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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.