Put it in Drive

Have you ever written an entire paper on Word and then had your computer crash only to realize you never saved? And then remember that external hard drive you bought to back up all your files is still sitting in the box unopened? Maybe it’s just me, but this is a huge problem I see happening a lot.

I know you can save online with Microsoft Office now (the OneDrive) but I usually don’t do this. Mostly because it isn’t as easy for me to find/remember where I put it later. It’s less convenient for me and you have to be online.

In this article, the author discusses why he prefers Google Drive over Microsoft for research purposes. Many users of both platforms have published opinions arguing for both sides.

The top 3 pros for Google Drive:

  1. Price

  2. Collaboration

  3. Accessibility

Price: Microsoft Office is expensive and Google Drive is free for 15 GB of storage. There is less commitment required to use Google Drive (I never had to cancel a subscription or have a trial period). I don’t really need more than 15 GB right now since most of what I am storing is just documents and slides. In the future, if I need more space I can easily upgrade based on what storage amount I want. It’s fast and simple. When an upgrade comes out, you automatically receive it. You don’t have to purchase the next new package.

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Collaboration: Google Drive allows multiple users to work on the same document, slide, or sheet at the same time. This is beneficial as it enables users to work and make changes from separate locations. In a group project, the group doesn’t need to be together at all times to do work on the project. I can be in a different country working on the same document as someone. This is huge for breaking down communication barriers on projects. Not only that, but you can use whatever device (with app capability) to access the files. It’s completely shifted the way we store and access information. This is a game changer for collaboration. I can work on a project separately, or we can all sit together on different screens talking and making changes in real-time. This ensures that everyone can see what is happening and how it is happening. For me, this is the biggest advantage to doing group work on Google Drive.

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Accessibility: You can see who did what and when they did it by tracking changes made to files. That’s a huge plus when trying to figure out the source of all the information on a collaborative document, sheet, or slide. A user can share folders full of information- movies, documents, slides, etc. very easily and all compiled together with a wide range of viewers. My roommate is the president of a college club, and she constantly raves about how nice it is that the folder for the club is passed on to the members every year. This allows her to conveniently access all of the old information for the club in one location. Also, you don’t have to back up your files constantly. You can access them from everywhere, on your computer or through the apps. When you are presenting Google slides, you don’t need a Flash drive and you don’t have to send it by email ahead of time. You can easily just log in to your account and pull up the presentation when you are ready to use it. While you do need Internet access to work on Google Drive in real time, there is an offline setting as well. It’s not inaccessible without the Internet, you just can’t make updates that other collaborators will see until you have a connection.

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Our entire project can be neatly stored in one folder that is shared with the entire group. This is one of my favorite features because it allows for so much clarity. I never have to spend time searching through all of my computer files because everything is in a folder that the entire group can work on simultaneously.

However, there are some cons too:

  1. The Interface

  2. Features

  3. Converting files

The interface: might be confusing to users who have always used the Microsoft Suite. It takes some adjusting.

The features: are different- I think Word has better design quality for powerpoints, pictures, fonts, etc. (it’s their standard). If you want to have more on Google, you have to use an add-on or click for more options. It is relatively easy to create add-ons for Google Drive, while Word add-ons are typically less frequent and more expensive. Formatting is easier on Word and is typically more familiar to all of us. The default is to know how to do most things, where on Google I sometimes have to look up how to make changes. Inserting shapes and images is very easy in Word, but annoyingly difficult to insert in docs. It is easier to insert YouTube videos on Google, but you can’t insert other videos (Vimeo). You would instead have to link to it, which takes away from the aesthetic of presentations.

Converting files: is a hassle. The formatting between Word and Google Drive is always mixed up when you open one type of file on the other platform. They aren’t very compatible which is difficult when so many users have both or only use one over the other.

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The future?

Google has more volume for personal users (it’s free) but it will be interesting to see if businesses continue switching to Google Drive. For places with a lot of collaboration, Google Drive seems like the key winner in that aspect. Gmail is very popular so this is just another incentive for businesses to use Drive. G Suite is becoming more popular, as it is often a much cheaper alternative to Microsoft.

