Most of us will have accounts with Google, either because it’s our default search engine or we made one when registering our Android account. It’s simple to buy into the Google ecosystem because it’s so pervasive.
While Google weren’t the first to offer cloud storage, they’re certainly one of the most popular. They’re able to offer things that their competitors can’t, due to the economies of scale – no cost, large capacities and almost guaranteed uptimes.
Google Drive is a simple and quick way to store your data in the cloud, access it from anywhere and share it with friends and family. You may even be storing some data in the cloud without realising it, especially from things like Android apps.
If you are using Google Drive, are you aware who can access your data? If the answer to that is no, or you’re uncertain, it’s time to review your account. Data is valuable for many reasons and you don’t want your personal stuff to fall into the wrong hands.
When you share on Google Drive, you can invite people to access something if they have the link, if you add their email address, and you can also let them edit the data or copy it into their own storage area.
Let’s begin checking the permissions on your account. First, login to Google Drive and click the cog icon at the top-right of the screen. Click ‘Settings’ and go to ‘Manage Apps’ on the left-hand navigation. These are a list of apps that are linked to your Google Drive account.
You’ll see a number of default Google things, like Docs and Forms. These are fine. Scroll down beneath these and you may see third-party apps from your phone or tablet – things like WhatsApp, note applications, backup utilities, and more.
These apps can use Google Drive without it being obvious to you. Although you would have had to grant them permission in the first place, perhaps you don’t remember doing it. Nevertheless, the data they store on your drive can be “hidden”. That means the data is actually stored with Google, but it isn’t visible to you from Drive and is instead only used by the application itself.
If there’s something you don’t recognise here, or don’t want it to be linked to Drive anymore, click the ‘Options’ dropdown and click ‘Disconnect from Drive’.
Next up, let’s review who has permission to access your individual files. For this you can use a Chrome add-on like Google Drive Auditor or a tool like WhoHasAccess. These can analyse your Google Drive share options for all your files and folders, see who can access what in those folders, and let you remove any people from those lists. Before using these tools, ensure you read their privacy policies.
Once you’ve finished with your audits, be sure to take care in the future about who you share your data with. It might be worth keeping track in an external spreadsheet so you can remember to revoke access, or so you can just keep an eye on who is able to view what.
Take Control Of Your Google Drive Access
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