Google Drive -Understanding virtual only vs. synced files

Google Drive is the most popular cloud service in the world. If you have a Google account, you have a certain amount of free storage on a cloud based Google drive. When you download and install the Google Drive app on your computer, you create a virtual drive on your computer, a “G” drive,  where you can create or drop files that will exist solely in the Google cloud, and do not actually reside on your computer. In addition, you can take files already in your computer folder structure and sync them to the cloud Google drive.  Right click on the folder and select the option “Sync or Backup this folder.” Syncing creates a copy of the folder on the cloud and ensures the cloud copy is always  identical to the copy on your computer. 

Install to the same Google account on multiple computers

If you have installed the Google Drive app on another computer, then your virtual drive will also show any file that other computer dropped onto their virtual drive. It is the same location. It will also show files that were synced on that other computer. This provides an easy way to work with say, an at-home and an at-work computer and keep everything synchronized.

Viewing on your browser

You can view your virtual drive using your browser. This allows you to not only see the files you have created, but also files shared with you.

On this browser page, you see all the same files that you see on your computer’s “G” drive. You can add to, delete, or modify files using the browser just as if you were operating on your computer. You also see all the folders and files that have been shared with you under the “shared with me” label. You can click to view any of these files.

Note that the cloud only files are under “My Drive” and the synchronized files are under “Computers. ” Click “Computers” and then choose a computer to see the files that were synchronized from that computer.

List of shortcuts

If you click the little arrow beside the Computers icon, you will then see a list of shortcuts of every folder and file, shared or not, in alphabetical order. The correct shortcut appears in the address bar and also the legend shows the file structure, including the computer that synced the file. The shortcuts here do not apply to files that you have not clicked to open. Sometimes it is helpful to have an alphabetic list of every folder and file and how to find it.

Automatically adding files to google drive with attachments

Whenever you attach a very large file to a Gmail email, Gmail will attempt to save this attachment to your Google Drive and supply a link to the file attached. If you then check your “G” drive, you will now see the attachment has been added to “My Drive” on your virtual “G” drive.

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