Make Google Drive Work for You

Featured Videos in the LinkedIn Learning Path: Get Up and Running with the Google Drive for Desktop App 

Why Google Drive

It might seem like some of us ITS are obsessed with Google Drive. You might hear: “Is it in Google Drive?” “Can you share it as a Google Doc?” “Let’s setup a shared drive for that.” Well, there are reasons so many of us are embracing Google Drive.

Kelli’s top 5 reasons for using Google Drive:

  1. My files are always backed up. Since I use the Google Drive for desktop application, I can make sure all of my files–from spreadsheets to video editing projects–are backed up. (See more about the desktop application below.) When I demo Google Drive for Denison students, I often tell the story of how I lost my undergraduate thesis project since my hard drive crashed and nothing was backed up. With Google Drive, I do not have to worry about something like that happening.
  2. I can access my files from anywhere.  If I happen to leave my computer at Denison, but I need to access something on it from home, I don’t need to drive all the way to my office to get the files. Since I keep everything in Google Drive, I can get my files from my personal computer at home, or really from any computer as long as I have an internet connection.
  3. I can easily share files and folders with other people. Instead of attaching uploads to emails to send files to colleagues or to students, I can share folders right in Google Drive. 
  4. I can set access permissions for different people. Sometimes I have files that I want to collaborate on with a faculty member, but I want students to only be able to view the file and not edit it. I can choose to set those permissions in the file share settings rather than having to make separate copies for different people.
  5. Shared Drives are great for collaborating. Google Drive has shared drives (formerly team drives), which make sharing files and folders even easier with colleagues. One complaint I have heard about Google Drive is that some users get confused about what files are shared with them vs what files they have made themselves, and I agree, that figuring that out might take some getting used to. Shared drives don’t have one “owner” of the files. They are truly for collaboration with groups of people. You can even set permissions for different folders in the shared drives to give access to different people. 
  6. It’s secure! I know it says 5, but I’m adding one more since information security is so important. Your Google Drive is much more secure than going with any other third-party cloud storage since Denison has a contract with Google that ensures the security and protection of your files.

How to access files in Google Drive

Now, you might be thinking, that sounds great, but how do I get started with using Google Drive like a tech person? Well, I’ll start with briefly explaining the three ways to use Google Drive.

  1. Web Browser: Visit drive.google.com on any web browser, like Google Chrome. You can do this on any device (computer, tablet, phone, etc) that has the internet and a browser.  Of course, the most compatible browser for any Google Tool is Google Chrome. Here is information on how different browsers work with Google Tools.
  2. Computer Application: Install the Google Drive for desktop application and open Google Drive files right on your computer. Until February 2021, Google Drive for desktop was called Google Drive File Stream, so many Denison users might remember it as File Stream. (Here is the Google update on the changes.) Denison has the application installed on all lab computers. You can install the application on your computer using the link here.
  3. Phone Application: Download the mobile app for Google Drive on iOS or Android devices to access files.

Hidden Gem: Google Drive for desktop application

Personally, I think the Google Drive for desktop application is a game-changer when it comes to using Google Drive for all your files. One complaint I hear about using Google Drive is that users do not like how their files look in the browser. They are not always intuitive, and the structure looks very different than how someone would access their files on a computer. When you install the Google Drive for desktop application, you can see all of your files in the Google Drive in the same way you would look at your files that are saved on your regular computer in Finder on Macs or in Explorer on Windows.

When those of us in ETS support multimedia projects with Denison students, we teach them about the desktop application for Google Drive. It gives them the flexibility to move from one computer to another while still having access to project files stored in Google Drive.

Need Support Getting Started?

If you need more support with using Google Drive, you can schedule an appointment with Leslie Smith, ITS Client Success Specialist. For general questions about using Google Drive, please reach out to the ITS Service Desk at servicedesk@denison.edu.