Google Drive

Related pages

Google Drive provides an easy way to create, edit and share documents.

Tools include word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and forms.

Drive is offered in addition to Microsoft Office, and supplements your personal and shared filestore. There may be some situations where Google Drive is not suitable - see Guidance below.

Sign in to Drive »



Google Drive and Google Docs are provided as standard to all members of the University as part of their account registration.

Google Drive gives you the ability to store files in the cloud and access them from a wide variety of devices.

It is also possible to share files, and folders of files, with others. Any type of file can be stored in Google Drive, or Google Docs can be used to create documents there directly…

Google Docs is Google's web-based document suite, and is integrated with Google Drive. It enables you to create and edit word processing documents, spreadsheets, slideshows (presentations) and forms.

Google provide apps for mobile devices to support viewing and/or editing of your documents.

Key features

  • Document sharing & collaborative editing
    • Share you document with others so that they can view, edit and collaborate on the same document in real time.
    • Use Team Drive to create files that everyone in your team can access, and which remain accessible even if the original creator of a document leaves the University.
  • Revision history
    • Keep track of everyone's changes to your document and revert to an older version.
  • Organising your files
    • using folders to organise and manage your files.
  • Uploading and downloading files
    • Upload and store files or download/export them to store a local copy. Note: there is a limit on the individual and total size of uploaded files (see Google Drive quota below)
  • Easy access to your documents on your computer, tablet or phone
    • Note that if you sync files or folders to your computer, we recommend that you use Backup and Sync to do this. We strongly advise you not to use Google Drive File Stream.

Google Drive quota

More about size limits

There is no limit on the number or size of 'native' Google Drive documents (documents that have been created within Google Drive, or uploaded and converted to Google Drive format).

There are some limits on the size of documents that are uploaded and not converted (eg Office documents).


While Google Drive is an excellent tool, the following issues should be considered:

  • Exported documents may not fully capture all the information in the original document (see the Borthwick blog for further details).
  • Documents are stored in the cloud - this offers good access and security, but may be unacceptable in some very specific cases (eg highly sensitive research data).
  • No access to documents if internet access is not available, unless they've been previously downloaded.

Please note: If you're using sensitive data supplied as part of a research contract, ensure that you are aware of the requirements of the data provider, who may not agree to datasets being stored or shared via Google Drive.

About the apps


Emailing documents

Note that if you attach a document to an email, its default settings will make it public to anyone with the link. If that's not what you want, use the Share and Send options when prompted to restrict access.

  • Easily format your documents.
  • Invite others by email to edit or view your documents.
  • Collaborate online in real time and chat with other collaborators.
  • View your documents' revision history and roll back to any version.
  • Publish documents online to the world, as webpages or post documents to your blog.
  • Download documents to your desktop as Word, OpenOffice, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip.
  • Email your documents out as attachments.
  • Upload and convert Word docs, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML, text (.txt), Open Office (.odt), and StarOffice Writer (.sxw) files (or create documents from scratch).
  • Use with Paperpile for referencing.
  • Lacks complex layout options and other advanced Word features, but includes features designed to aid collaboration.

We don't recommend Google Docs for producing a final thesis, as a thesis will often include features that are either not supported in Google Docs or are better supported in Word. For more information read the Getting Started Guide for Google Documents


Help & training from IT Services

  • Import and convert .xls, .csv, .txt and .ods formatted data.
  • Export .xls, .csv, .txt and .ods formatted data and PDF and HTML files.
  • Use formatting and formula editing so you can calculate results and make your data look the way you want it.
  • Chat in real time with others who are editing your spreadsheet.
  • Create charts and gadgets.
  • Embed a spreadsheet, or individual sheets of your spreadsheet, in your blog or website.
  • Comparable functionality to Excel, with features designed to aid collaboration.

For more information read the Getting Started Guide for Google Sheets.


  • Share and edit presentations with your friends and coworkers.
  • Import and convert existing presentations in .ppt and .pps file types.
  • Download your presentations as a PDF, a PPT, or a TXT file.
  • Easily edit your presentations.
  • Insert images and videos, and format your slides to fit your preferences.
  • Allow real-time viewing of presentations, online, from separate remote locations.
  • Publish and embed your presentations in a website, allowing access to a wide audience.

For more information read the Getting Started Guide for Google Slides.


  • Create professional looking forms/surveys
  • Email the survey
  • View responses in a spreadsheet format
  • Automatically generate sophisticated charts and graphs

For more information read Google's support pages for Forms.

Help & troubleshooting

Help from Google

Help from IT Services

The IT Services Google Apps site includes hints, tips, video tutorials, and details about our popular Google Knowledge Sharing events:

If you're having problems using Google Drive, get in touch with the Library & IT Help Desk.


Our commitments

Service status Live and supported service.
Hours of service 24/7
Service support For help and support with this service, contact the Library & IT Help Desk.
Hours of support Help from the Library & IT Help Desk is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Target availability

General IT Services targets:

Google Apps Service Level Agreement

Service Level Agreement

Service Standards

Google Apps Service Level Agreement

Our performance

Our service standards have been produced in consultation with our customers, and monitor the quality, timeliness and access to facilities and services:

Complaints procedure

If you wish to give us general feedback on this service, please see our Feedback page for ways to get in touch.

If you wish to make a complaint, please see our complaints procedure.

Your responsibilities

We expect you:

  • to manage your documents, deleting any that are no longer needed
  • to manage the ownership and sharing settings of your documents to keep them secure and only available to people authorised to access them
  • upon leaving or changing roles, to transfer ownership of documents that will continue to be needed to a colleague

Backup and Sync

Backup and Sync (available for Windows and Mac) is an application from Google which offers:

  • Synchronisation of your Google Drive files with your computer
  • Backup of other folders and photos from your computer and removable storage devices (eg USB sticks)

This tool replaces the old Google Drive for Mac/PC app, which will stop working on Saturday 12 May 2018.

Backup and Sync creates a 'Google Drive' folder on your computer. By default this is under Users\your username\Google Drive - this can be changed in the Backup and Sync preferences, if needed.

Using Backup and Sync, you can opt to make only a specific folder (or set of folders) accessible to your computer. This has the advantage that it reduces the amount of data that could potentially be affected by file corruption or ransomware. We recommend you do not synchronise your entire Google Drive with your computer unless absolutely necessary.

Backup and Sync does not support synchronising your Team Drives with your computer.

More information on using Backup and Sync can be found on Google's help page:

Installing on managed PCs

Backup and Sync can be installed on managed PCs through Software Center and will appear under the Utilities folder in the Start menu.

If you still have the old Google Drive for Mac/PC app installed then this will be replaced by Backup and Sync.

Installing on unmanaged PCs and home PCs

Backup and Sync can be downloaded directly from Google:

If you still have the old Google Drive for Mac/PC app installed then this will be replaced by Backup and Sync.

Moving from Drive File Stream to Backup and Sync

Google also introduced a second tool which offers the synchronisation of your Google Drive Files with your computer - Drive File Stream. However, we have encountered a problem where if anything goes wrong (eg your computer crashes) this tool may inadvertently delete files from your Google Drive and remove sharing settings in a way that is very difficult or impossible to reverse.

For more details, please see:

In view of this, we recommend that you use Backup and Sync instead. If you're already using Drive File Stream, you should consider carefully whether you wish to continue using it, particularly if you have access to large numbers of shared Google Drive items. If you decide to switch to using Backup and Sync instead, we provide advice on how to do this: