Cloud storage is no passing fad. It is here to stay, and more companies are making the switch as the world moves towards a digital future.
One of the key features of cloud storage services is file sharing. Like any of the other options, Google Drive is fully equipped with this functionality.
In this article, we’ll explore the fundamentals of how to share Google Drive files and folders with other people, whether they be your friends, family or team members.
There are a host of advantages to using Google Drive to share documents, and you’ll soon get a good overview of the program.
What is Google Drive?
As you might have gathered already, Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud storage services available today.
The primary goal of this service is to let people store their files on various remote servers, rather than keeping them on their personal computer’s hard drive.
By doing this, you can save space on your hard drive. Better yet, you can synchronize files between multiple devices, and share files with a remote team without the hassle of using email attachments.
If you already know how to share Google Drive files and want to get started now, you can sign-up for a free account, which entitles you to 15GB storage space. You’ll get this whenever you open a Gmail account.
After some time, you may need a little more space. For a number of years, Google Drive has offered their users another 100GB for just $1.99, or 1TB for $9.99 – these payments are monthly.
Recently, as of August 2018, Google Drive rebranded its services as Google One. You can make the leap from your existing Google Drive account now if you are based in the U.S.
Google One users can get 2TB for $9.99 and is also a new tier that offers 200GB for $2.99 per month.
So, what can you do with all that space?
Uploading Files to Google Drive
Prior to sharing files with Google Drive, you must upload them to one of Google’s servers. The company has many servers all over the globe, with the majority of them located in the U.S., which paves the way for quicker data access and faster upload speeds.
There are three ways you can upload your files onto Google Drive:
- Move the files into the Google Drive sync folder
- Use the Google Drive web application
- Use the smartphone app for Google Drive
If you have a lot of files to upload, a useful feature is the ability to upload folders. The maximum file size you can upload is 20TB, which should be more than enough for any document you have.
Strangely though, Google’s native programs are limited. Google Docs and Sheets are restricted to 50MB files, and Slides has a 100MB limit.
How to Share Google Drive Files
Once you have uploaded your files to Google Drive, you may share them with other people. This is possible from within the web interface, or via the sync folder in Google Drive.
Google Drive Sync Folder Sharing
If you want to share any content that is in your sync folder, do the following:
Step#1 Right-click on the file
Step#2 Hover the mouse cursor on “Google Drive”
Step#3 Three options appear – Share, View on Web, and Copy Link to Clipboard
Step#4 Use the ‘copy link to clipboard’. It is the easiest way to share files on Google Drive. It generates a unique URL for the file, which you can easily paste into emails, Slack channels or social media posts.
The ‘Share’ option offers precise control. A settings window will open. and you can input the email addresses and set permissions for each recipient.
In the settings window, near the bottom you’ll see an ‘Advanced’ link. This enables you to alter the permissions and also prevent any editors from adding new people to the document.
Google Drive Web Interface Sharing
The web interface of Google Drive provides users with similar options to the sync folder. You can right-click on any file or folder online, and then retrieve the shareable link. Alternatively, you can select the ‘share’ option to explore the more advanced controls and settings.
As with the sync folder, it is quite easy to generate the URL link, however, it is a little bit risky. This is because anyone who gets the link will then have access to the file.
By inputting the specific email addresses of the people, you want to allow access to, you veer on the side of caution and ensure your documents have a little more security.
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
Google’s own programs are great for multiple people to work on together, with functionality permitting entire teams to work on one document at a time. The limit is 100 people commenting and editing a shared document simultaneously, but even more than that can view it.
When you are considering how to share Google Drive files of Docs, Sheets, or Slides, consider the amount of people you are inviting to the document.
It is possible to edit the permissions, so some people can comment or edit, whereas others are set to view-only. However, if the team is really big, it may just be easier to give out the link to everyone.
Managing Google Drive Files Shared with Me
The web interface of Google Drive has a designated ‘shared with me’ function, which allows you to see what files and folders other people have shared with you.
Here you can view the details of the shared file, including the name of whomever shared it with you. One drawback of this service is that you can’t view the content you have shared with other Google Drive users. As a result, you can soon lose track of what links and permissions you have given out.
A workaround for this issue is to scan through the list of your files located in the ‘My drive’ option. If you find a ‘link’ icon next to any file, you’ll know that it has been shared.
Unfortunately, this is very time-consuming, plus it is pretty easy to overlook some files. With the rebranding to Google One, perhaps the company will soon release a new feature to solve this issue.
Weak Points in the Share Functions of Google Drive
The point mentioned above is just one flaw in the design of Google Drive. When it comes to sharing files online, there are a lot of services to pick between.
Here are a few reasons not to pick Google Drive:
1. You Can’t Set Up Passwords
In some cloud services, it’s possible to set up a link password, so that only people with the password will be able to view, edit or download shared documents. You can’t do this in Google Drive, which makes it easy for unauthorized people to gain access.
2. No Link Expiry Date
A link expiry date is effectively on timer that determines how long the link is valid for. Losing track of all the links you share is quite easy with Google Drive. By adding link expiry dates, the company could combat this issue.
3. Privacy Infringement
When approving the terms and conditions agreement, users are giving Google the green light to scan all content that is stored and shared on the drive.
Google can use this info in their targeted advertising campaigns, but they may also scan for copyrighted materials. So, if you were thinking of storing pirate movies and sharing them with others through Google Drive, you’d best think again.
Although piracy is not something we condone, the best advice for anyone needing cloud storage for something like this is to stay well clear of Google.
Final Thoughts About Sharing on Google Drive
So, now you know more about how to share Google Drive files and folders, and the benefits this cloud system has for you and any remote team you’re involved in.
It is easy to open an account, and straightforward to upload files, organize them and share them with others. You can co-author documents, make backups and sync folders with just a few clicks.
While it is a great choice for file sharing, it is far from perfect. But then again, few cloud storage tools are.
Google Drive is still evolving, and with the new Google One platform recently released, we can only expect the service to improve in the future.