Google has reduced the cost of Google Drive and is promising to add some really neat features to the online storage service.

Drive has been around for years now but has changed relatively little since launch; it lets you upload files, create files, share files, etc. However, Google's just switched up the service's pricing plans, giving them their very own brand (Google One), and it's bundling some nice-to-haves like live expert support and - eventually - subscriber perks. Here's what you need to know about Google Drive and Google One.

Google Drive is Google's cloud-storage service for consumers and G Suite customers (enterprises and schools). For consumers, it's a free way to keep your files backed up to the cloud and easily accessible from any device. You need a Google account to use Google Drive, and to start, Google gives you 15GB of storage – for free - so you can safely keep photos, stories, drawings, recordings, videos, anything really.

Best of all, Google Drive is encrypted using SSL, the same security protocol used on Gmail and other Google services.

Here's Google Drive's key features for consumers:

  • Store files: Drive starts you with 15GB of free online storage. You can store a wide range of file types and folders - even Office files.
  • Create files: You can create create documents and files on the fly with integrated Docs, Sheets and Slides apps.
  • Access your files from anywhere: Your files in Drive can be reached from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Share with others: You can quickly invite others to view, download, and comment and collaborate on your files in Drive.
  • Work offline: If you aren't connected to the internet, you can make some files available offline to view and edit (see how here).
  • See old versions: You can look back as far as 30 days on most file types, making it easy to see changes and go back to previous versions.
  • Search: Drive can recognise objects in your images and text in scanned documents - just enter a keyword in the search bar.
  • Google Photos: You can store your photos in Drive and then access them and edit them with Google Photos.
  • Scan documents: The Android app lets you scan all your paper documents as PDF - just snap a photo of it.
  • Save Gmail attachments: Hover over an attachment in Gmail and look for the Drive logo to save any attachment to your Drive.
  • Drive apps: You can do everything from edit a profile photo to create a mind map, with over 100 integrated apps.
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First, create or sign into your Google Account. Then, if you're a consumer, do the following:

  1. Go to drive.google.com. You’ll see "My Drive," which has your files and folders you uploaded or synced, including any Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Forms you created.
  2. If you don't see any files in your Drive, then go ahead and upload files from your computer (see how here) or create files in Drive (see how here). You can even work with Microsoft Office files in Drive (see how here).
  3. You can then share your files or folders in Drive (see how here and here, respectively), so other people can view, edit, or comment on them.
  1. On your Android device, find and open the Google Drive app.
  2. You’ll see "My Drive," which has your files and folders you uploaded or synced, including any Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Forms you created.
  3. If you don't see any files in your Drive, then go ahead and upload files from your computer (see how here) or create files in Drive (see how here). You can even work with Microsoft Office files in Drive (see how here).
  4. You can then share your files or folders in Drive (see how here and here, respectively), so other people can view, edit, or comment on them.
  1. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Google Drive app.
  2. You’ll see "My Drive," which has your files and folders you uploaded or synced, including any Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Forms you created.
  3. If you don't see any files in your Drive, then go ahead and upload files from your computer (see how here) or create files in Drive (see how here). You can even work with Microsoft Office files in Drive (see how here).
  4. You can then share your files or folders in Drive (see how here and here, respectively), so other people can view, edit, or comment on them.

Google offers a Backup and Sync tool for consumers. You can download and use it on a Windows PC or Mac in order to easily upload and store files from any folder on your computer, camera, and SD cards. You can also use it to find your content on any phone, tablet, or computer using Google Drive, and your photos and videos in Google Photos. Google offers a similar tool, Drive File Stream, G Suite customers.

Here are the key features of Backup and Sync:

  1. Browse and view files from drive.google.com in the Google Drive folder on your computer.
  2. Open, organize, and make changes to any of your files.
  3. Any changes you make to files will sync everywhere.

As of April 2018, here are some of the pricing plans consumers can select:

  1. 15GB of storage for free
  2. 100GB plan for $1.99 (£1.99) per month
  3. 1TB of storage for $9.99 (£8.99) per month
  4. 10TB of storage for $99.99 (£99.99) per month
  5. 20TB of storage for $199.99 (£199.99) per month
  6. 30TB for $299.99 (£299.99) per month

Note 1: Google Drive is also built-in to Chromebooks. And if you own certain Chromebook models, you'll get 100GB of free storage for two years, rather than the basic 15GB storage allotment. See Pocket-lint's Chromebook tips and tricks here.

Note 2: In mid-2018, Google will change its Drive pricing (see below).

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In May 2018, Google reworked its consumer storage plans by adding a new $2.99 per month tier for 200GB of storage. It also dropped the price of its 2TB plan from $19.99 per month to $9.99 per month. Sadly, it completely ditched the old 1TB (for $9.99 per month) plan. As part of this change, Google rebranded its consumer storage plans (but not Google Drive, oddly) to “Google One.”

But that's not all, with Google One, you’ll be able to share your storage quota with up to five family members. Another included feature is free one-tap access to live experts for help with any Google consumer product and service (Google already offered 24/7 support to G Suite customers). In the US, support will be available 24/7 over chat, email, and phone. In other countries, support options vary.

In addition, Google told TechCrunch it plans to provide subscribers with other benefits over time, including discounts on hotels you find in Google Search, preferred rates for other Google services, or credits on Google Play. “We hope to build those out over time,” Google said. It also told TechCrunch that it will roll out a new Android app to help users manage their plan - but not their files.

Note: We've contacted Google for UK pricing and will update soon.

If you have a paid Drive storage plan, you’ll be upgraded to Google One automatically over the coming months, starting in the US. Google said Google One will expand globally after that. If you’d like to be notified when Google One becomes available, sign up for an update.

If you'd like to know more, check out the Google Drive website, or see the Help Center for Drive or Google Drive Help Forum.