As well as providing storage space for all your Docs, Google Drive is a convenient file syncing and sharing service that almost everyone already has access to. That last point is very important when you just want quickly share a folder of photos with your family or some documents with colleagues. Google has recently upgraded all its users to 15GB of free space, which provides some stiff competition for the basic packages of many paid-for services.

As well as the web interface that Google Docs users will be familiar with, there’s a desktop client for Windows and OS X, as well as Android and iOS apps that let you create, access and upload content. If you use Google’s Chrome Browser, you can also sync the contents of your Drive with your browser for offline editing. The mobile apps are excellent. As well as letting you view and download your stored files, the apps provide you with a complete document editing environment, so you can work on your Google Docs files on the move.

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rive’s interface will be familiar to Gmail users and so is among the most approachable on offer

In web interface, your files and documents are divided between My Drive, which contains files you created, and Shared With Me, which holds the files to which others have given you access. If you’re used to seeing all the files on which you’re working in one big list, then there’s a chance you’ll lose track of some if you don’t remember to check Shared With Me for the files shared with you by other users, although we soon got used to this.

Files in Shared With Me are sorted by the date on which they were shared rather than the date on which they were last edited, but the Recent tab makes it easy to see which files have recently been edited by you or your colleagues. All you need to do is drag the files on which you’re working to the My Drive tab and they’ll appear among your own files when you access your Drive online and sync them to the Google Drive folder on any computer on which you’ve installed it.

When you download and install the Drive software, it creates your synchronisation folder. By default, all the files you’ve ever created or uploaded to Google Docs will be downloaded to it automatically. If you prefer, you can choose only to sync files that you stored in specific folders on Google Docs. When all your Google Docs are synchronised, you can edit them offline so that they’re updated when you next connect to the internet, which is an incredibly useful fringe benefit for those who already often work with Google Docs.

Because Drive gives you access to Google Docs, you get significantly more features when it comes to editing and viewing your files than you’ll find in most synchronisation services. This applies to office documents such as word processor files, spreadsheets and slide presentations especially. You can preview .doc and .docx files, as well as their Excel equivalents, but you have to export them in the Google Docs format if you want to actually edit them. Oddly, RTF files can’t be previewed, but can be exported. Google Docs files you create aren’t automatically synchronised with your local Google Drive directories, but you can download them to your PC in the format of your choice or make them available for offline viewing using the Docs Offline app for Chrome browsers.

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