Google Apps for Education provides online storage for files of all types through Google Drive. Using Drive makes sure you have access to the files you need from any connected computer or mobile device that you work from.
TipAccess from anywhere is extremely helpful from a file access perspective and a bit scary from a data security perspective. It is important that you know how Google Drive works, the sensitivity level the files you store there, and use a bit of common sense.
What is Google Drive
As part of your Allegheny Google Apps, you have access to Google Drive, which is in part a file storage account. Files stored there (uploaded documents or documents created using Google Docs) are automatically backed up by Google. Google Drive is a service that you can configure to serve you in multiple ways:
- You can access your Google Drive data using your operating system’s native file browser (Finder in Mac OS X and Explorer in Windows) using the File Stream desktop client.
- All files in your online Drive account are secure and accessible only to you unless you choose to share them with someone else. Learn more about sharing in Google Drive.
- You may use Drive to store a reasonable quantity of personal files as Google provides unlimited storage. If you find yourself storing a large number of personal files in Google Drive you should consider opening a personal Google account.
InfoIf you store personal files on Drive, you should be aware that all files on Drive are subject to the College’s computing privacy and confidentiality policy, which allows College officials to access the files in certain specified circumstances.
Why Drive is Cool
- You can organize your local Google Drive account using folders as you would in My Documents (for Windows) or the Finder window (for Macs). The folder structure is replicated in your online My Drive folder and any other Google Drive folder you have on other computers.
- Google Drive makes keeping track of your files on multiple devices easy. You can create a Microsoft Office document on your office computer and save it to your Google Drive folder.
TipFor example, you might start the draft of your conference presentation. Later that day, you can access the current version of your presentation from the Google Drive folder on your home computer and edit the notes. Once they are saved, they will be backed up online and copied to your office computer.
- You can share a document on which you are working on with someone else. If you are using one of the Google Drive apps to create the document, you can both edit it in real time and see what changes the other person is making as they are being made.
InfoGoogle Drive saves your revision history. If you (or your collaborator) inadvertently delete the last chapter of your manuscript, you can download an earlier version of your manuscript from your online account and recapture the lost chapter.
Why Drive is Scary
What makes Drive so cool, also makes it scary. If you save highly sensitive materials to your local Google Drive folder, the files are automatically copied to your online account and any other computer on which you have installed a Google Drive folder.
Can Drive be used Safely?
Yes, Drive is safe to use as long as you understand how it works and use common sense:
- Do not store highly confidential information (such as social security numbers) in Google Drive. We also recommend that you take the following precautionary steps:
- Be careful how you share documents and folders in Google Drive account. Sharing is easy. Be thoughtful about how you share and avoid sharing documents unintentionally.
- Never activate File Stream on a public or shared computer. When away from your college issued computer ONLY use the web browser-based interface to access your data. YOU are responsible for the security of all College data and student records entrusted to you.
- Do not download documents from your online Google Drive account to your mobile devices since mobile devices are easily lost or stolen. (See safer mobile computing practices for more tips about keeping data safe on these devices.)
- Encrypt files that you want to keep secure. You can encrypt MS Office 2007 (and later) files using the built-in password protection. For this to be effective, you must use a strong password, at least as complex as the one you use for your Allegheny network account.
- Add 2-Step Verification to your Google Apps account and enjoy an extra layer of protection for the files, email, and information you use in Google Apps.