Google Drive might be one of the most prevalent forms of digital storage for teams due to how many people actively use Gmail. When you sign up for a Gmail account, you automatically have a Google Drive account and are allocated 15 GB of free online storage to keep your photos, stories, designs, videos, and more. Once your files are stored in Drive they can be reached from any smartphone, tablet or computer, much other cloud storage solutions.
History of Drive
Created by Google and launched in April of 2012, Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service that allows users to store files in the cloud, share files and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with collaborators. Included in the Google Drive suite are Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, an office suite where you can collaboratively edit documents and more. This feature is somewhat unique to Drive as Dropbox doesn’t have a competitor and the iCloud version works a little differently. You can view documents offline and edit them, but your changes will not be saved until you are connected to the internet. Currently there are more than 240 million active users of Drive.
How We Use It
At Foojee we use Google Drive in a very specific way. It’s a great way to actively navigate shared ‘sheets’ which we regularly use to track hours, mileage and other important company data. Drive is great because of it’s built in office suite. We can quickly open, edit and close spreadsheets, docs, and presentations within our browsers without having to open another application. These documents can also be shared with people outside of our organization or with an accountant who may need to see that information to make sure contractors and employees get paid correctly. To be totally honest we use Drive almost exclusively for the docs and spreadsheets.
As far as storing actual files in Drive, we don’t do much of that. It can absolutely be used to store files and organizationally used in a similar way to Dropbox (If you missed last week’s post on Dropbox, we recommend you check it out). You can upload files and organize them in folders. Drive actually has a great search tool that will help you locate any files you have uploaded. We were already set up on Dropbox and we aren’t wild about some of Google’s privacy policies so we opted to stick with the former instead of switching to Drive.
Google and security is always an interesting conversation. There have been a couple of data hacks in the past, but recently Google has done a better job of securing everyone’s data. The only area of concern for some is that Google has a close relationship with US intelligence agencies and provides information to them upon request. There’s always more to the story, but it’s not our area of expertise so we try to avoid that conversation.
On the upside, Google also offers two-step authentication for greater security so when enabled users must provide a short random code that is sent to their phones via text message. Google has also switched to user secure sockets layer communication (HTTPS) by default. Third-party Google Drive plugins do exist that enable ‘at rest encryption’ of data stored, which adds yet another layer of security.
Google Drive, like many services offers a freemium plan. When you create your account you are given 15 GB of cloud storage for free. You can choose to sit on that amount or Google offers tiered pricing.
15GB - Free
100 GB - $1.99/month
1 TB - $9.99/month
10 TB - $99.99/month
20 TB - $199.99/month
30 TB - $299.99/month
We can’t even fathom using 30 TB of cloud storage, but if your company is big enough and you need that size solution then Drive might be just what you need. We aren’t processing many documents or much data through Google so we’ve been able to manage just fine with the free account.
Google Drive bears a striking resemblance to Dropbox in many ways, but where it differs is the inclusion of it’s native, online-based office suite. For some companies, having the ability to collaborate on documents online and in real-time is incredibly important and useful. If you can look past the office suite, then Dropbox might be better for you, especially if security and user experience are important to you. Having multiple Gmail (or Google) accounts logged in and trying to switch between them and all of the documents contained in each can quickly become a hassle. Switching between ‘personal’ and ‘work’ Dropbox accounts is simple and streamlined.
Ultimately, we recommend you spend a week or two using any of the services we discuss and decide what will work best for you and your workflow or even your company. If you have questions or opinions on the services we’ve talked about so far, we would love to hear them in the comments below!