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Where is Google Drive heading

Google drive is heading for production collaboration and file sharing rather than archiving. Google call their cloud based service Google Drive. When you install the Backup and Sync app it sets up a local folder on your PC called “Google Drive” by default. It then syncs it to the real Google Drive… the one in the cloud. Now it gets confusing because by default, the one in the cloud is called “My Drive”, while the one placed on your local PC is called Google Drive. Neither are really drives, they are both just folders. Google Drive is Google’s branding.

I renamed my local PC synced folder “Google synced elements”, as ‘Google Drive’ confused me when trying to follow tutorials and guides. Anything in it is two-way synced to the cloud “My Drive” folder. Now with the Backup and Sync app upgrade from Google, a back up (one-way) sync is offered in addition to the conventional sync (two-way). This allows me to one-way sync any local folder to the cloud, but not to sync the cloud back to my local folder. It does not sync to the “My Drive” folder in the cloud either, but rather to another folder Google creates on your cloud space called “Computers”.

So what I have now is two individual cloud syncs sharing the one allocation of cloud memory. One is two-way sync, the other one-way sync. One syncs to “My Drive” folder in the cloud, the other to “Computers”, in the same cloud space (often referred to as the Google Drive… just as well I changed the name of the local PC synced folder rather than leaving it as Google Drive, because we are referring to the Google Drive Brand in the cloud here, not the local PC folder). To be a true backup we can’t have two-way sync enabled.

The way Google have presented their technology is from the viewpoint that the cloud based files are for sharing or accessible from any connected PC or device allowing collaborative editing. These cloud based files are therefor working files, not backups. Backing up cloud based documents is a matter of just downloading them to a backups folder on your local system after editing them. However their system is so flexible that it can be utilised in the conventional way as well, where your local files are your working documents that can be backup synced to the cloud. You only enable the one-way sync for backing up. When complete it is unsynced again. The sync and unsync options are contained in the Google Backup and Sync application preferences. They have not provided any archiving functionality though, just provision for duplicate backups.

To configure your work structure so that your working files are in the cloud, you will have to adapt to using Google applications to edit them. It is a great concept when you don’t wish to carry a PC around with you and need a bigger screen and keyboard than mobile devices currently offer, but can get to a PC to undertake your work. All you have to do is have an online connection so you can log into your Google cloud account from anywhere in the world and away you go. It also allows a team access for collaborative editing sessions.

Google has done a good job in providing conversion and editing tools for most Microsoft Office applications and file formats. It can convert word documents to Google write documents that can be edited in the cloud through the Google write application, which is a free plugin for the Chrome browser. After editing, it provides options to download the edited document in a number of document formats including Word .docx files. The same opportunities are provided for spreadsheet, drawing/graphic, photo editing and presentation documents, like Powerpoint… all can be edited from in the cloud through new Google editing applications devoid of all the bloating that you find in Microsoft Office applications. The learning curve on Google’s cloud applications is far less than for Microsoft Office. That being said, MS Office has more depth for very intricate advanced operations that many will never use—hence the bloating.

That aside, working conventionally on local documents, using locally installed applications is still an option. Local file editing means working directly on your backup copy under the new Google structure, which will sync back to the cloud based working file. Any editing mistakes applied to the local backup file is synced to the cloud based working copy. This is obviously not good. To prevent this you need to open your Google Backup and Sync app preferences and unsync these two folders before commencing any work on your local file version (the backup file). Once you are satisfied with the editing on the local files, you can resync these folders again to have the working file in the cloud updated.

If choosing to work this conventional way, you need to get it straight in your mind that the cloud copy that was the work document described previously, is now once again the backup copy and the local folder copy that was previously the backup copy is now the work copy. The local folder should only be one-way synced to the cloud folder for the purpose of backing up. Now it is a restoration that will require a download from the cloud to a local folder (sync is not used).

Google also offers free unlimited space in the cloud to store images and video files, as long as you select high resolution (1080 x 1920 px HD) and not full resolution or the original size. If you select full resolution their file sizes will be counted towards your limited general Google drive storage.

Presently I personally are not using any one-way backups for images and videos. I upload my high resolution images and videos to my Google Photos account manually. They are not synced. I edit them first to the correct size and resolution then upload the resulting copies to allow controlled sharing. I have no reason to share full print resolution images. They stay in my master files library on local drives.

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