Google Drive – How does it work?

In this post, I’ll explain what Google Drive is and how it works.  It’s important to have an overall understanding of how it works before diving into the details.

When you log into Google Drive, your computer connects to the place where your files are stored.  This is ‘in the cloud’ which is actually a physical storage place somewhere in the world, in this case run by Google.  Your files are basically sitting on a computer somewhere else and not physically on your computer taking up space, but you can open and edit them whenever you want.

My Google Drive

Even though my files are on another computer, only I have access to them until I decide to share them with someone.  To do that, I tell the computer who I want to share it with, in this case my friend Bob, and the computer allows access to that particular file.

Sharing a file-cloud

Bob now has access to that particular file but the file stays on my Google Drive and uses up my storage space, not his.

This is great but what happens if you want to share lots of files?  It would be just a tad tedious sharing lots of individual files, wouldn’t it?  Well, there’s a better way.  You can also share a folder, which contains lots of files.  It has the added advantage that if you add another file in the shared folder, it automatically gets shared with the people you shared it with.

Sharing a folder-cloud


The beauty of having a drive in the cloud is that you can access your files, not only from your computer, but from any device that allows you access to Google Drive.  For example, from your mobile, from your tablet or from a different computer, like your work one.

Multiple devices

If Bob has shared some files with me, I can also access them from whatever device I have.


Google Apps like Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides have some extra benefits which apart from the sharing in the cloud, make these fantastic tools to use.

Editing a file at the same time

You can open a file and edit it at the same time as other people, possibly others in a team you work with.  Google automatically saves all the changes made by all the people, so the document is always up-to-date with the latest changes and you don’t have to wait for one person to make a change, then another to do theirs.

One example of this, is at our academy where the teachers used to have to email the students’ exam results, then that coordinator would have to enter all of them into an Excel spreadsheet.  That spreadsheet would then be emailed back out to the teachers and admin staff.  Any further changes meant the process had to be repeated.

Now, there is one Google Sheet, which all the teachers and admin staff have access to.  The teachers enter the exam results on the same sheet and can do at the same time.  Meanwhile, the admin staff have access to the live sheet, meaning they have access to that information, as soon as the teachers enter it.  So, no duplication of work, and no out-of-date sheets!

The other benefit is that the Google Apps don’t use any space on your Google Drive, meaning the free 15Gb you get can go a long way!


eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)


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