Raise your hand if you remember Writely. A four-person company called Upstartle launched the online-only word processor in August 2005, taking advantage of a then-new browser technology called AJAX. It allowed users to instantly save and retrieve content generated in the browser but stored on the server. And it worked so well that Google bought Upstartle less than a year later. At the time, a product like Writely was unique (the software didn’t come on a CD), and considered a gamble.
Fast forward to today. Google’s online office suite of tools has done nothing but grow and improve. Now under the umbrella of Google Drive, you’ll find a file management and storage service as well as the various web-based and mobile apps. These include: a word processor (Docs, or Writely, all grown up), spreadsheet (Sheets), presentations (Slides), drawing, and forms.
It’s a full suite of tools that now takes on Microsoft’s far more mature Office; in fact, Google Drive arguable drove Microsoft to create online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to work with its OneDrive storage/sync service.
Businesses can use G Suite, a version of Google Drive with all the storage and tools, plus integration of Gmail, Calendar, Sites, and more under their own domain name. Pricing starts at $6 per user per month for 30GB of online storage per user; nonprofits and schools can get it free.
Drive—our Editors’ Choice for office productivity—is a serious set of tools for serious (or fun) work, all entirely free. Consumers only pay for extra storage. But it pays to know more than just the basics. Here’s how to get the most out of Google Drive.
File Storage Is Free, Sort Of
Sync All Your Files
This is the aspect of Google Drive likely to use up your 15GB of free storage, however, since it caters to other types of files. If you run out, you may need to pay for extra storage through Google One. But options start at $1.99 a month (or $19.99 per year) for 100GB. Even 2TB is only $10 a month or $99.99 per year.