How to Switch Over to Google Drive Without Ruining Your Life

Like they've done in the past with new services, Google is slowly rolling out its new Google Drive cloud storage solution to users of Gmail and Google Documents. So if you're dismayed that the Google overlords haven't blessed your account with 5GB of free storage just yet—don't be. Now is the best time to prepare for the new service.

Organize, Clean, and Purge

If you're a heavy user of Google Documents, then Google Drive will be a fantastic addition to your toolkit. But now's the time to put things in order. Google's search capabilities make finding a given message or file a breeze. But once you start syncing Google Drive with your phone and computer, you're going to be quickly reminded of all those old documents as they start streaming onto your devices.

Various Google Documents can just get dumped into the root folder created on your computer when you sync. And if you happen to have hundreds and hundreds of docs saved over the years, that's going to become a big mess very quickly. So take a few minutes today and purge items you don't need. That itinerary for the corporate golfing retreat from three years ago? Probably not needed. Your Christmas shopping list from 2010? Time to let it go.

Remember, five gigabytes might sound like a lot, but once you start uploading eight megapixel photos from your smartphone, MP3s, videos, and all of the other digital media you like to keep on hand all the time, it's going to disappear very quickly.

Don't Get Sucked Into A Sync

Google Drive is meant to sync with your mobile devices as well. But you have the option of not automatically syncing every time you start your system or plug in a phone. It's an option worth using. Keeping your files continuously synced across devices requires a fair bit of uploading and downloading all the time, which can eat away at your monthly bandwidth limit.

Kick the Tires

If you're happy using another player in the cloud-based storage game—Apple's iCloud, Microsoft's Skydrive, Box, or Dropbox—don't ditch it. Google is arriving late to this field, and it's not clearly better than the alternatives.

Plenty of Gmail users already rely on Google Documents to share files. So making the transition to Google Drive will be fairly easy for those folks. But Google has a long way to go before Google Drive will be able to catch up to services like Dropbox—it's already integrated into countless apps, programs, and online services. For a contextual look at your options in the cloud storage field, see this handy chart comparing how the major services stack up.

But since Google Drive is free, give it a go. Its functionality and features might be limited at the launch, but Drive could prove to be a formidable alternative that might get you to switch completely.

Check Your Privacy Settings

Because, you know, it's Google.