“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford
The model of how we collaborate is changing. Devices and application are continually being created and improved that help you put together documents, quickly schedule meetings and chat with your work community. Today’s collaboration environment includes tools for text chats, video conferencing, screen sharing and scheduling meetings. Among the many options currently available is Google Drive. This is a file storage and synchronisation service created by Google which allows you to store files in the cloud, share files, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with collaborators.
Google Drive can be accessed in your browser at drive.google.com. You can also download the software so your computers, tables and smartphones which is great if you want to easily access your Google Drive files online or offline. It is also easy to access to your files across multiple devices.
Google Drive software is available for:
- PCs running Windows XP or later
- Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or higher
- Android smartphones and tablets with Android 2.1 (Eclair) or higher
- iPhones and iPads with iOS 5.0 or higher
Why use Google Drive
Here are 7 reasons I believe you should give Google Drive a try:
1. Perfect syncing
Changes to a document in Google Docs are synced to the cloud near instantaneously. You can be editing a document on your phone then look at it on the computer two seconds later and the updates should be there. You can also have the document open in both places at the same time if required,
2. Work collaboratively in real-time
Work collaboratively with others by sharing viewing and editing access to presentations, spreadsheets, documents, drawings and folders. Multiple users can read the same file at once and when someone is editing your file, you can see their curser as they make changes or highlight text. No more conflicting copies.
3. Automatically saved
All your changes are automatically saved as you type. You can also use revision history to see old versions of the same file, sorted by date and who made the changes.
4. Work from any computer with Internet access
Never worry about leaving your USB or computer at home again. Any computer, or mobile device can access your files via the browser.
5. Communicate while collaborating
Not only can you see who is collaborating on a file in the upper right corner as you work, you can also send them messages. If you click the little word balloon icon, it creates an instant chat that’s just for that document.
6. Direct share files via Gmail
If you use Gmail and Google Drive, you can send up to 10 Gigabytes worth of files by inserting the files into a Gmail message by clicking File > Email as an attachment then selecting the file type you want to send. You can select to send any of your files as PDF’s just by select this option in the popup window.
7. Collect data
In Forms, you can set up a poll, survey, quiz and share it. The data that’s collected is inserted into a Sheets spreadsheet file.
Some Google Drive tips
Instant table of contents
Be sure to utilise Styles for the text headings in Docs—you access Styles from the Format Menu, or the toolbar. You can then view an outline of your document in the left side of your computer screen by going to Tools > Document outline.
Provided you have a working microphone to your desktop, you can speak and Google Docs will type as you talk. Open a document in Google Docs with a Chrome browser. Click Tools > Voice typing. When you’re ready to speak, click the microphone icon. Speak clearly, at a normal volume and pace.
No matter what Drive app you’re in, even in the main Google Drive page, just type Ctrl+/ (PC)or Command+/ (Mac) and the shortcut menu will reveal every keyboard option available.
You can sort your files into folders and subfolders. However, if you can’t find what you are looking for, use the search function at the top of the window. Your search can be refined by categories such as file type, date modified, has the words, shared with and item name.
How much space?
Google gives every user 15 GB of free online storage space, which is shared across three of its most-used services, Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos. You can purchase more storage on a monthly subscription ranging from at $2.49 for 100GB to $374.99 for 30TB.
How secure is your data?
When using cloud storage, your data is no longer physically in your possession. Any time you send your data anywhere on the internet, you’re assuming risk. If you value a high level of privacy, Google Drive probably won’t be for you. However, there are steps you can take to help safeguard your data.
- Create strong passwords
- Protect your account with 2-Step Verification. Each time you sign in to your Google Account, you will need your password and a verification code so even if someone else gets your password, it won’t be enough to sign in to your account. When you log in to your Google account, Google sends a text or voice message containing a short code to a phone number that you’ve certified is yours.
- Google provides users with information that lets you see if any recent logins came from an unusual location or occurred at an unusual time.
- Never use your Google Drive account when you’re on an unsecured wireless network. If you find yourself on an unsecured network, turn Wi-Fi off on the device and use your carrier’s 4G network.
- Be aware of apps and services that you allow permission to. In some instances, you give permission to those apps and services to view/read data on your Google Drive account. Always keep this in check and do not leave hanging permissions for apps and devices no longer in use. To view (and change) what has access permissions to your account, go to google.com, click the Security tab, click View All (under Account permissions), and then go through the list. You can click on a service/app/device, and then click Revoke access.
- Google Drive makes it very easy to share files and folders but careless use can lead to an insecure account. Only share with people you completely trust. Never blindly share out files or folders. Share as view-only, unless a specific user needs write access. Revoke sharing rights when they are no longer needed.
- Back up the data you store in Google Drive. This can be done a few ways. You can download individual files or folders from your browser to your computer. Alternatively, you can by install Google Drive on your computer then use a third-party backup provider such as CrashPlan to automatically make backups that can be stored where you choose such as an external hard drive or another cloud location.
Here is a section from the Google Drive License Agreement that might effect what you decide to use this service for:
Your Content in our Services: When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content… The rights that you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing that you have added to Google Maps).
Google Drive allows you to keep track of modifications made to files, in a collaborative environment so you can share and collaborate your work among other team members and clients in real time. How you use Google Drive will depend on your needs. It is great for files that will require internal or external collaboration. It’s especially helpful for anything that is designed to be updated regularly like Editorial Calendars, checklists, or documents that will go through a multiple rounds of editing.
Are you ready to give Google Drive a try? Visit the Google Drive home page and follow the prompts.
If you’re using Google Drive and have additional ideas or tips to share about collaboration, leave your comments below.