Google Drive and how to set it up

Google Drive is a cloud file storage service provided by Google. All files transferred/backed up to your Google Drive account are stored in many of Google’s data centers worldwide. In this case, you will never lose your data due to a natural disaster or power outage. With Google Drive, you will be able to do the following:

  • Edit documents directly without having to download and re-upload them.
  • 15 GB of free storage space. A premium option is available if you need more.
  • On your computer: designate a certain folder to store and sync files with Google Drive. Changes to those files will sync automatically.
  • Share contents of your storage on the fly and collaborate with others together through a single file(s).
  • Available on all platforms including Windows, Linux, Android, ChromeOS/Chromebook, etc.

The internet is a vast and open place. Nowadays, people are always staying connected, doing business online, watching live television, attending school. We write documents for work or homework, as well as take pictures almost everyday. The average person takes about 4-10 pictures per day, that’s a lot for a single storage device such as your phone or even a computer. People end up storing dozens upon dozens of files containing photos, important documents, the things they want to save and keep like a time capsule.

One day, all those files may simply disappear due to the computer failing in some way or the hard drive has stopped functioning. The cost of data recovery can be significant and too much of a hassle to recover. Even making multiple backups of your belongings is not guaranteed to last you a long while, especially since those backups are on physical machines that you own and can be prone to failure, or even theft. Luckily, there is a solution to all of this: the cloud.

Cloud Storage

The concept for the cloud is a magnificent one. It powers many services throughout the internet by accumulating resources on a dedicated server. The cloud is another name for running something off another computer’s resources. Cloud storage, on the other hand, is a service provided by companies that allows users to backup and store their files securely through the internet. Files are stored in a special place where there’s redundancy, in the event one hard drive fails it won’t have any effect on your files.

For this guide, we will be going through the interface and setup of the Google Drive app on our computer. If you don’t have a Google account already(if you use Gmail, Youtube, your Android phone’s Google Play Store, you have one), create one here. Once you have made one, you should be logged in upon completion. Make note of your username and password in case you forget it.

At the top right-hand corner of your Google account page, click where you see 9 dots together labeled “Google apps”.

These are the Google apps that you can use, click “More” if you’d like to see them all. Otherwise click the icon where it says “Drive”.

You will be taken to Google Drive. The first thing that’s displayed is your primary storage location. Here, you can upload files, see recently added files, your favorites. You can also check for any that have been backed up recently and from what device that’s connected to your Google account with Google drive active. Now we are going to create a document using Google Docs.

Right click anywhere within the “My Drive” directory and go to Google Docs->Blank document.

A new document was created in your Google Drive folder and loaded into Google Docs. Google Docs gives you a great word processing experience, allowing you the same functionality as comparable word processing software. As you can see on the right is the button “Share” with a lock on it. This allows you to let others look and edit your files. Click on it.

You will be asked to save and name this document before continuing. I named it “First Doc”, but feel free to name it as you desire. After, you will have the option of adding additional email addresses of users you would like to send access to. At the right you can also create a sharable link which generates a secure URL for you to share with anyone who knows it.

You can designate what they will be able to do once they have viewed your file.

Head back to your Google Drive directory and you should see your saved document. Feel free to explore and create files by using more of Googles built-in apps such as Google Sheets, Slides, any many more. Now, we are going to go ahead and upload an file. Right-click once more on your Google Drive directory and click Upload files.

Pick a file of your choosing from a directory and click “Open”.

There you will find a progress bar to the bottom right, indicating that your file is in the process of uploading. Once that’s complete, go back to your Google Drive directory to see the uploaded file.

You now have a grasp as to how Google Drive works from the web interface. You can also drag and drop files/folders from your computer straight to Google Drive on your web browser. Be wary when uploading large files, if your upload speed is on the low side, it might take awhile to complete while slowing down your connection at the same time. If you have something such as DSL, then you will want to start doing large uploads before going to bed and leaving it on overnight.

Google Drive for Windows

Google Drive is also available for Windows. It allows you to sync your files/folders from your hard drive directly 24/7 with your Google account. Download the “Personal” version from here. The installer will download and install the application for you.

Under your Windows System Tray, you will notice an icon with a cloud and an arrow in the middle. Click on it to start the Google Drive application. Click on “Get Started” to begin setup.

Sign-in with your Google username and password that you’ve made earlier.

You will now choose which folder(s) that you would like to sync with your Drive account. You can either uncheck the ones defined by default and select a custom one by going to the “Choose Folder” option below or leave them active. You also have the option of choosing your photo quality for when photos are being synced. Google does have a separate service for photos called “Google Photos” which grants you free unlimited storage, but there is a limit of up to 16MP for photos.

Just below it you will find “Network Settings”. These settings come in handy for when you don’t have the necessary internet connection speed to support large uploads. For example, if you have a DSL connection and your upload is 1 mbps, you will want to limit your upload rate to 70 KB/second. This allows you to use the internet freely while syncing large files consistently. When you’re ready, click “Next”.

You are asked which folders you would like to sync from your Google Drive account. You can either specify “My Drive” or a custom folder as the second option. Once you’re ready click “Start”. A notification will appear in the System Tray telling you that Drive is preparing to sync. You may check your sync status by click on the Google Drive icon.

Once that’s complete, a Google Drive icon will appear in your “File Explorer” menu on the left navigation pane. You will be able to see your files synced from your account as well as make any changes. When you drag a file into the folder, Google Drive will automatically upload it to your account. Also any changes made to any folders added will be synced with Google as well.

You have now setup Google Drive and can now make backups without having to worry about losing precious data!