Case Study of University of Groningen

Google Drive is a cloud-based storage service offered by Google allowing users to store their documents, videos, photos, drawings, recordings and a whole lot more. These files can be accessed from your smartphone, tablet or computer; you can also share these files and folders with friends, family, co-workers, associates and colleagues, who can view, comment on, and edit these files.

The fact that Google Drive has 240 million active users means this file storage and synchronization service is definitely doing something right.

While there is no doubt that Google Drive is easy to use, there are some users who are prone to making mistakes while sharing documents. The fact that it offers plenty of options vis-à-vis document sharing leads to some confusion; this can result in users choosing the wrong option, which in turn can interfere with their efforts to collaborate on a project and in a worst case scenario jeopardize data security.

So, let’s try and demystify Google Drive document sharing to ensure you can optimize its potential.

1
SHARING ON GOOGLE DRIVE

Let’s look at a scenario wherein you need to share a file called ‘Google Drive Demystified’ with a collaborator. The process is pretty simple.

  • Open the file and click on the ‘share’ button that you see on the top-right corner

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  • Under ‘People’ you need to enter the names or email addresses of the people who you want to share the file with.

Now, you can define the type of access you want to give that particular user.

Choose edit if you want the user/group of user to be able to edit the file; if you want them to comment, but not edit, choose the second option; if you only want them to view the file, choose the last option, ‘can view’.

All you need to do is enter the email ID of the person or just the name of the person, if you”ve already added him/her or to your contacts list.

2
UNDERSTANDING SHARE SETTINGS

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritties of document sharing.
Say you haven’t shared ‘Google Drive Demystified’ with anybody.
To understand your ‘share’ settings click on the ‘advanced’ button that you see on the bottom right hand of the box.

What you will see is:

Currently, the access to the file is restricted to you; only you can access the file.

But, what if you want this file to be accessible to the public?

All you need to do is click on ‘Change’ right next to ‘Private’, what you will see is:

Just choose the first option and the link to your Google doc is now public. People can view your doc without singing in.

You can even pick the second option where this doc is accessible to anybody with the link:

But you can still decide what they can do with this doc.

If you want the public to just view the doc, tick the last option, ‘can view’, if you want them to comment and not edit, tick ‘can comment’; if you want them to edit, ‘pick the first option’.

Now, let’s take a look at a scenario wherein you have shared the doc with a person:

When you click on advanced, you will find a change in ‘Sharing Settings’

Jennifer Brown, the contact who can access your doc, is shown in the ‘settings’ box. You can decide what she can do with this doc:

3
IMPORTANT POINTS

So, primarily you have three options:

  • You can make sure everybody can access your file by searching for it on the internet (public).
  • Your doc can be accessed by anybody with the link to the file.
  • The file can be accessed by specific people, who you’ve shared it with.

In the first two options, there is no sign-in required, while the third requires a Google sign-in.

You can assign one out of three roles to the person who can access the file:

  • Viewer
  • Commentator
  • Editor

A viewer can view the file, download/sync file to another device and make copies of the file and save them in Google Drive. A commentator can do all that the viewer can do and post comments or make edits if the file is a Google Doc, Sheet or Slide. An editor can do everything that the viewer and commentator can and also edit files, share/unshare them with others, add remove files from folder, upload and/or deliver new version of the file. But an editor cannot delete files or transfer their ownership to other people. That is the job of the owner.

4
MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION

Google Drive is a fantastic web service and collaborative tool.
No two ways about it. But, you must get your sharing settings right if you want to make the most of it. The idea is to think very carefully about who you want to share your files/folders; more importantly you have to be very sure of what you want them to do with your file/folder.

If you’ve come up with an article you want everybody to read, you can make it public and pick the ‘can view’ option. On the other hand, if you’ve created a presentation and want feedback, you can choose the ‘can comment’ section and share it with the public or with a specific group of people. If you want people to contribute to a project by adding to it and making changes as they see fit, pick the ‘can edit’ option.

The great part about Google Drive is that it offers you full control of your files and folder. You decide who to share the file/folder with, and what they do with it.

You are in charge; all you need to do is get your documents sharing right.


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