Understanding Google Drive File Structure

Some users can get a bit confused when it comes to Google Drive file structure. In this blog post you will learn the benefits of using this cloud storage solution, as well as how Google Drive is structured, and how to use it.

What are the benefits of Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage means files are stored on computers accessible on the internet, not on a local computer. Companies who provide cloud storage are very secure, and store multiple redundant copies of files. Cloud storage provides several benefits. Firstly, the files are accessible by any computer anywhere in the world as long as the user can log into the account. Secondly, saving files in the cloud allows many devices to access the same files, even at the same time. Finally, storing files in the cloud releases the user from the limits of a particular device in terms of storage capacity.

In summary, some of the main benefits of Cloud Storage are:

  • File Security – The storage on the cloud has backups and redundancies that a person’s individual device does not
  • Accessibility – Files can be accessed on any computer by signing into the user’s Google Account
  • Sharing and Collaboration – there are more sharing options for document stored in the cloud
  • Syncing across multiple devices – changes made on one device propagate to all devices
  • Storage Capacity isn’t limited by device hardware

For more information about cloud storage, see our blog post What You Should Know About Cloud Storage.

Understanding the File Structure

The file structure for Google Drive functions similar to other operating system’s file management, i.e. it’s basically a series of nested folders and documents.

The left side of the interface shows where files can be stored.

For all files owned and tied to the users Google account, users click on ‘My Drive’.

Within this section, users can make folders and sub folders to organize their files. Folders will appear at the top of the drive in alphabetical order, followed by files stored in the main section of the drive outside of any folders.

There are two main views on Google Drive. Grid layout and List Layout. By way of example, the image above shows the Grid Layout, while the image below shows the list layout.

Within each layout, the colored icon will correspond with the Google app that created the file. For example, the icon of a blue box with white lines is a text document, indicating it was created with Google Docs. While the purple box with white intersecting lines is a Google Form document.

The list layout gives additional information about the file, for example the owner, modification date, and file size. The icon layout shows a representation of the contents instead.

File ownership is an important thing to understand when using and sharing on Google Drive. The following sections Shared Drives and Shared with Me explain file ownership in more detail.

Shared Drives

Organizations can also have Shared Drives, which are shared storage areas. All folders and documents within a shared drive are accessible to everyone who has access to the drive.

The Shared Drives that a user has access to are listed in here. Depending on the permissions given, users can edit, download, add to, share, and manipulate the files stored within the drive. Files added to a shared drive remain owned by the user, but everyone with permission to the drive can see and/or edit them.

Pictured above are three of many shared drives that we use here at the SDM Foundation. Within each of these drives exist the same type of file structure as shown in the earlier example of the ‘My Drive’ section above.

Users can identify a shared drive by the icon of two heads in a box.

Shared with Me

The next section ‘Shared with me’ does not have a file structure of its own. Instead, this list displays all folders and files directly shared with the user. The user may have viewing, editing, downloading or commenting permissions for example. The list is viewed by date or name.

The type and name of the file, who shared it, and the date it was shared are all listed. Users can also access more options on the right side of the file in the list.

Users can access file details within this list of options as well, for more information about the file.

Options for sharing files, folders and drives in Google, including the use of Google Groups, will be explained in a future post.

Cost of Google Storage Space

Each respective company offers some storage for free. In the case of Google Drive, users get 15 GB for free. Beyond that, users will need to subscribe to a paid plan.

For information on how to subscribe, check out Google One plan options, current pricing (at time of writing) shown below.

Non business Google One Plans.

If users are storing small documents, or spreadsheets, the free 15 GB may be enough. However, Gmail is a big user of Google Drive space as many emails also contain large attachments. If users have a lot of picture and video content in their drive, or use an Android phone which makes extensive use of Google Drive, they may need to purchase additional storage. On an Android phone, Google Drives backs up important data from the device.

For a far more detailed overview of how Google Drive works, check out the Google support page.

If you have questions about our services, just call or email. We’re happy to assist you! Feel free to use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!

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