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Google Drive

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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.

To learn more about Google Drive and how to use it, please take a look at our Practical Guide to Google Drive.

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 Shared drives 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.
  • Version 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.
  • Offline access
    • Make files available to access and edit when you don't have an internet connection.
  • 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 Google Drive for Desktop to do this.

See our Practical Guide to Google Drive for further guidance.


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 or you have enabled offline file access.

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. See our Creating Documents: a Practical Guide for more support and information.


  • 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 see Essential Spreadsheets: a Practical Guide


  • Share and edit presentations with your friends and co-workers.
  • 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 and our Practical guide for Presentations.


  • 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 and our Forms and Surveys skills guide. See also our guide on How to send a Google Form for others to complete.

Our commitments

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

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. (Our service standards are currently under review.)

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

Drive for desktop

Drive for desktop (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)

With Drive for desktop, you stream your Drive files directly from the cloud to your Mac or PC, freeing up disk space and network bandwidth. Because Drive files are stored in the cloud, any changes you or your collaborators make are automatically updated everywhere. You’ll always have the latest version.

Drive for desktop creates a ‘Google Drive (G:)’ drive on your computer which you can then use to navigate through your Google Drive files and folders. You can also make files available for offline access. These cached files sync back to the cloud when you're online, so the latest version is available on all your devices.

Drive for desktop supports streaming your shared drives with your computer. More information on using Drive for desktop can be found on Google's Drive help page: 

Installing on University managed computers

Google Drive for desktop can be installed on managed PCs through the Software Center and will appear in the Start menu as ‘Google Drive’.

Installing on unmanaged and personally owned computers

For unmanaged and personally owned computers, it can be downloaded directly from Google:

Moving from Backup and Sync

Any users of Google Backup and Sync will need to transition to Drive for Desktop before it is discontinued on Friday 1 October 2021.

We have created a knowledge base article to help with the transition from Backup and Sync: