What Is Google Drive?

Kids use it for school and you can use it, too!

A man and woman using Google Drive and the cloud to sync files between a computer and a smartphone
Google Drive can save data to the cloud and sync files across devices.

Westend61 / Brand X Pictures

 

Google Drive is an online storage solution launched by Google in April 2012. It's primarily used for file storage and backup but is also a popular tool for project collaboration by businesses, school, and individuals.

Are There Official Google Drive Apps?

Google has created official Google Drive apps for both iOS and Android devices. Both apps are free to download and use and offer a variety of functionality such as uploading and downloading files from a Google Drive account, file search, offline viewing of select files, and the ability to share files with others.

The Google Drive Android app can also scan documents with a smartphone or tablet's camera and save them to the cloud.

In addition to the Android and iOS apps, there are also official Google Drive programs for Windows and Mac computers which can be used to access files and sync local documents to the cloud.

How Much Google Drive Storage is Free?

While there are a variety of paid plans which offer greater cloud storage volume, Google Drive does still provide free users with 15 gigabytes to store all of their files.

Paid plans start at 100 gigabytes and go all the way up to 30 terabytes. Accounts can be charged either monthly or annually.

How to Create a Google Drive Account

If you have a Google account, which is also used for Gmail, YouTube, Google+, and Google Play, then you actually already have a Google Drive account and can access it simply by logging in to the Google Drive website or apps with your account information. If you've never used a Google-owned website or service before, you can create a Google account for free following the steps below.

  1. Open your preferred web browser and go to www.drive.google.com.
  2. Click on the blue Go to Google Drive button.
  3. On the next page, ignore the sign in field and click on the Create account link.
  4. Fill in your first and last name and enter a new, secure, password twice. Your Google account username will also be your new Gmail email address. If you don't want to create a new Gmail email address, click on Use my current email address instead to enter your current email.
  5. Click Next.
  6. You will now need to verify your phone number. This is needed for securing your account from unauthorized access or hacks. Enter your phone number and click Next.
  7. A unique code will be sent as a text message to your mobile phone. Once you receive the message, enter the code on the next page and proceed to enter additional information relating to your gender, birthday, and a backup email which is also used to help secure your account. When you're ready, click Next.
  8. The following page will you provide you with Google's privacy policy and terms of use. Read all of this information and then click on the I Agree button. This button will only appear after you've scrolled through all of the information provided to you.
  1. Your new Google account will now be created and you will be automatically logged in.

How to Login to Google Drive

To log into your Google Drive account you will need to use your Google account information. This is the same account used for other Google services such as YouTube, Blogger, and Google+.

  1. Open a web browser and go to www.drive.google.com.
  2. Click on Go to Google Drive.
  3. Enter the email or phone number associated with your Google account. If you have a Gmail email address, feel free to use this. Once you've entered it, tap Next.
  4. Enter your password for your Google account and click Next.
  5. Google will now send a confirmation code to your associated phone number as a text message. Once you receive it, enter it into the next screen and tap Next. You will now be logged into your Google account and should be automatically taken to your Google Drive dashboard.

How Do I Collaborate With Google Drive?

Google Drive works with Google Docs to make a powerful collaboration tool that allows numerous participants to edit documents on their computer, smartphone, or tablet in real-time due to Google Drive's ability to sync files across devices via the cloud.

Google Docs allows for the creation of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides which are essentially Google's own versions of Microsoft's Word, Excel, and PowerPoint document types and function in near-identical ways.  

To enable collaboration on a Google Doc file, simply open it, tap on the Share button in the top toolbar, and enter the names or email addresses of the people you wish to collaborate with. They will now be given access to the file and can make changes anytime they wish.

Are There Google Drive Alternatives?

There are numerous cloud storage solutions available to consumers with many using more than one for their personal and professional data storage. Some popular alternatives are Microsoft's OneDrive, Dropbox, and Apple's iCloud.