Keeping Your Files Safe in Google’s Cloud


Q. When I upload a file to the Google Drive cloud, where is it actually stored, and is it protected from hackers?

A. According to Google, the files you add to your Google Drive app or folder are stored on servers in secure data centers. Your data stored with Google is encrypted during transfer from your computer — and while it sits on Google Drive servers. (Many online file-storage sites offer similar protection, but check before you sign up if you have security concerns.)

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If you choose to use it, Google’s Backup and Sync app will store copies of your computer’s selected folders on Google Drive.

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The New York Times

Cloud services are often targets for thieves, but personal security by the account holder is often the weak link. Google recommends using two-step verification on Google Drive accounts to add an extra layer of protection, and it says to always fully log out of your account when using shared or public computers. The Safety Center area of the company’s website has other tips and tools for many of its products, including Gmail, Android and Chrome.

In addition to providing a place to store files, Google Drive includes Google Docs, an online software suite for creating and collaborating on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. This summer, the company announced a desktop app for Windows and Mac, called Backup and Sync, that keeps Google Photos and Google Drive files backed up online.

Google Drive has been around since 2012, and some people have raised concerns about Google’s scanning user content for its own purposes, like selling targeted advertising. The company’s overall Terms of Service document states, “Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received and when it is stored.”

Google’s terms are not unlike those of other companies offering similar services and can be seen as the price of “free.” If they bother you, you can look for a different service with more agreeable terms or encrypt the stored data yourself.

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