Since launching in 2012, Google Drive (opens in new tab) has grown in leaps and bounds to become one of the best cloud storage (opens in new tab) services. From Adobe to Slack, Google Drive integrates with hundreds of third-party apps to help you extend the functionality of your storage service. Drive also boasts fast upload and download speeds, ensuring seamless workflows.
Google Drive review: Snapshot
In our Google Drive review, we found that the storage provider offers advanced collaborative tools, file syncing, and intuitive search capabilities, making it an excellent choice for team collaboration.
Despite these benefits, Google Drive is not as expensive as other providers like IDrive (opens in new tab) and OneDrive (opens in new tab). Even without paying a dime, you’ll get 15GB of Drive storage, while IDrive and OneDrive offer only 5GB free.
We were disappointed with Google Drive’s dormant community forum, but its knowledge base articles seemed comprehensive enough. The live chat option, which is available for free users, was easy to use, and responses were fast.
Google Drive’s lack of password protection is a major source of concern, but the company is addressing that challenge by introducing resource keys to shared links. These resource keys, embedded within the URLs of shared links, prevent third-parties from accessing files unless they get permission from file owners/creators.
Read on for the full Google Drive review.
Google Drive's competitors
|Pros||Best-in-class collaboration tools - Generous storage offering - AI and search technology||Unlimited devices - Support for several platforms - File versioning support||Open-source - Several configuration options|
|Cons||No password protection on files - No file expiration||Interface is lacking - Slow upload and download speeds||Interface can be complex - You have to run the cloud yourself|
|Verdict||Google Drive is an excellent way to create, edit, share, and collaborate on files, although it’s a little behind other competitors regarding security.||IDrive is a full-featured cloud backup offering that gives IT managers better control over their storage.||Nextcloud is open-source and self-hosted cloud storage that’s highly configurable, but it may take a bit of time to set up.|
|View deals||Visit site (opens in new tab)||Visit site (opens in new tab)||Visit site (opens in new tab)|
Google Drive: Key features
With its host of features, it’s easy to understand why Google Drive (also known as Drive) is a popular and natural go-to option for many cloud storage users, especially those with a Gmail account. Here are some of the key features Google Drive brings to the table.
Google Drive makes it easy to sync files and folders across all your devices, from phones to laptops to tablets. Fortunately, you can tweak your sync settings and choose which files to sync and which to keep offline. Organizations will benefit particularly from Google Drive for desktop (formerly Drive File Stream), an application that enables you to stream your Drive files directly from the cloud to your computer.
Google Drive’s biggest perk is that it offers a wide range of collaborative tools collectively known as Google Workspace. From Google Docs to Sheets to Slides, you can create all kinds of documents to meet your personal or business needs.
You can assign tasks to team members on files, adding a comment with specific instructions. Several people can edit a document at the same time, although documents can slow down significantly when too many people are making simultaneous edits.
What’s more, it’s easy to keep track of changes in your documents. If someone adds a comment or makes a revision, you’ll be notified through email. Google Drive also keeps an audit log of changes to your document, so you can always revert to a previous version.
Google Drive: key features and highlights
Chances are you and your team use tools like Slack, Adobe, DocuSign, and Salesforce on a regular basis. Thanks to Google Drive’s integration with third-party apps, you can extend the functionality of your cloud storage using these apps and over a hundred others.
Many of these integrations are seamless, and can improve your overall workflow. For instance, we found that with Google Drive’s Slack app, you are notified in Slack anytime someone adds a comment to your Google Drive files, and that you can respond directly via Slack.
If you have lots of files in your cloud storage, you know how tricky it can be to find the right file, especially if it’s not titled well. Google Drive’s AI and search technology make the entire search process simpler and faster. For example, the Priority search feature can predict what file you are searching for when you enter a keyword, and return fitting results. This process helps you locate files up to 50% faster.
Google Drive uses the standard 128-bit AES keys for files at rest. When files are in transit, however, Google uses the much-stronger 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption. In simple terms, this means that Google makes sure your files are extra-safe when they are being accessed, uploaded, or downloaded.
However, Google does not offer the much-heralded zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption. Thus, Google has access to your encryption keys and login credentials, and in the event of a breach, hackers or even the government can access your data.
Google Drive: What’s new in 2022?
Google has a reputation for constantly adding new features and functionality to its products, and Google Drive is no exception. In November 2019, Google made some major changes to Drive, changing the look and feel of the software both on Android and iOS devices.
Google introduced a new home tab and made the bottom navigation more intuitive. It also attached a revised actions menu to every file and folder, placing commonly-used actions at the top. These changes have made Google Drive a bit easier to use, but Google is not resting on its laurels.
In 2021, the company made sweeping changes to make Drive better. Its two sync solutions (Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync) were unified into a single client now known as Google Drive for Desktop. This has simplified and made file syncing faster for both businesses and individuals.
What’s more, file-sharing became more secure from September 2021. Restrictive resource keys were added to sharing links, and people who have not accessed a particular file before need to use a URL containing the resource key.
Google Drive: Pricing
Google Drive is one of the most generous cloud storage options on the market: you’ll get 15GB without paying a penny. All you need to get started is a Google account. In terms of paid plans, Google recommends that users go for the 100GB option, which comes at $1.99 a month and includes access to Google experts and extra member benefits. If you pay annually, you’ll save 16%.
