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Google Drive: everything about Google’s cloud service

by Matt

Google Drive is Google’s cloud service, available to anyone with a Google account. It lets you store data online, freeing up space on your computer.

If you have a Google account, you have access to its cloud service, Google Drive. This gives you access to many related services such as Google Docs for word processing or Google Sheet for spreadsheets. In this article, you can see how Google Drive works, and how to use it.

Google Drive, an all-in-one cloud service

Google Drive has been around for a few years now. It was launched in April 2012 with the aim of enabling Google users to store and synchronize data online.

It also offers the opportunity to share documents of all kinds and edit them at will, by means of the internet, on Google’s servers.

Today, Google Drive is available as a web version, for Windows and macOS systems, and as a mobile version for iOS and Android. With such a tool, Google seems to be strengthening online collaboration among its users.

The cloud is used by individuals and businesses alike. The service frees up the hard disks of computers and mobile devices to install larger software or applications.

How does Google Drive work?

As mentioned above, Google Drive lets you store and synchronize files with a computer. Any changes to documents can be made online, via the Drive website or its mobile application.

Synchronization becomes permanent once the client software is installed on the computer. This means you can update your files at any time.

Google’s office tools are also available on Google Drive, including Google Docs, Google Sheet and Google Slide. What’s more, they can be shared on a personalized basis.

In addition to sharing, Google Drive also offers the option of customizing file editing. This means that the owner can define who can access and modify your online data.

Alongside Drive, Google Workspace allows up to 100 people to edit documents. Workspace being the new name given to all Google suites since October 2020.

Google Drive benefits for businesses

Google Drive isn’t just a product for home users. It is widely used in the corporate world to facilitate document searches. The cloud offers a specific service that can integrate all corporate files into Drive.

Indeed, a large volume of data can easily become a headache when searching. In this way, Google Drive uses artificial intelligence to facilitate any document search.

It’s called Priority in Drive, a feature much appreciated by businesses. An AI/ML analyzes the signals sent by modifications to each document. The more you modify a document, the more Drive gives it a higher degree of importance.

So if someone else touches it or comments on it, you’ll know about it, because AI/ML takes care of displaying it in Priority.

They also suggest actions such as replying to comments or approving an access request from a new contributor.

Another advantage with this service lies in the confidentiality it offers. Google Drive uses the signals only to facilitate your searches in your Workspace, without communicating them elsewhere, not even to your IT administrators.

How to use Google Drive?

To benefit from the Google Drive cloud computing service, all you need to do is create a Gmail account, Google’s e-mail service. Those who already have an account can access Drive.

Once an account has been created, you can access all Drive services. The most widely used is the web version, available for computers. However, there is also a mobile version.

To take advantage of the backup service on your computer, simply download the “Backup and synchronization from Google” service.

Here’s how each version of Drive and the third-party applications work:

Web interface

To get Google Drive on your browser, you can go to drive.google.com and log in with your Gmail account. Google Drive has a number of tabs, the most important of which are shown below:

Drive tabs are available on the left-hand side of your screen. These tabs organize your files by category.

You can also access all your Drive files in the “My Drive” tab. This tab also contains your computer’s Drive folder, when synchronized.

Other synchronized data on your hard drive can be viewed in the “computers” tab. As for “shared with me”, this option contains all the folders that your correspondents have shared with you.

The mobile version

You can always use your mobile device, smartphone or tablet, to work with your files in the cloud. Whether your device runs on an Android or iOS system, you can download the Google Drive app from Google Play or the AppStore respectively.

The tabs are more or less the same as those for the web version. A “plus” button lets you upload files, create a new folder or scan a document.

Document sharing

Drive’s main functions are data sharing and synchronization. There are two sharing options. The first is by sharing the link generated by the document on the cloud, this option is called “get link”. To do this, click on the document.

The second option is called “share”. It operates by opening a dialog box in which you can add other people who may have access to the selected document. In this case, adding a person to the dialog box means that you are giving them permission either to view the document, or to modify it. To do this, the person you add must have their own Gmail account.

Synchronization with your desktop

Google Drive can also be synchronized with your desktop via the “Backup and synchronization from Google” application.

Its installation automatically creates a Drive folder on your computer. All files in this folder are automatically uploaded to Drive. You can, however, choose other folders to synchronize.

All files in the cloud are updated as you modify them. You can change your preferences at any time, or deactivate synchronization. In this case, updating is deactivated.

If you download the application to multiple computers, Google Drive takes care of synchronizing the same folders on all devices connected with the same account.

Is Google Drive Free ?

Google Drive offers users 15 GB of free data storage. Beyond this capacity, a fee is charged. Prices vary according to the capacity requested by the user. Google has set up a fee schedule for data stored on Drive. Each user can obtain a maximum of 30TB of storage space. Subscriptions can be taken out on a monthly or annual basis.

Note that the storage allotted includes not only Drive, but also all Google services (Gmail, Photos, etc.) and is part of the company’s Google One offer.

Here is the price list for Google Drive, included in Google One:

15 GB: free
100 GB: €1.99 per month / €19.99 per year
200 GB: €2.99 per month / €29.99 per year
2 TB: €9.99 per month / €99.99 per year
5 TB: €24.99 per month / €249.99 per year
10 TB: €49.99 per month
20 TB: €99.99 per month
30 TB: €149.99 per month

How to secure Google Drive?

Most Google users have already been victims of hacking. In fact, around 5 million Gmail passwords and logins were stolen in 2014 and leaked online. So Google Drive users may be wondering just how secure their files really are.

It’s worth noting that, quite often, it’s the user themselves and the computers or devices used to connect to Google Drive that pose the greatest risk to their data. In general, files on Google Drive are synchronized on computers. They therefore become vulnerable. “To this end, you should use encryption to better hide and protect your files.”

In addition, take advantage of two-factor authentication to prevent hackers from accessing files from another device. And that’s even if they have taken possession of the credentials. And, of course, always make sure you have a strong password.

You should also “remove any apps or browser extensions that have unnecessary access to Google Drive.” Every application that has permission to access Google Drive constitutes an additional vector for hackers and a security hole.

Regardless of previous hacks, the risk of using Google Drive remains low. Google uses powerful 256-bit AES encryption on all its servers. Similarly, when data is in transit between users and these servers, Google uses the TLS protocol to protect data and prevent it from being intercepted.

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