What is Google Drive and how do I use it with my Android? [Continuing Education]

I’m sure mostly everyone has heard of the phrase “cloud storage.” The “cloud” part refers to the fact that a person’s data is stored on an outside server, rather than his or her own hard drive, for free or for monthly or annual fees divided into tiers based on a person’s storage needs. Currently, there are many companies who offer such a service: Dropbox, Microsoft with OneDrive, SpiderOak, Box.com, SugarSync, and Mega are a few.

For this post, let’s concentrate on Google Drive, Google’s own solution. If you have an account of any of its services, Gmail, YouTube, etc., then you also have access to 15GB of Drive for free. If you need more, you can opt for another plan. 100GBs will cost $1.99 a month, and 1TB will cost $9.99 per month.

To start using Drive, open the app on your mobile device. You’ll be presented with a taskbar at the top with a menu, a search button, a layout changer, and more options button in that order. At the bottom right is a button you use to add folders, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, or your own files. For the sake of this post, we’re going to upload a document file.

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When you click upload, a “Complete action using” dialogue will pop up. By default, there are the options to choose a music track, use drive itself, any file managers present, Google Photos, and any office suite present.

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I chose the file explorer option and selected the document seen below.

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Next, I uploaded it the “Normal Android Way” to my AndroidGuys folder, which was successful. Both Drive and the notification panel will show the status of the upload. People can be given access to the file from the panel or by long pressing it within the app.

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Drive can be used with any file. However, you’ll quickly notice that, aside from documents, Google intends to use it to store photos with ease, too. Click the menu icon at the top left, and you see there is a Google Photos entry.

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Think of this section as a snapshot of the actual Google Photos app. By the way, images can be uploaded in two qualities: original and high quality. The former counts against your total amount of space for Drive. Meanwhile, high quality does not. You can easily change this in Photos’ settings, should you change your mind.

By default, that app detects the images located in your camera roll’s folder. This location typically is /storage/sdcard0/DCIM/camera or something quite similar. Photos tells you which device folders it has found via its menu, but there currently is not a way to add your own folders.

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Once a new image has been uploaded to Photos, it will appear also in the Google Photos section in Drive. Drive may have to be refreshed in order to detect the change.

Finally, that concludes this how-to for how to upload and backup images and documents to Drive. Keep in mind that this will work for any file because one of Google’s intentions is to have it as a reliable solution for the likes of Chromebook users. Hopefully, in the future, the company will add the ability for users to upload and backup files automatically via an option in the settings, just like on the desktop variant.