At $9.99 a month ($99.99 a year), the 2TB option is best for medium and large businesses. The 2TB plan gives you 10% cashback on Google store purchases, and a VPN (opens in new tab) for extra security.
|Plan type/feature||Plan 1||Plan 2||Plan 3||Plan 4|
|Cost per month||Free||$1.99||$2.99||$9.99|
|Cost per year||Free||$9.99||$29.99||$99.99|
|Access to Google experts||✖||✔||✔||✔|
|Option to add your family||✖||✔||✔||✔|
|Extra member benefits||✖||✔||✔||✔|
|% back in store credit on Google Store purchases||✖||✖||3%||10%|
|VPN for Android phone||✖||✖||✖||✔|
Testing Google Drive
To better benchmark Google Drive against its competitors, we analyzed its upload speeds, which are a key factor in terms of cloud storage, and the response times for its customer support.
How fast is Google Drive?
Google Drive is reputed to be one of the fastest cloud storage options. We put this to the test by comparing Google Drive’s upload and download speeds with that of IDrive.
Using a fast and stable internet (200Mbps download, 41Mbps upload), we attempted to upload and download a 500MB video file using Google Drive. The file downloaded at an impressive 100Mbps. IDrive was not too far behind though, clocking a 90Mbps download rate.
During our upload of the file, however, Google Drive seemed much slower, although it still bested IDrive. Google Drive uploaded at 39Mbps compared to IDrive’s 25Mbps. With regards to speed, Google Drive is certainly a choice option, although your download and upload speeds can vary greatly based on your ISP’s bandwidth and the processing speed of your device.
How responsive is Google Drive's customer support?
Google Drive directs most of its customers towards its knowledge base articles. We found the articles useful, as they cover everything from getting started with Google Drive to fixing problems.
But Drive’s community forum is rather disappointing, to say the least. Most questions posted there have no replies, and it’s essentially a waste of time if you’re looking for help on the platform.
We tried to get in touch with a Google Drive team member using a dummy query, but the process proved rather cumbersome. We had to fill out a short form first, and Google still tried to direct us back to the knowledge base articles. We eventually sent an email, but the response, which came just an hour later, looked like a canned one essentially directing us back to the articles.
Nonetheless, we were impressed with the live chat feature. We had an agent promptly attending to our dummy query and attempting to provide real-time assistance, although the back and forth was tiring.
Alternatives to Google Drive
For comparison, IDrive and Nextcloud (opens in new tab) are some of Drive’s toughest competitors. IDrive’s competitive advantage is that it offers comprehensive and innovative backup solutions—something that Google Drive struggles to do.
For instance, with IDrive Express, IDrive will send you a physical storage device, so that you can copy your data and ship it back to the company. This is especially helpful if you have large amounts of data to store. But Google Drive is better if you just need a quick storage option with lots of space to spare. Drive’s free plan offers a whopping 15GB storage, while IDrive offers just 5GB.
Nextcloud, another of Drive’s competitors, is a great choice if you are looking to self-host and have more control over your storage. You can tap into Nextcloud Enterprise ($2,250 a year), which adds collaborative features to your Nextcloud setup. However, you have to be ready to purchase and maintain your own hosting infrastructure, a hassle that Google Drive takes care of.
In terms of security, Google Drive trails both IDrive and Nextcloud. Although Drive offers 256-bit AES encryption, it does not come with the all-important zero-knowledge encryption, which ensures that only the user can read the files.
|Support||Knowledge base, email, phone, live chat||Knowledge base, email, phone, live chat||Knowledge base, email, phone|
|Basic plan||$19.99 a year||$59.62 a year||$2,250 a year|
Google Drive: The verdict
We found Google Drive to be a smart, full-featured, affordable, and fast cloud storage option. Google Drive's strongest suit is the slew of collaborative tools it offers. Aside from Google Workspace apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides, you get third-party integrations with hundreds of applications.
In terms of pricing, Google Drive is one of the most generous. You’ll get 15GB storage for free (although it is shared with Gmail and Google Photos (opens in new tab)) and an upgrade to 100GB costs only $1.99 a month. For perspective, OneDrive and IDrive give only 5GB for free.
We were also impressed by the speed of Google Drive's customer support, although its community forum is not as active. Besides a comprehensive knowledge base, you'll get phone support, live chat, and email support, although you have to fill a short form before you can get in touch with a customer representative. The live chat, which is available for free users, was fast and helpful.
The good news is that Google is constantly tweaking Google Drive to make it more effective both for businesses and individuals, and 2021 seemed to be a year full of changes. For years, Google Drive's downside has been a lack of password protection when files are shared. While Google isn't adding a password like Dropbox does, it added a resource key to all shared links in September 2021, worth looking out for.
Overall, if team collaboration and productivity is your main reason for choosing a cloud storage service, we recommend Google Drive without hesitation.
Further reading on cloud storage
If you're interested in learning more about Google Drive and Google's other cloud offerings, make sure to read our feature that asks: what is Google Cloud Storage? (opens in new tab)
It's also worth taking a look at our other buying guides focusing on cloud storage, including the best secure cloud storage (opens in new tab) and the best encrypted cloud storage (opens in new tab) providers.