Teach Your Old Docs New Tricks with Google Drive.
Guest post by Sara Garcia.
My discovery of Google Drive came with the realization that technology has taken a huge leap in my college-aged generation. We have overcome floppy-disks, flew past CDs, tired of flash-drives, and have landed in “the Cloud”–a seemingly magical place to be.
On August 30th, 2012, A group of classmates and I at California State University Long Beach began internships with Cloud Sherpas, a leading CSP (Cloud Solutions Provider) and Google partner. All of our collaboration editing and creating presentations take place through Google Drive. When a business is ready to migrate to the Cloud, Cloud Sherpas provides employees with training to adapt Google Apps such as Drive that will “improve their everyday process and help the company save costs,” (Jeff Miller, Director of Cloud Migration for Cloud Sherpas, in “Five Ways to Prepare Your Organization to Go More Google” ).
For a first-time-user without the guidance of a CSP, I discovered the benefits of Google Drive  one step at a time, with fundamental trial-and-error. I started out using Google Apps exclusively for the internship, but then found myself with the urge to migrate all of my files to ‘My Drive’. I set out to uncover how I could use Google Drive to my best advantage, whether it be for personal or business use.
For personal use, Google Drive comes with 5GB of free storage. Creating Google Docs (text documents, spreadsheets, forms, drawings, and presentations) don’t take up any of your free storage. Additionally, 10GB of free Gmail storage and 1GB of Picasa storage come with your Google Apps account. Once your Gmail limit is reached, emails will be returned to their senders. With Picasa, you can organize, edit, and share photos on Google+ (Google’s social-networking app). Photos that are 800 pixels or under are free to upload, and after you’ve hit your 1GB storage limit, you can continue to upload photos under 800 pixels at no extra cost.
The first benefit of Google Drive is the simple drag-and-drop system that lets you view over 16 different files types and add almost anything you wish to your Drive. Documents can also be dragged into or out of folders easily, which makes sorting a cinch.
By using a free and simple downloaded plugin called “Google Cloud Connect,” Microsoft Office documents can be shared and collaborated on in the Cloud. This allows users to edit using software they are familiar with, while still reaping the benefits of the cloud: simultaneous editing, commenting, backed-up versions of documents, and sharing with multiple users without the hassle of sending multiple email attachments.
Also with the “Google Drive,” app, documents can now be accessed offline. Beware, I made the mistake of thinking that all documents would automatically be viewable offline but discovered this feature is accessed manually by selecting which documents you would like to be accessible offline.
Having access to documents on-the-go is becoming more and more essential for students and professionals. It is crucial for businesses to develop an app, or to at least maintain a website that’s accessible via mobile device. Google Drive now has an app for Android and iOS, giving the power to view, edit, and share your documents from your phone or tablet.
While your documents are quite safe in Google Apps, but Google can't protect you from accidental deletions or similar mistakes. If you really want to protect yourself from these types of potential problems, you might want to consider backup services like Spanning.com .
You can upgrade from the free 5GB data limit to 25GB for $2.49/month, or 100GB for 4.99/month. 200 and 400 gigabyte, as well as 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16 terabyte options are also available – ranging from 9.99/month to $799.99/month. Compared to other Cloud options like iCloud or Dropbox, Google Drive’s prices are more competitive and flexible. Also, if at any time you wish you downgrade your account, none of your files will be lost.
Additional Google Apps like photo and video editors, online document signers, form creators, music players, and much more are available through the Google Chrome Web Store to enhance the capabilities of Google Drive.
As a student, the convenience of Google Drive is impeccable. I never have to worry about a computer crashing during finals week again. Since Drive backs up prior versions of my documents, I don’t have to worry about accidentally deleting or saving the wrong version of a paper, and can access all of my documents from the computer lab instead of having to lug around a laptop all day.
Not to mention, I can now exchange notes with fellow classmates conveniently, and group projects have never been so easy. In class, the Cloud Sherpas interns and I have been able to chat with each other in the sidebar of a document while simultaneously editing, highlight specific sentences or words and make comments, create presentations, and collaborate on video summaries for Webinars on YouTube.
At work, I also find myself wishing I could use Google Apps. A coffee shop is not the typical place you might think of as needing to “Go Google,” but with the constant changes to training materials, Google Drive could keep all employees on the same page. New standard-operating-procedures or re-certification tests could easily be uploaded and shared with all districts via Google Drive. Additionally, the monstrous book of recipes we have could be accessed via Chromebook and searched lightning-fast with OCR (Optical Character Recognition), eliminating the need for “tags”, as well as many fewer paper-cuts.
The faulty flash-drive and dog-ate-my-homework excuse won’t work for much longer with the advances Cloud technology is making. Once you experience Cloud technology, it’s hard to imagine things any other way. Google Drive got it right by making documents not only affordable, but always accessible.
Author Bio: Sara Garcia is a senior and Creative Writing major at California State University Long Beach.
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4 Powerful Free Cloud Apps for Teachers 
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