How to store any type of file on your Google account

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I remember when the first flash drives/thumb drives came out.  They held about 128 mb of data, and cost about $80.  I remember thinking, “What a gimmick – those will never catch on.”  Was I ever wrong about that! Now, less than 10 years later, the humble flash drive is becoming obsolete.

Google Docs logo
You have probably heard about “cloud computing”.  This just means that your data is not stored on your computer’s hard drive, but on another server accessible via the internet (in the “cloud”).  One way to do that is through Google Docs (www.google.com/docs).

For a long time, you have been able to create and edit documents and spreadsheets (and other types of files) through the Google Docs service.  It’s completely free – all you need is a Google account (if you have a Gmail email address, that’s also your Google Docs account).

Now, Google is giving you the ability to store any type of file.  You can store music, videos, photos, or you can put a bunch of files into a .zip folder and store that folder.  You get up to 1 gb of space, and the maximum individual file size is 250 mb.  Need more space than that? Just open another free Google account.

To use this service, just log into your Google account and go to www.google.com/docs.  Look for the Upload button:

Google Docs upload

Select the files on your computer that you want to upload, and click “Start Upload”.  Once it’s finished, your files are stored.  Now, you can access those files from any computer that has an internet connection just by logging into your Google account.

So if you’re one of those geeky people that carries a flash drive all the time (talking to myself here), you really don’t need to do that any more.  Your data can be accessible from anywhere.

A couple of applications:

  1. This is a way to do a quick backup of something important, something you cannot risk losing.  This is actually probably safer than storing on a flash drive, since flash memory can fail eventually.
  2. You can choose a particular file that is stored in Google, and give other people permission to access it.  There are different levels of access (all determined by you, the owner of the files) – they can just read it, or they can have the ability to edit it.  Makes for a great way for multiple users to collaborate on a document.

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Marianne Boretz
May 17th, 2010

This is great! But when i went to googledocs it said I had only 1024 mgs of free storage. Extra would incur a yearly charge. Opening a number of google accounts at 1024 each is awkward for storing photos. What am I missing?

Scott Johnson
May 17th, 2010

That is correct, 1024 mb which is 1 gb. You can have a pretty high resolution photo that comes to a meg. Even if each of your photos is 2 megs, that still gives you storage for 500 photos on one account. If you have several thousand extremely high-res photos, then Google Docs may not be the most efficient method of storage for you.

Thai
May 17th, 2010

How secure is all this info I have uploaded?
Is this out there for anyone to see?

Scott Johnson
May 17th, 2010

No one can see the information you store unless they are able to log in to your Google account. For that reason, use a strong password (but you should use a strong password anyway).

Wendy
May 17th, 2010

Marianne: You should try Picasa web albums if you are wanting to upload photos to a Google account. It is designed for storing and sharing photos, while Google Docs is not (and viewing photos on Google Docs would be inconvenient and annoying). You also get an additional 1GB with Picasa (separate from the Google Docs allowance).

Scott Johnson
May 17th, 2010

Thanks Wendy, great suggestion! Picasa is a great little program to work with photos anyway, in addition to making it easy to store them online.

Marianne
May 18th, 2010

Thanks, Wendy and Scott. I’ll look into Picasa, which I’ve heard about but never investigated. Didn’t know 1024 mgs was so much. Duh.

Scott Johnson
May 18th, 2010

You will like it. It’s at http://www.picasa.com. It’s a free product from Google. Here’s a blog post I did about it a while back: http://computertutorflorida.com/2008/08/5-fun-things-you-can-do-with-picasa/