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The biggest flaw is probably the switch itself. Employees have to move all their files over, get used to a new interface, and adjust to the new ways of communicating with Google tools. I think it is a positive change to the workplace as the Google calendar has better features than Outlook, multiple people can work on the files and Gmail is already widely used.

9 comments

  1. finkbecca · ·

    Great article! I was an avid user of Microsoft (saving files meticulously to flash drives and emailing myself multiple versions) until I discovered Google Drive. I pretty much use Google Drive exclusively now. You don’t have to remember to save every few minutes and, best of all, you can access your files from anywhere with an internet connection! The collaboration features are also so helpful when working on projects with other people. We’ve started converting a lot of forms where I work into a Google Drive folder, we were previously saving Word docs on a shared server, but Google Drive has been so much easier because it’s so simple to give access to people and organize files. Nice article.

  2. I started using Dropbox about 5 years ago to sync files between a desktop and laptop. Now I’m on Drive because Google provides faculty unlimited storage. It doesn’t sync as well as Dropbox did, but I could never go back to the “old” way of doing things and keeping things on a local machine. Too risky!

  3. Fantastic article and I am a huge fan of Google Drive and use it to do everything now from writing papers to making presentations to storing all my school files. The collaboration feature is my favorite as it makes it great to share things and collaborate with others to work on stuff. I wish that the spreadsheets could be more powerful though as that would change the game! It will be interesting to see how the Drive apps will evolve.

  4. vicmoriartybc · ·

    The problem that you describe in your intro has literally happened to me before. When it did, my mom made a point of saying “I TOLD YOU SO” about how I hadn’t backed anything up to an external hard drive, since she had reminded me to dozens of times. As you said, Google Drive is definitely an extremely useful way to store documents, so you don’t lose them if your computer crashes. The problem I’ve had, however, is with photos. I once backed up everything on my laptop, but forgot the photos. As you can imagine, those all disappeared once my computer crashed. I wish there was a super easy online platform for storing photos – I don’t really consider Facebook to be one, as I may not want to post every photo I’ve ever taken there.

  5. fernaneq4 · ·

    I use Evernote for my notes which also works as a cloud and when I’m signed in on all my devices, I can always access and add to my notes. I’ve been trying to upload all my photos to a cloud drive (around 40,000…) and it appears I have to pay for more dropbox and google drive storage. I presented at Google five years ago (right as Google Drive was released) for a summer program and they were struggling to market their new product. Now in college, almost every group project I am involved in we use Google Drive. Great, informative article!

  6. ikechukwu_28 · ·

    I’m definitely on the Google Docs train; I have been since freshman year (@Doug Rossi). In my mind, all the advantages of Docs greatly outweigh the disadvantages, especially how accessible it is and its cost (Free!)

  7. I didn’t realize how great of a tool Google Drive was until this past summer when Asian Americans crowdsourced an open letter to their families about Black Lives Matter. It was so empowering and moving to see Asians across the country work together on this one Google Doc, communicating and translating their thoughts to the world. Before college, I enjoyed using Microsoft Office, but Google Drive has really become the center of document sharing and file storage for me with its user-friendly interface.

  8. Nice post! I appreciate the images you chose to include, it helped contextualize the comparison. I’m soon going to be facing the decision of how I will back up my documents once my unlimited BC drive storage is gone :(

  9. I have tried really hard to embrace solutions like Google Drive or OneDrive. However I find that I simply do not always have an internet connect where I am working and this limits the usefulness of these solutions. I have embraced DropBox and tend to use that to sync files between my devices.

    Another solutions is that I actually run my own private cloud that syncs and backs-up files between all of my devices (even a wifi connected DSLR camera). The entire private cloud is then backed-up to another cloud based storage solution. Might be overkill and might not be for everyone, but the syncing of files makes my life easier as opposed to having everything cloud based.

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