I want to note that this post is not meant to put down the alternatives to Google Drive. I am merely expressing my experience with the service, and a few things I did to get more out of the service.
I have been a Google Customer for a while now. I think that the first time I ever took advantage of the "Google Drive" before it was the cloud storage system it is today was in Gmail. All Gmail users had a certain amount of data they could use for storing email attachments and emails long term. The next time I used the service was when they introduced the Google Docs program.
I upgraded to the pro version of Google Drive, after a family reunion. My aunt was asking about ways we could share family photos with everyone in out family. I immediately thought of Google Drive as a potential solution, and signed up for the 500GB version for $10 a month. I had kept it for a while, just using it as a tool for sharing photos with our family members. It wasn't until recently that I started using it to bridge the gap from the work I was doing at home, to the place that I would be working at the time.I don't want to keep ALL of my files on my computer I travel with. I want to be able to access them, but more importantly I want space on my laptop.
Step 1- Clean up files
I needed to clean up my folders a bit. This meant looking over all of the files that could be moved, and moving them to the desired location. I have three main folders, and under that I had several individual folders for clients, and personal design projects. I deleted as much as I could to leave just the things that I am working on at the time. I hate having desktop icons. I feel like it is easier to have a cluttered file system when you just drag things to the open space, and don't take time to put them where they belong.
Step 2- Create a "Temporary" Folder
This folder will be synced with both computers and hold anything you only want to store locally until it can be filed away to the appropriate cloud based location. Let's say you have a fairly large file that you need to work on today outside of your home base. You can download the file and save any changes to the temporary folder on your home base computer, or your mobile computer. Then when you are done needing it with you on the go, you can move it from the Google Drive web interface to another folder such as the next folder we will create: The "Cloud" Folder.
Step 3- Create a "Cloud" folder
After setting up a Google Drive account, it's time to create your first Google Drive folder. Go to your Google Drive, and click the add new icon. Click folder and label it "Cloud". The purpose of this folder is to keep items that you don't need on either machine, but want to make sure you can access down the road. I personally don't use this too often, because I have plenty of space on my home machine. I do however store all of my Google Docs in it which is especially handy. I also keep a sub folder inside it that I share with family and friends who want to upload an entire photo album for everyone to see.
Step 4- Create a Latest Work folder
The purpose of this folder will be to make sure you are synching only the bare necessities when you are on the go. Create it the same way you created the last folder from inside your Google Drive account. Remember: You can still access any of these files because they will be stored on Google Drive, right now we are focusing on just the folders that will be synced with your mobile computer.
Step 5- Create system specific folders
I have one Mac Book Air for travel, and one custom built PC for work at home. You will want to have folders that are specific to the device you are working on, so that you can easily keep up with what you will need to have synced. From your Google Drive account, create folders with the name of the system they will be storing files for.
Step 6- Installing and configuring
After you have spent time organizing the files and you feel like it is as organized as it can be, it's time to install Drive onto all of your machines. Follow the instructions here that walk you through step-by-step on installing it. Windows users can click here to have it installed automatically using ninite.com. Once you have it installed, and you have signed in using your Google account info, it's time to choose what to synch on both machines. By default all of your folders will be synched to any machine that has Drive installed, so you will want to select only the necessary ones. To do that, pause Drive by finding it's icon in the system tray or menu bar. Then click on "Preferences" to open the window with sync settings. Click the check box that says "Only sync some folders to this computer", then click the check box next to the folder that needs to be synced to the machine you are working on. After these boxes have been checked, you can un-pause your drive. You should now be able to see a Google Drive folder showing up in Windows Explorer, or OSX Finder. You can expand that folder to see the other folders you have created and synched. Drag those folders to your library on the left side of the window so that you can easily access them when you need to. Once you have repeated these steps for all of the systems you need to have on the cloud, it's time to upload everything.
Step 7- Uploading files
Now that you have everything nice and neat and synced correctly, you can upload folders and files by dragging them to where they should go. If you already have an organizational system in place for your folders and files, you can move the parent folder into which ever Drive folder they should be in. Your folder hierarchy and organization will stay the same on Drive. After dragging everything to the final location, it will take some time to upload everything that needs to be uploaded.
That's it! You're ready to keep your folders backed up and secure, and hopefully clear up some space on your mobile machine.
If you have any cool ideas for using Google Drive, leave a comment!
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