Cloud has given us great convenience. We can store our documents and files not on our computers but in cloud services. When it’s stored in the cloud, we can access our files from anywhere there is an internet connection. While we can lose important files from our hard drive by mistake or when we purchase a new computer, the ones in the cloud are kept securely with almost no risk of losing.
Google, among many, has two popular cloud services – Google Drive and Google Docs. Although they share some similarities, there are clear differences between the two cloud services which lead to different use cases. Let’s find out their differences.
Google Drive is a cloud file storage and synchronization service. It was first launched in 2012 and it has been widely used by people around the world. Google Drive, as long as you have internet access, can be used on Windows and Mac computers. You can use your web browser to access Google Drive which is a web client. You can also use the desktop client to access Google Drive. You can download the app and install it on your hard disk. The desktop app will create a dedicated drive folder that is linked to the cloud storage.
You can simply put your files in that directory, which will automatically move them into the cloud storage when there is an internet connection. This allows you to add files in advance even when there is no internet connection and actual movement happens when your computer can be connected to the internet. There are pros and cons for these two. If you are familiar with Microsoft products, it is similar to Microsoft OneDrive.
In Google Drive, there are powerful features such as OCR – Optical Character Recognition. Using the technology, you can automatically extract text from images or pdf files.
Google Drive Desktop and Web Clients: Which to Use
If you use the web client, you will need to use your web browser, log into Google (it requires a Google account), and go to the Google Drive website. It can be inconvenient since you always have to go to the website and download the files if you want to edit documents (except those supported by Google office suite). It also requires internet access. The offline access feature is not available (because you cannot go to the website without the connection of course). It provides storage for files, so you cannot expect to edit files within GoogleDrive.
The Google Drive application (the desktop version) has the offline access function, which allows quick access. But, since it creates a folder on your hard drive, the files there will take up your storage space. If you want to keep large files somewhere else, this option may not be suitable for you. One thing that’s great about storing your files in the cloud is you can share files with other users. You can control the access permissions on the GoogleDrive website, not within your hard drive.
One more thing we need to know is Google Drive has four storage pricing plans.
- 15GB: The first option is free service. You can store files up to 15GB in your Google Drive
- 100GB (Basic): The Basic option can store files up to 100GB at $2.49 per month.
- 200GB (Standard): The Standard option can store files up to 200GB at $4.39 per month.
- 2T (Premium): The Premium option can store files up to 2TB at $12.49 per month.
Depending on the subscription plan you choose, you can also access different services.
Now let’s check Google Docs. As you may have already known, Docs stands for documents. So, it is Google’s cloud service for editing and viewing documents. What types of documents? Within Google Docs, there are multiple services that let you manage different types of documents. Google Sheets is for the documents like Excel spreadsheets. Google Slides for Powerpoint presentations. Google Drawings for drawing pictures. Google Forms is for creating online forms. Google Sites lets you create a wiki site. Google Keep is for note-taking. Lastly, Google Docs is for Words documents.
To avoid confusion, Google uses the name, Google Docs, for the entire service that covers all the above as well as the service for editing Words documents (like Microsoft Word Document). Google Docs supports Microsoft Office files.
Google Docs is full of useful features.
- It allows you to edit documents on the Google cloud. This means you don’t have to install software, but as long as you have a web browser, you can create, edit, and manage all documents within the browser window.
- You can share documents with your team members or family members for real-time collaboration. It’s similar to Microsoft Sharepoint if you are familiar with the Microsoft product conceptually. When multiple members are editing the same document, you can see the changes made by those individual users in real time.
- It is compatible with a mobile device. You only need a web browser, so you can use your mobile phone to open files to read and edit them.
- You can generate a shareable link for individual files. When you generate one, you can control the permissions of the people who will get the link. You can limit it to read-only or allow edition.
- It has a mobile application for Android devices, but not for Apple products.
- You can create new folders and share the entire folders that include the documents within them. You can manage the permissions for the shared folders as well.
- You can install additional features from the marketplace. There are many third-party plugins you can install to the Google Doc services. With access to these extra features, you can further expand how you can use them.
Other Google Services
Google has other similar services such as Google Calendar and Google Photos. They are not part of Google Docs, but they also are useful cloud-based services. Google Calendar lets you manage schedules and you can share them with your teammates. In Google Photos, you can store and share photos. To use them, you need a Google account.
Both Google Drive and Google Docs provide significant benefits for all types of files. But, they do have different use cases. In summary, Google Docs is a cloud-based storage and Google Docs is a cloud service that allows you to store documents and edit them. Google Docs, as you could see, support different file types. You can create new documents, edit them, and share them with other members.
They are free services for basic use. You get 15GB of free storage for GoogleDrive and free access to Google Docs for personal use. If you want to use Google Docs professionally in a business setting, you will have to pay.
There is no better way to learn than actually trying it. Since they have a free version, there is no burden to try. Try to store some files in the Google online storage service and try to edit various documents in Google Docs.
If you want to find out more tips about Google Docs, check: