Not Using Google Drive? You Are Not Alone

CIO Magazine recently published a report claiming that 80% of Google for Work customers with more than 1,000 users are not utilizing Google Drive. The statistic is based on whether or not users worked with Drive at least once per month. This is disappointing given that studies show the powerful benefits realized when the collaborative features of Drive are fully utilized.

While the report does not discuss why Drive adoption is low, we have our suspicions.

Peer-to-peer file services do not scale — not without some help

In Drive (and oneDrive and other cloud file services), users create their own folders and share them with individual and teams. Each user “owns” their space and their files and to find a file, it helps to know who shared it with you. And, without central management, naming conventions, and other controls, it is difficult to control and manage access to sensitive information.  While these file services are not as challenging as Windows for Workgroups (circa 1992), they come pretty darn close.  Users familiar with a central file structure are easily frustrated with peer-to-peer sharing and file services.

“Security” is confused with “Sharing”

Yes, Google recently announced that Ernst & Young has verified the ISO 27018 cloud privacy standard for Google Drive. But when users think of security, they are concerned about sharing — or permissions — of their files. In any cloud file service, it can be difficult to fully understand who will have access to the file you are creating or uploading.  And, the nuances of Google Drive can take time to learn.

For example, when sharing a link for a Google Doc with a person that does not currently have permissions, you are prompted to allow anybody with the link to view (or comment, or edit) the document. If your intended recipient forwards the message, access is available to others outside your original intention.

In Drive, and other similar services, the relationship between exposure (who can see, view, edit the file with or without credentials) and explicit access permissions has a learning curve that is often overlooked.  People will avoid using Drive if they are worried about exposure and permissions.

The rules are a bit different

Google Drive is more flexible, and in many respects more powerful, than traditional Windows and Linux file shares. This power, however, can be distracting to end users. Having multiple documents with identical names in a folder, for example, throws many for a loop. It’s not intuitive given their experience and it can create confusion as to which document is correct or current.

Using Drive and other cloud file services is different, but you can take steps to ease the transition and improve adoption.

Train Your Users: 

Beyond the basic “clicks and drags” of Google Drive, help your users learn and understand how to use Drive effectively. Cover permission settings so they understand how to share safely and with confidence. Discuss document naming and version management, including how to upload new versions of documents without creating duplicates. Help them learn now to navigate drive, use the search bar effectively, and launch applications from within the web interface.

Create a Managed File Service:

With an affordable add-on, you can overlay a more traditional file server structure onto Google Drive. Tools like AODocs File Server, you can add the aspects of a traditional file server to Drive:

  • Central ownership and control of space, top level folders, and folder hierarchies
  • Distributed access and permissions from a central authority
  • Conversion of personal to central ownership of files uploaded to, or created, within centrally managed libraries
  • Inherited permissions
  • Audit trails

Yes, there is a cost, but the value for many companies is much greater.

Manage Your Permissions:

Permissions are not just about user settings.  Permissions should — and can — be driven by your privacy needs and the content of your documents. Tools like BetterCloud and CloudLock give you the ability to monitor and manage user access and permissions based on business rules and content as it is created or uploaded. Analysis for HIPAA, PHI, PCI, and other compliance requirements is built-in, with the ability to create customized rules for your specific needs.


With the right tools, and a knowledgeable workforce, you and your team will better adopt and utilize Drive.  And with adoption, comes results.

Please Contact Us if you would like information about any of the services mentioned in this post.


3rd of 5: More Ways to Collaborate in Google Apps

google drive
Google Apps is designed for secure sharing and collaborations.  Many users, however, still rely on the back-and-forth of email to get their work done.  Here is the 3rd of 5 other ways to collaborate in Google Apps.

Shared Folders in Drive

Instead of sharing individual files with users or groups, create a project folder and share the folder with the team.  When you share a folder, all work uploaded to the folder or created within the folder, the file automatically is assigned the same sharing settings as the folder.

Project managers can still set permission levels based on need — view, comment, or edit — and you can override the inherited permissions for individual files and for sub folders as needed.

Training users to find and enter a project folder before working on the project is an easy tip that saves time and effort.

If you want to help your team get more from Google Apps, Contact us about our training options.

Easier Sharing of Google Docs; Watch Your Permissions

google drive
Google is making it easier to share Google Docs, Drawings, and Slides (not Sheets) with people outside your Google Apps for Business domain.

  • Files shared outside your domain to an email address not linked to an existing Google Account can be viewed without having to sign in or create a new Google Account.
  • If a file is shared with edit or comment permissions, the recieving user must still sign in with a Google Account in order to edit or comment on that file.

This change actually reflects a new “invitation” model.  When a user directly shares with individuals who do not have Google Accounts, those recipients will be able to view the file without signing in. Because no sign in is required, anyone may view the file with this sharing link until the person who the file was explicitly shared with creates a Google Account and expends the invitation.

Once the person creates a Google Account two things happen: (1) the sharing link will no longer work for new users to access the file and the sharing dialog will indicate that the invitation has been used; (2) any user who accessed the file using the sharing link while it was open and signed in using their Google Account will be added to the sharing access list for that file and will continue to have access. Users with permissions to change sharing settings can revoke this access if desired.

While you can prevent this behavior by disabling sharing outside the domain to people who are not using a Google Account via settings in the Admin console, the change makes monitoring of Google Drive permissions more important to maintaining a secure ecosystem.

Tools, such as CloudLock, provide a means for monitoring and managing permissions, helping ensure that sensitive data remains secure.  Contact us if you would like more information.



Improved Email Formats for Document Sharing

To help clarify communications when sharing documents, Google Apps now generates emails with color coding and new formats.  The messages are designed to give more visual clues to the recipient as to the type, number, and name of the documents.

Shared documents, spreadsheets, and presentations are defined by blue, green, and red coloring.

When sharing multiple documents, users new receive a clear list of document titles as links to open each document.

You can see snapshots of the new mail formats here.

Google Docs: Better Sharing, Export, and Search

It is now easier to find, export, and share documents from Google Docs.  Here is how.

Export All as a zip file:

Select one or more files and then click on “Export” from the “More Actions” menu. Next, pick the format (e.g. PDF etc) you want for your exported files. Here you now also have the option to “Export all your files” up to 2GB into a single zip file. It can sometimes take a few minutes to download so you also have an “email when ready” option to notify you when the zip file is ready. If your files are larger than 2GB then Docs will present a list of those that weren’t exported and you can export them to a zip file as normal.

Email as an attachment:

In the Docs list, select an item, click “Share” and select “Email as attachment…”. Then pick which format you want to use to send the item, compose your email, and click send.

Improved search:

Search for a document from the Docs list as normal. In the displayed results, click on the new button “Relevance” which lets you decide whether you’d like to sort your Docs list by “Relevance,” “Starred” or “Last Modified”.