Google Docs and Drive: What to Love About Them

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By Chris Winans

Chris Winans is an organizational geek and guru (a geeku?). His suggestions on how to get more done with Google Docs and Google Drive are in this 3-part series:

Part 1: Google Docs and Drive: What to Love About Them
Part 2: Make Google Drive Your New File Management System
Part 3: Organizing Shared Google Docs

Questions? Just let Chris know via Comments and we’ll get our resident geeku to help you get organized using Google products.

For those of you who haven’t used Google Docs yet, you really should give them a try. The group sharing and collaboration features are outstanding. After using them heavily and deciding to move our company’s file management system to Google Drive, I have some observations to share that I think will be helpful for people who are considering using them.

Why the Conversion Max team likes Google Docs and Google Drive

  • They are web-based (providing access from anywhere you have an Internet connection)
  • Changes are saved automatically within seconds (no more continuously hitting the save button)
  • They can be shared with colleagues, friends, whomever you choose
  • You decide what level of access and sharing to grant each user (view, comment, or edit)
  • Multiple users can have a file open simultaneously, and updates can be made in real-time
  • They’re intuitive, which means very little training is required to start using them

 

Compare this functionality to your old process: Emailing documents back & forth, sorting out changes to multiple versions, what a mess!

 

sharing permissions

 

Wait a minute… doesn’t Microsoft Word have a collaboration feature? The short answer is yes, but listen to this: I recently took a class on Microsoft Word, and when we got to the chapter about sharing and collaboration the instructor said, “I’m going to teach you how to share files with Microsoft Word, but if you ever need to actually do this you should just use a Google Doc.” After comparing the two, I completely agree that Google Docs is the way to go.

I don’t want to sound like I’m trashing Microsoft. To be fair, Google Docs and Google Sheets don’t have all the functionality of MS Word and Excel. The advanced features of Microsoft’s products are valuable and necessary in some cases. But think about this: how often do you actually use the more advanced features in Word and Excel?

 

excel file

Good news for Microsoft fans: You don’t have to choose!  If you decide you need the functionality of Word and Excel, you can still save your Microsoft files in Google Drive and access them from any computer that has those programs installed. In fact, I still use Word and Excel for some projects, but now I save those files in a Google Drive folder, so they’re Cloud-based giving me more convenience and flexibility.

 

Thanks for reading my blog post, I hope it was helpful. Do you have a question or observation about Google tools for organization? Let me know via Comments (below).

Stay tuned for my next post on using Google Drive for file management.

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Chris Winans

Chris brings more than 11 years of experience in project management and writes about applying that to web. Over the years, he has worked in many different roles including strategic planning, marketing, sales, accounting, and customer relations management (CRM). Chris' goal is to bring the various parts of the company together for a seamless and high-quality experience for clients. Chris holds a B.A. degree from Linfield College and has studied marketing, web development and digital media. He's also a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. As an avid outdoorsman, he enjoys skiing, cycling, backpacking, and landscape photography. He also enjoys time with his wife and two kids, ages six and eight.

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5 Responses to Google Docs and Drive: What to Love About Them

  1. I use Google Drive to share files and documents with clients. I use Google Calendar to share calendars with them. And Google Plus is my favorite social platform. I used to swear by Google Reader, and I hate to see iGoogle go away.

    If I could replace any of those tools with a better one, I’d do it. I’ve tried it. Seems to me the only company who can put a dent in Google right now — in a bunch of arenas — is Google themselves.

    Good call, Chris. But I don’t know if netizens are fortunate because of Google … or doomed 🙂

    • Thanks for the comments Don. We thought of evaluating other options for cloud-based file management, but since our company is already using GMail and other Google products it seemed like Drive was the logical choice.

      If anyone else has feedback about other cloud-based file management systems I’d be curious to hear about them (Dropbox, others…?) Are they any good?

  2. I have Dropbox for Windows, and I find it odd that it’s logged in 24/7 even after I log out of the web UI of it. I’m still not fully comfortable with that, and when I created my account (via Samsung, some special promo), I had no knowledge it would behave in this way, but that’s how it syncs.

  3. I’ve been pretty happy with the way Google Drive syncs. To be honest I don’t know exactly what the timing is, but my perception is that it syncs every time you log in (and I haven’t noticed anything running after I log out). It’s usually pretty fast, unless you drop a bunch of huge files all at once. All the syncing I’ve done has been seamless, although one of my colleagues (a graphic designer working with huge files) has reported some instances where the process had to be repeated or took a long time. I suspect this is related to the processing speed of the computer and file size involved. Generally I’ve been really pleased with it, and if I’m uploading huge files I’ve just gotten into the habit of doing them in smaller batches – seems to do the trick.

  4. Chris,

    I know you wrote this last year, although its a very valuable resource.

    Do you have any information on the cost saving when comparing Google Apps to Microsoft Cloud?

    I’m currently trying to move our company from Microsoft to Google… I can use the help!

    Respectfully,
    Steve

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