching can get messy
- Not especially fast
- No sharing encryption