How to boost your storage and share documents using an online hard disk
Google Drive is a free online backup and synchronisation service that lets you store your files and documents on Google’s servers. It works like a regular hard disk but, because it’s hosted remotely, you can access your files from any internet-connected computer.
In this workshop we’ll explain how to use Google Drive to synchronise files across computers, edit your data using the Google equivalents of Microsoft Word and Excel, and share your work with others.
Read more: Google tips and news
Google is rolling out Drive gradually, so you may not be able to use it immediately. It’s possible to check whether an existing Google account has been enabled by visiting Google Drive and logging in with your usual Google credentials. If you don’t have a Google account, click Sign In followed by Sign Up. Accounts that don’t yet have Drive enabled display a blue Notify me button at the top right. Clicking this tells Google that the account owner wants to sign up, and they’ll receive an email when their account is active. Once enabled, clicking ‘Get started with 5GB free’, followed by Try Google Drive, starts the sign-up process.
Existing users of the Google Docs service - Drive’s forerunner - will find that their work has already been copied over (and trying to visit Google Docs will simply result in the web browser being redirected to Google Drive). Google Drive works best when set to synchronise local PC (or Apple Mac) folders with the Google server by way of a small application that watches for changes in either location and copies them across. Click Download Google Drive for PC (or Install Google Drive for Mac) to download and set up the application.
Google Drive requires users to agree its terms and conditions, just like any other application. Take a moment to read through these by clicking the Google and Google Apps Terms of Service links. Also see the ‘Is my Google Drive data private?’ box at the end of this workshop. The essence is that, although it seems unlikely to act upon them, Google claims certain rights to publish and publicly display any uploaded work. Clicking Accept and Install agrees to these terms and downloads the synchronisation application.
locate and double-click the downloaded file and click Run if a File Security warning appears - no other steps are required, other than clicking Close at the ‘Thanks for installing Google Drive’ dialogue box and working through a Getting Started guide (click Next at each page). Once installed, the Google Drive application creates a folder on the PC and asks for a username and password to tie it to a Google Account. The folder will open automatically (in Windows 7, for example, this folder is at C:\Users\[username]\Google Drive). A Google Drive icon is added to the Windows Taskbar or to Mac OS X’s dock. Clicking this opens a menu with various options, such as whether to synchronise existing online Google Docs for offline viewing and choosing which subfolders to be synchronised.
Updating your subscription status