Launched in 2012, Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage and sync service from Google. You can use it to keep a backup of your important files online, maintain identical copies of files on multiple devices, and collaborate on documents with others in real time.
In this Google Drive review, we’ll look at how it has developed into one of the best cloud storage solutions available today.
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Google Drive: Plans and pricing
Google Drive is now bundled into a membership plan called Google One. The storage space that you get through Google One is shared between Google Drive, Google Photos, and Gmail. The free account includes 15 GB of storage.
Google One has two paid account membership levels. The 100 GB plan is £1.59/month ($1.99/month) and the 2 TB plan is £7.99/month ($9.99/month). If you prepay annually, you essentially only pay for 10 months out of the year. Both paid plans allow you to add up to five additional members to the account, who each get 15 GB of personal space and access to the shared storage space.
Another way to get Google Drive is with a G Suite membership. For $6/user/month, you get Google Drive with 30 GB of cloud storage. At $12/user/month, you get unlimited storage if you have over four users. A $25/user/month plan adds priority support and advanced security controls.
Google Drive strikes a good balance between functionality and simplicity. With the web interface and mobile apps, you can access your files from anywhere. You can also edit those files, as Drive integrates with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Many businesses have moved from using the Microsoft Office suite to working exclusively in this Google ecosystem.
Useful features such as file versioning, offline access, advanced search, and preview options are there when you need them. You can decide which files get synced to each device and which stay on the cloud, reducing the amount of hard disk space that you use.
Interface and in use
There’s nothing particularly outstanding about the Google Drive interfaces, but as they all follow Google’s design language, it’s easy for team members to quickly get up to speed using them. When you’re working with the web interface, it’s easy to forget that you’re using a browser because the interface is so intuitive and straightforward. The mobile apps for iOS and Android mirror the web app design.
On Windows and macOS, you can install the Backup and Sync tool, which is a barebones syncing tool that will automatically download any changes that you make to files on your computer and update your Google Drive. Occasionally, however, the tool cannot sync a change, and you must restart the program for it to start syncing again.
Google Drive has a comprehensive Help Center that covers most of the queries that you could have about the software. There’s also a Help Community that’s ready to assist with any problems.
If you still have issues, Google has 24/7 live chat and email support. In our testing, we were able to talk to a technical support agent within 10 minutes of contacting them. With a G Suite account, you can get phone support, and with the $25/user/month Enterprise plan, you get a designated Google advisor, with a one-hour target response time for critical issues.
Google Drive stores and transfers all your files in an encrypted format. It can’t be considered end-to-end encryption, though, because Google technicians could access your files if they were compelled to by law enforcement. Google has a good track record of keeping files secure, however, and with two-factor authentication enabled, it’s incredibly difficult for anyone to hack your account.
If you’re managing a team of people, Google Drive’s business plans have more comprehensive tools for auditing who has access to what. You can monitor the files that everyone is accessing and get customized alerts for specific events of interest.
Microsoft OneDrive is the most direct competitor to Google Drive if you use the Microsoft Office suite instead of G Suite. It integrates perfectly with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office but only offers 5 GB of storage for free (Google Drive offers 15 GB). However, a $9.99 Microsoft 365 Family plan gets you up to 6 TB of storage space and downloadable Microsoft Office applications, so it could be a better choice if you don’t want to be hooked into the Google ecosystem.
Google Drive has a wealth of useful tools that elevate it beyond a mere cloud storage solution. The slick apps and tight integration with G Suite make it easy to fit into your workflow if you use other Google products.
Though Google has a good track record of security, we’d like to see the option of end-to-end encryption. Also, many cloud storage solutions offer more storage space for the same cost as Google Drive. But the seamless integrations with third-party apps, in-app editing tools, and fast performance make Google Drive an easy sell to any consumer or business looking for a cloud storage or backup service.
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