Cloud storage was once a relatively niche field, but now it’s one of the most affordable ways for businesses of all sizes to store, share, and manage files. Google Drive is one of the most popular apps in 2020 because it has excellent free features, as well as paid options for brands that need more storage.
In our Google Drive review, we take a close look at the platform’s tools and how it compares to other popular cloud storage tools, like iCloud and Dropbox. Considering its pricing, convenient storage, and integrated productivity apps, like Docs and Sheets, Google Drive is among the best cloud storage apps for individuals and businesses in 2020.
Plans and pricing
Google Drive is entirely free to use, but you’ll need to pay a monthly fee if you want more than 15 GB of storage. The platform was recently consolidated into Google One, which starts at $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year for 100 GB when paid annually. Each subscription can be shared for free with up to five other people, but everyone will have to share the same amount of storage.
Upgrading to 200 GB costs $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year. This plan also comes with 3 percent back in the Google store and a few other benefits. You can also get 2 TB of storage and 10 percent cash back for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
While this isn’t always clear from the website, additional Google Drive storage is also available through G Suite. 30 GB are available for $6 per user per month, while unlimited storage for teams of five or more users costs $12 per user per month. For $25 per user per month, you’ll also get priority support, data loss prevention, and other helpful perks.
Google Drive offers everything that most businesses need to create, store, and share documents. Real-time collaboration across all devices is one of the platform’s core features. Up to 100 people can edit a single file at the same time, and files can quickly be shared to other Google or organizational accounts.
Google Drive storage is also shared with Google Photos and other applications. You can easily back up data to the cloud with the Backup and Sync app for desktop or by accessing Drive directly on desktop or mobile.
Interface and in use
While Google Drive has mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices, it’s generally intended for web use on computers. Its desktop apps — “Backup and Sync” for individual users and “Drive File Stream” for teams — supplement the web interface with a variety of additional tools.
Sharing files on Google Drive is as simple as adding specific users or sending them a private sharing link. You can also create Shared folders for convenient access; files you add will automatically be available to anyone who has access to the folder.
The Google Drive Help page has detailed information about a wide range of features and settings. You can also post a question in the Community forums for a more personalized response.
Paid G Suite and Google One users get 24/7 support via phone, email, and live chat. The platform automatically stores your support history for a consistent experience with different agents. Enterprise subscribers gain access to priority support, which comes with a 15-minute response time for critical issues, compared to a full hour for free users.
Unfortunately, Google Drive is missing a few advanced security tools. For example, it uses 128-bit rather than 256-bit encryption for files stored on servers, and you can’t set a password or expiration date on shared files. Instead, Google Drive gives users the option to share directly to another user’s Google account or use a sharing link.
As mentioned, Google Drive doesn’t have the robust sharing features that are available with some other cloud storage applications. Dropbox, for example, makes it easy to protect your files with a password or set an expiration date to limit access permissions.
Furthermore, Dropbox matches Google Drive’s pricing at $9.99 per month for 2 TB of storage. iCloud uses a similar system, with 5 GB for free, 50 GB for $0.99 per month, 200 GB for $2.99 per month, and 2 TB for $9.99 per month.
Google Drive doesn’t have quite as many bells and whistles as some competitors, but it’s still a powerful and efficient cloud storage app with affordable pricing and convenient sharing. It’s particularly convenient for teams that need to share files regularly and edit documents together in real time.
That said, Dropbox and certain other services provide a variety of unique options that aren’t available with Google Drive. Whether its real-time editing and other productivity features are worth giving up ultimately depends on what you need from your cloud storage service.