By Amy Boyington
Anyone who uses a computer nowadays probably uses something created by Google, whether it's Google's powerful search engine, Gmail for emails, or Adsense for monetizing websites. You'll probably struggle to find someone who doesn't use Google Drive in some way, too.
Google Drive includes some of the most popular free programs in the cloud today, offering a comprehensive and functional alternative to the somewhat pricey Microsoft Office suite. As a small business, the storing and sharing of files is an integral part of your business, and Google Drive might just be the right app to handle it for you.
What is Google Drive?
Google Drive is a suite of apps similar to Microsoft Office, only it relies on the cloud to store files rather than saving them to your hard drive (although you can do that too). This means that users can access files at any time and from any computer or device with access to Google Drive, which is an excellent benefit for users who work from remote locations, or who simply want to access their files when they're not in the office or at their desktop.
A primary benefit of Google Drive over other similar software systems is that its simple interface is super easy to navigate. It uses a drag-and-drop method for moving files through your Google Drive account and into other folders and conversions between some file types is as simple as clicking a few buttons.
With any Google account, you'll get 15 GB of free Google Drive storage.
Google Drive Pricing
- Free for up to 15 GB of storage
- Upgrade to Google One for $1.99/month for 100 GB of storage
Google Drive Apps
Like Microsoft Office, Google Drive combines several apps that serve different purposes, which can be convenient for users who need to use several programs (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) to complete their project. On Google Drive, you'll have access to apps like:
- Google Docs: As a writer, this is where I spend most of my time. Google Docs is a word processor for writing, editing, and collaborating on documents.
- Google Sheets: Use Sheets to create spreadsheets with formulas for just about anything. I find this helpful for organizing projects and tracking my business income and expenses manually.
- Google Slides: Create presentations with Slides, complete with graphics, transitions, and just about everything you can find in PowerPoint.
- Google Forms: Forms lets you make your own fillable forms to collect the data you need. This app is perfect for onboarding clients.
How Can Google Drive Help You?
Working in the cloud is a significant part of most modern businesses today. Since you're likely in constant communication with clients and customers, getting their feedback, and collaborating throughout the process. Google Drive groups several beneficial apps in one central location, giving you and your clients access to every file you need, wherever you happen to be working.
Here are a few ways in which Google Drive can help you and your business:
Organized cloud storage
Google Drive takes the place of a computer. If you're like me, you use a PC, laptop, and your mobile device for your work. Since every file you store in Google Drive is in the cloud, you can access all those files from any device. On a desktop or laptop, you can just visit drive.google.com and sign into your account; on a mobile device, you can download the app for streamlined access optimized for phones and tablets.
Upon signing into Google Drive, you'll see your most recent files near the top, along with all your folders. I like to make folders for each of my clients with sub-folders for each of their projects to keep things organized. If you're looking for something specific, you can use the Search Drive bar to find it by its file name or title.
Create and edit files
Not only can you create documents and other files in Google Drive, but you can also edit documents that other people share with you, which is especially beneficial when you work for teams with a lot of moving parts. Every file you create in Google Drive will be automatically saved in your Drive for you to continue working on later.
In the Tools section, you'll find a built-in spell-checker, but Drive lacks more comprehensive editing tools, like a grammar check. However, you can download add-ons from third parties that provide more editing functionality to your documents. You can choose between Editing (making changes yourself) or Suggesting (suggesting revisions for someone else) mode to work on drafts.
Google Drive is an incredible collaboration tool. Since everything's in the cloud, you can share files with anyone on your team and have access to other files that people share with you for viewing or editing.
With each file, you'll have a shareable link that you can send to others. Anyone you send the link to can edit, view, or comment on your files, depending on the settings you choose. If you want a document to be private between just you and a few other specific people, you can enter their email addresses to send it directly to them for private access.
Is it Worth it to Upgrade to Google One?
Most people think of Google Drive as a completely free app, since it largely suits their needs—rarely do people's storage needs exceed that which is provided by Google Drive for free. Drive, however, is only free for the first 15 GB of storage. If you need more space than that (which is possible if your business works with a lot of large files, like photography or presentations), you'll need to upgrade to Google One, which is the paid version of Google Drive.
Google One was released in 2018 to replace the plain old Drive storage updates that once existed. With Google One, you get more storage plus access to customer support, member-only discounts and Google Play credits, and the ability to add up to five family members to share your account.
An upgrade to Google One starts at just $19.99 per year, or $1.99 per month, for 100 GB, which is a lot of space. Should you need more, there are options for 200 GB, 2TB, and even up to 30 TB.
I've had the free version of Google Drive for about five years now and still haven't gotten close to needing to upgrade with thousands of files stored in my folders. The good thing about Drive is that you don't have to upgrade until you see a need to, so I'd wait until you get to 13 or 14 GB to start paying.
Google Drive: Is It the Best Cloud Storage Tool Available?
You'll be hard-pressed to find a free cloud storage tool that's as comprehensive or as generous as Google Drive.
However, Google Drive won't necessarily be the best tool for you if the clients you work with don't like it or prefer to use something else for word processing, spreadsheets, or other file types. Although Google Drive integrates with several other apps and programs, it doesn't work seamlessly with them all. You'll need to figure out how to bridge the gap if your clients use another program, which could wind up with formatting or file type issues.
Still, Google Drive can be an excellent solution just for storage purposes to keep all your personal files, images, and spreadsheets in a reliable cloud and on hand when you need them, and it's one of the most popular cloud-based file storage solutions on the market for good reason.
Amy Boyington is a freelance writer and blog manager for lifestyle entrepreneurs and businesses. After working a few unfulfilling 9 to 5 jobs, she took it upon herself to create a career path that meshed with her family life. She now works with clients all over the world in a flexible freelance career that helps her be both a businesswoman and mom to her two children.