How to Use Google Drive

By Kacey Kroh, Abshier House

Google Drive is a cloud-based storage service that allows you to download and upload files. With Google Drive, files can be accessed by you or others at different locations and from different devices. Google Drive is a safe place to keep any file– there are no file type restrictions and all data is encrypted, requiring you to grant permission for others to access, edit, or view the files.

The only file restriction imposed by Google Drive is that individual file/folder uploads cannot exceed five TB (Terabytes) in size.

The Google Drive storage space you receive for free is 15 GB (Gigabytes) and can be upgraded to more space if needed. Upgrade prices are as follows:

  • 100 GB – $1.99/mo.
  • 1 TB – $9.99/mo. (most popular)
  • 10 TB – $99.99/mo.
  • 20 TB – $199.99/mo.
  • 30 TB – $299.99/mo.

It is highly unlikely you will need any more space than one TB unless you are using Google Drive for your computer hard drive backups, as well as large photo or video libraries. In most cases, you shouldn’t need to upgrade from the free 15 GB storage space provided.

Keep in mind, true Linux, Mac, and PC hard drive backups (hard drive clones) are the size of your computer’s entire hard drive and Google Drive is not recommended for this purpose if you are using a metered internet connection. If you choose to use this method of safe file keeping, then it is crucial you check with your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to make sure that your service is not metered. Metered internet has an allowance cap and using extra data will cause your bill to increase.

If you plan to use Google Drive as a storage facility for all the photos you take with your phone or tablet, then it is important that you shut off the “sync over metered connections” or “background app refresh” setting from the Google Drive app on your mobile device. This will ensure your monthly statements don’t shock you with data overages.

Like many people, you might want to use Google Drive to solely sync files from your smartphone or tablet to your computer.

Getting started with Google Drive

If you have a Google account, then you already have access to Google Drive. If you do not have a Google account, you can sign up easily by creating a new account from the accounts.google web page. Consumer accounts are free and business or enterprise accounts may be provided by your employer.

Once you have a Google account, you can upload, store and share your files using Google Drive by means of three different methods:

  • Google Drive online
  • Google Drive computer application
  • Google Drive mobile application

While Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s OneDrive offer similar features and apps, Google Drive is the only cloud storage service that rivals DropBox by spanning out into less popular OS platforms. Google Drive is heavily integrated into ChromeOS (Chromebook),as well as available for many other Linux desktop distributions.

The free 15 GB of storage is incorporated across all your Google services. What does this mean? The storage for Google Drive, Google Photos, and Gmail is shared. Gmail, if used heavily to send large attachments will consume your storage. This will also happen rapidly with Google Photos if you choose to upload original or high quality images. Manage your data wisely!

How to use Google Drive online

To use Google Drive from any modern web browser, simply open the browser of your choice. Navigate to drive.google.com. If you are not already signed into Google, you will be asked to enter your Google account credentials to sign in.

how to use google drive
The Google Drive homepage has a simple user interface (UI).

The Google Drive homepage has a simple user interface (UI). The Dashboard along the top of the browser window allows you to adjust settings, perform Google Drive content searches, and manage or share files. To use the dashboard:

  • Click or tap the Search box and enter in keywords to perform a search of your Google Drive content.
    search box
  • Click or tap the Google Apps icon to access other Google services, like Gmail or YouTube.
    apps icon
  • Click or tap the Notifications icon to view account notifications.
    notifications
  • Click or tap the Google Account icon to sign in and out of your account.
    account icon
  • Click or tap the New button to create a new file with one of the connected apps, create new folders, and upload files and folders to your cloud.
    google new icon
  • Click or tap the link icon to get a shareable link to your file which allows you to grant access to others.
    google drive link icon
  • Click or tap the share icon to send a shareable copy of your file directly via email.
    google drive share icon
  • Click or tap the remove icon to move a file or folder from your cloud to the trash.
    trash icon
  • Click or tap the more actions icon for more file management options (folder colors, open files with connected apps, file/folder sorting, and file/folder downloads).
    more icon
  • Click or tap the View/Layout icon to change the file and folder arrangement from list view to grid view.
    view icon
  • Click or tap the View Details icon to view file details such as size, type, previews, and shared status.
    view details
  • Click or tap the Settings icon for Google Drive settings.
    settings icon

Along the left hand side of the browser window is a sidebar that organizes the content and features in an easy-to-digest layout. To use the sidebar:

  • Click or tap My Drive to view and manage the files stored on your cloud.
  • Click or tap Computers to view and manage all the computers and mobile devices synced to your Google Drive account.
  • Click or tap Shared with me to view and manage other’s files stored on other Google Drive accounts that have been shared with you.
  • Click or tap Recent to view all recent Google Drive activity.
  • Click or tap Google Photos to view and manage your photo storage.
  • Click or tap Starred to view all of your favorite or important files.
  • Click or tap Trash to view or empty items you placed in the trash for removal.
  • Click or tap Backups to view and manage backups of device and app data.
  • Click or tap Upgrade Storage to be routed to a web page containing larger tier storage price plans.