DefinIT Insights

Exploring Google Apps for Business: Google Drive and Google Docs

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Google Apps for Business is a powerful, flexible alternative to traditional desktop-oriented productivity suite software. At its heart are three common and popular apps: Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs. Recently, Google Docs was incorporated into Google Drive, offering a seamless and integrated document creation and storage option.

Google Drive: What’s Inside

The tagline for Google Drive is "Work Together Better", and that precisely explains what Google Drive is designed to do. In addition to providing access to files stored on the Drive to any internet-connected computer, Google Drive is designed to enhance real-time collaboration and data security.

Previously known as a standalone Google app, Google Docs has long been a favored low-cost alternative to pricey word processing programs like Microsoft Office and Corel WordPerfect. Google Sheets and Google Slides function as the spreadsheet editor and slideshow/presentation program – the budget-friendly alternative to buying Excel and PowerPoint software.

Since files created by word processing and spreadsheet programs are by their very nature meant to be read, shared, and edited, blending Google Docs and Google Drive makes sense. It combines the ready access of a computer hard drive with the simultaneous communication ability of the cloud. And it keeps everything in one searchable, safe place.

Like Gmail and Google Calendar, Google Drive and Google Docs are available for individuals to use for free. Upgrading to the Google Apps for Business product allows you to have more storage per user and a more integrated app experience across the company. (If you’re not sure about a paid subscription to Google Apps for Business, you can try it for free for one month before deciding.)

Helpful Features of Google Drive

What can this new iteration of Google Drive do? It can:

  • Promote Real-Time Collaboration. Because documents are stored in the cloud rather than on a local machine, they can be accessed by anyone who has permission, regardless of their physical location.
  • Keep Data Secure. With encrypted connections to Google servers and an automatic save feature, files that are created, edited, or stored using Google Drive are much less vulnerable to data loss and accidental deletion. Should something go wrong, disaster recovery is built into the program. And like everything in the Google Apps constellation, you get to choose who sees your work and the level of access they are granted.
  • Import And Export A Multitude Of Files. You can save files from other web apps to Google Drive and view them in your browser. This includes the perennially selective Adobe and Microsoft family of document types. You can also convert files from one format to another or use optical character recognition to pluck text from images and PDF files.
  • Enable Editing Anywhere. Like Gmail and Google Calendar, Google Drive can be accessed from any web browser, whether it is on a smartphone, laptop, Mac, iPad, tablet, or a desktop PC. So should you happen to forget an important document, you’re a simple login way from getting a copy of it.
  • All the Bells and Whistles. Google Docs comes with revision history (similar to Microsoft Office’s Track Changes function), a powerful search function, a customizable form editor that records all responses into a spreadsheet, a drawing editor, and customizable styles and templates. Google Sheets incorporates built-in formulas commonly used in finance, statistics, and database operations. It also comes with several ways to visually plot data on graphs and other chart types, as well as powerful data analysis tools.

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How Google Drive Can Help Your Business

Using Software as a Service (SaaS), an Internet-based software delivery system, has become increasingly popular with small and medium businesses. Not only are they spared the expense of installation and maintenance, yearly upgrades, and steep licensing fees, companies only have to pay for as many licenses as they need. Google Apps for Business can cost as little as $50 annually per user - a dramatic price decrease when compared to the price of traditional software.

Google Drive has some perks that go beyond savings. It’s backed by a guaranteed 99.9% uptime, and you can add unlimited users and manage their accounts precisely. As your business grows, your subscription to Google apps can accommodate it. In addition, having all your data stored in one centrally-located, collaboration-ready environment optimizes workflow and communication time.

This was the third post in our new series, Exploring Google Apps. Be sure to check out the other posts to learn even more about Google’s productivity suite and how it can benefit your business.