Google Drive for Work (starting at $5 per user per month) takes the familiar Google Drive consumer product and adds on unlimited storage and administrative features. As a document management and collaboration tool, Google is among the best. Google offers a free 30-day trial, no credit card required, after which you can choose from two plans. G Suite Basic (which begins at $5 per user per month) offers 30 GB storage, business email addresses, integrated calendars, and security and admin controls. G Suite Business (which begins at $10 per user per month) adds unlimited storage (or 1 TB per user, if fewer than 5 users), advanced admin controls, and a secure vault for important business documents. Both plans include 24/7 email and phone support. For document editing and collaboration, Google Drive for Work is a great tool.
If you need task and workflow management, then Zoho Docs Standard, our Editors’ Choice, is a better pick. As a straight business-oriented cloud storage service, Google Drive for Work has an excellent feature set, but the strong, sometimes unavoidable, push towards Google G Suite will add some unnecessary burden for certain organizations, so the service gets ranked slightly behind Editors’ Choice winners, Dropbox Business and Egnyte Business for now.
Getting Started With Google Drive
To sign up, you have to provide contact information, your business name, the number of employees, and choose your domain name. If you don’t have one, then you can buy a domain through Google or another web hosting service. Finally, you set up a password and then prove you’re not a robot by identifying a series of images. Before you go any further, you have to verify your domain, which you can do in a variety ways, including adding some HTML code to your website and uploading a text file to your hosting service. I tried a few different methods and was only successful with the HTML option. The good news is that, if you’re unsuccessful, you, being the account admin, can reach Google support by phone, email, or chat.
The Google Drive for Work interface is simple. As an admin, you have your own dashboard where you can set up a company profile, look at usage reports, manage devices, choose which Google apps your company will use, set up networks, and add and manage users. You can also migrate email, contacts, and calendar data to your account.
Google Drive for Business looks just like Google Drive—the one difference is, the first time you log in, you’re alerted to the fact that you have unlimited storage unlike the consumer product which caps you at 15 GB. However, you can upgrade to 100 GB ($1.99 per month) or 1 TB ($9.99 per month).
Document Sharing and Collaboration
Sharing works the same way as it does on the consumer-facing Google Drive. You can share files one by one or entire folders at once. You can edit Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word files without converting them. This is a nice upgrade, though you can only comment on Google files. For each folder and file, you can modify sharing settings, either making it public, visible to specific users, or to anyone with a link. There’s no obvious way to share new files and folders. Therefore, your best bet is to create one folder to house all of the files and subfolders you want to share. If you have a large number of employees, you can create groups to make sharing easier. In fact, you should create groups or else you’ll have to remember everyone’s email address and risk leaving someone out.
You can invite users to set up an account or add users, in which case you’ll assign them a temporary password. You can also bulk add users by uploading a CSV file. From the admin console, you can reset a user’s password and rename, delete, or suspend a user. When you invite new users, they receive an email address with your domain. All users can access their drive, which houses their files and a folder called “Shared with Me,” which is self-explanatory. You can also view recently opened files and starred files (which are those you’ve marked as favorites).
If you’re a frequent user of Google Drive, then you’ve probably noticed that you don’t always have complete control over documents and folders that have been shared with you. Google has smoothed out this wrinkle, and now users can move shared files into different folders and add files to shared folders. Previously, I often had trouble finding shared files since they weren’t organized the way I liked them.
In addition to Google Drive, Google App for Work includes email, calendar, and other Google software. However, Google doesn’t currently have a project management tool or a way to manage tasks as a team. For that, you’re better off looking at Zoho Docs, our Editors’ Choice in document management and its counterpart, Zoho Projects, which also earned our Editors’ Choice.
Google Drive for Work has apps for Android and iOS, in which you can view, edit, and share files just as you can on your computer. Account owners can also download the Google Admin app for Android and iOS. Android users can now take advantage of add-ons for Docs and Sheets, such as DocuSign for e-signatures and Scanbot for mobile scanning. In addition, for Google Pixel owners, there is a backup option that’s worth a close look.
However, Google Drive for Work also has document scanning built into its mobile version. Using your phone, you can scan a photo and then interpret text using optical character recognition (OCR). This capability also works on any PDF files you might have stored on Google Drive. Overall, this scanning functionality has a comfortable, unintimidating user interface, too. Scanning an image is as easy as choosing “use camera” in the “add a new document” dialog.
However, while Google touts OCR as being integrated with this scanning capability, our testing didn’t yeild very accurate results. Text searches are relegated to PDFs, and if you open a PDF post-OCR, it can show some fairly rough text. For example, we wouldn’t want to try cooking from this best-guess effort:
You can’t tell the mobile Google Drive app to save this recipe as a PDF or even convert it to one later using the web interface. You can probably find a third-party add-on that’ll do it in Chrome, but we only tested the capabilities of the mobile app for this review. Realistically, think of the mobile scanning feature in Google Drive as a way to import images rather than perform OCR operations, especially on a large stack of documents. If that’s your mission, you’re better off using one of our mobile scanning app Editors’ Choice winners Abbyy FineScanner or Evernote Scannable.
When you need help, you can access Google’s thorough knowledge base and community forums. Since Google offers both consumer and business software with the same name, it can sometimes be hard to find what you need. Admins can also get 24/7 support by phone, email, or chat.
Security and Integration
Google Drive follows industry guidelines in terms of security, which means it’s ISO 27001, SOC2, and SOC3 compliant. In addition, Google will sign a HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ) compliance agreement, which is a minimum requirement for using any cloud storage product in the healthcare industry. Data is encrypted at rest with military grade 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption, and information transferred to and from Google is always protected with SSL (Secure Socket Layer). The only downside is that there is no current mechanism for customer-managed encryption keys. Drive also offers full support for multi-factor authentication to keep attackers out. Combined with an excellent file auditing solution, it’s easy to feel safe with this product.
All Google technology is built upon their own set of polished APIs. Google Drive is no exception to this. Active Directory password syncing is available for enterprise users through GSPS (G Suite Password Sync) to make managing G Suite accounts a bit easier. It isn’t direct integration with full account management, but it works well enough. There are also a huge variety of third-party application connectors available for those that need it. For organizations that need more, you can access public API (Application Programming Interface) after a short sign-up process, and have your developers use that to further integrate and customize your Google Drive for Work experience.
Exemplary Doc Sharing and Offline Access
Overall, Google Drive for Work provides a comprehensive collaboration and data storage solution on top of their already secure and high performing G Suite app platform. The best parts of Google Drive for Work are its editing and sharing tools as well as its unfettered offline access, which is great for those who need to work on the road when internet connections are unreliable. It’s also great that, unlike most other Google products, admins can access live support via phone, email, and chat rather than relying on Help articles and forums. All the G Suite components are high-quality and accessible, so it’s an attractive option for customers in the market for a new productivity platform in addition to document management or cloud storage – and for those already using Google’s G Suite apps, it’s an absolute no-brainer.
However, using it to its full advantage requires buying in to at least most of the Google product stack, which isn’t a fit for every business and many have already standardized on other solutions for those issues and have no need to migrate. So if you’re looking solely for a dedicated document management solution or simple business cloud storage platform, it can have trouble competing with Editors’ Choices Zoho Docs or Dropbox Business and Egnyte Business, respectively, even with an attractive price and feature set.