Google Drive is a cloud storage service developed by Google. It is a safe place to store and backup your documents, photos, videos, music, etc. in one place so you won’t lose them. It saves a lot of space from your computer or mobile phone because your files are stored in the cloud. All your data, even the updates you have made to your files, are automatically saved online and synced across all devices that are linked to your Gmail account. It also has an excellent collaborative functionality because you can share files and folders with others or invite them to work together on a file at once.
- Safely upload and store your files in the cloud
- View documents, photos, videos, music, etc.
- Automatically saves file online and syncs across all devices
- Access them anywhere you go
- Supports some of the most popular file types
- Quickly share files and invite others to collaborate
- Ability to limit access permission to view, edit, or leave comments
- View file details and activities to keep track of the updates
- Work or view files offline
All your files are within reach from a smartphone, tablet, or computer. So you can access them wherever you go. Google Drive supports a variety of popular file types for documents, images, videos, music, Photoshop, and many more. It is also a great alternative to Microsoft Office. Drive has a complete set of office tools such as Google Docs for word processing, Sheet for spreadsheet creation, Slides for building presentation, and other features such as Google Forms, Drawings, Sites, and more. Plus, it is entirely online and no downloading and installing a software is needed.
Using Drive is pretty convenient since you can quickly share the files and invite others to view, download, and collaborate instead of sending them as an email attachment. You can invite multiple people to work on a file along with you. You can also limit their access to your files or folders, allowing them to view, edit, or leave comments. The updates made on your files are automatically saved and synchronized on all your devices. And you don’t have to worry because Drive has an activity monitor to keep track of the changes made. So you can retrieve an older version of a file when necessary. Deleted files are stored indefinitely in the Trash section unless you delete it permanently from there.
If you have a Gmail account, you get 15GB of free storage with Google Drive. You can use this memory to upload files from your local storage or create new ones. However, the memory is not solely used for Drive. It will be shared with your Gmail account, so if you have an overflowing email, you’ll likely have a less cloud storage. Not to worry, if you need a larger capacity, you can upgrade to their monthly plans.
While you can access your files from the Google Drive website at https://drive.google.com, you can also download the app for iOS and Android to view and manage your files straight from your phone or tablet.
Backup and Sync
As with most cloud storage tools, Google Drive has its own desktop client called Backup and Sync that works for Windows and MAC users to backup and manage your files directly from your computer. Backup and Sync replaces both the Google Photos desktop uploader and Drive for Mac and PC. So it’s a desktop tool with three functions:
- Synced with your Google Drive
- Backup selected local files and folders
- Upload photos and videos to Google Photos
You can download Backup and Sync here for free. Once it is installed on your computer, you can sign into your Google account and start choosing folders from your computer that you want to continuously backup to Google Drive. When you are finished with the setup process, a folder will be created on your desktop named “Google Drive”.
For the photos, you have two options: High Quality or Original Quality. High Quality has a free unlimited storage, which means all the photos and videos you upload are not counted against your Drive space. However, photos that are larger than 16MP, will be compressed to 16MP. For videos, if it’s higher than 1080p then it will be resized to a high-resolution 1080p. Videos that are 1080p or less will look close to similar to the original version. So if you don’t mind losing a little of the quality of your files, then this option will work for you because backing them up with a compressed quality is better than nothing at all. But if you want to keep the original quality of your photos and videos, then you will have to select Original Quality. With this option, your files will be counted against your free 15GB quota. If you exceed, you will need to pay.
As mentioned earlier, Backup and Sync also incorporates Google Photos sync. There’s a checkbox that lets you upload photos and videos to Google Photos. If you want to upload all the photos and videos from your computer to Google Photos then you can use this option.
When you access your Google Drive on a web browser or on your phone or tablet, on the left side menu, the My Drive option contains all the files synced through Google Drive, whereas Computers is where you can see the computers where you have Backup and Sync installed and their respective files and folders you have backed up.
This is a two-way sync. Backup and Sync is not only about backing up and syncing files and folders from your computer to Google Drive, it also allows you to sync the files you have from your Google Drive to your computer so you can access them even when you’re offline. You may sync everything from your Google Drive to your computer or only specific folders. Any changes you make on your files online, either on Google Drive or from your computer, will automatically sync and instantly reflect on all of your devices.
After the setup process, when you access Backup and Sync and check the Preferences section, you will see a section called Removing Items where you can set a delete rule. This is where you can choose what happens on Google Drive when you delete a file from your computer. You may “Remove items everywhere”, which means whatever you delete on your computer or on Google Drive, will be deleted everywhere. If you delete something from your computer but you want to keep it on Drive, there’s an option titled “Don’t remove items everywhere”. If you want to approve the deletion of a file from your computer, you can also choose “Ask me before removing items everywhere”.
Backup and Sync is a great tool to safely backup the files and folders on your computer, but it should not be confused as a restore tool. If your computer crashes, you cannot use Backup and Sync to restore your operating system to an earlier date. Also important to note is when a file gets corrupted, you cannot use it to restore earlier versions.
If you are using the Drive for Mac/PC and/or Google Photos desktop uploader apps, then it is time for you to upgrade to Backup and Sync. You no longer have to switch from one app to another and maintain them separately for your files photos and videos. If you are not using Google Drive yet, now is the time to start using it.