How to Upload to Google Drive in 2021: Moving Your Files to the Cloud

Getting access to 15GB of free Google Drive storage space is as simple as creating a Gmail account, but using it to its full potential is a little harder. This guide will walk you through the three best ways to upload to Google Drive.

Robin Barber
By Robin Barber (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-07-13T16:09:49+00:00

Cloud storage is a useful tool if you want to protect your files from accidental data deletion or physical damage to the hard drive. However, if you want to upload your precious holiday pictures or important work documents, you’ll first need to learn how. In this article, we’ll show you three different ways to upload a file to Google Drive easily.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Google Drive website is the easiest way to upload your files.
  • The Google Drive Backup and Sync app lets you sync files from your desktop.
  • The Google Drive mobile app lets you view and upload files from your phone.

Whether you want to upload image, audio, video or text files, these three methods will help you move everything important to your Drive. You can then access them from any computer — or even a mobile device — as long as it has an internet connection. 

  • Google Drive is the cloud storage service run by Google, and it allows you to upload files to a remote server.

  • As Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos share storage space, Google calls the single subscription for all three “Google One.” This gives you extra space, expert help and access to additional features like “family groups” for all three services, wrapped up in one subscription.

  • Google Drive will store any file, regardless of type, as long as it’s under 5TB.

  • You can drag and drop files into Google Drive as if it was another folder on your hard drive. Just open both the Google Drive web client and Windows File Explorer, then drag the file across.

  • You can upload files to a shared Google Drive as if it were any other folder. You should make sure you have the ability to create new files before you begin, and once you’re done, make sure the permissions are correct.

How to Upload to Google Drive the Easy Way 

One benefit to using Google Drive is that its website is very user-friendly and has more features than the “Backup and Sync” desktop app — which you can read about in our full Google Drive review. This means that uploading files is easy. Just open up your web browser, make sure your file is ready for you to move it and then follow these three steps. 

  1. Go to the Google Drive Website

    Enter drive.google.com and make sure you’re signed into the correct Google account by clicking on the profile picture in the top-right corner. Then select “my drive” on the left of the browser window.

    google drive browser my drive
  2. Find Your Files in Windows File Explorer

    Open Windows File Explorer and find the files you want to upload to your Drive.

    google drive browser find your file
  3. Click and Drag Each File Into Your Drive

    Drag and drop the files across, either one at a time or by selecting multiple to copy them all. You can also drag it into a specific folder in your Drive.

    google drive browser drag and drop

How to Upload Files to Google Drive on Desktop 

If you prefer to work in apps on your computer — or you just don’t want to open Chrome every time you need to sync a file — then you should use the Google Drive Backup and Sync app. Note that Google is moving from “Backup and Sync” to “Drive for Desktop,” but for now, these steps will help you sync files from your desktop. 

  1. Download and install the Backup and Sync app

    When you scroll down on the Google Drive download page, you’ll see a download button for Google Drive Backup and Sync. You’ll need to give it administrator privileges for it to install.

    google drive desktop download page
  2. Follow the Steps to Set Up Google Drive Backup and Sync

    Once it’s installed, you should enter your account information and choose which files you want to sync here.

    google drive desktop setup backup and sync
  3. Find the Google Drive Folder and paste your files there

    There will now be a “Google Drive” folder in Windows File Explorer. You’ll see any files already synced, and you can copy files here the same way you would move them around on your hard drive.

    google drive desktop drive folder

Uploading Files to Google Drive on Mobile

Access to your Drive from your smartphone will let you upload your photos and documents for safekeeping from anywhere in the world. To do this, you’ll need to download Google Drive from the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store — although it’s probably already installed if you’re on Android — and sign into your account. Then you can upload your images with these three steps.

  1. Tap on the Plus Icon in the Google Drive App

    Open the Google Drive app and click on the plus icon in the bottom-right corner.

    google drive mobile plus icon
  2. Select “Upload” From the Menu

    The top-center button labeled “upload” will let you add any file from your smartphone.

    google drive mobile file upload
  3. Choose the Files You Want to Upload

    Tap and hold on one file to begin the selection, then tap on any file you want to upload. When you’re finished, click the “done” button in the top-right corner.

    google drive mobile select files

How to Download Google Drive for Desktop

Some people may want to try out the Drive for Desktop app before everything is moved over but will notice there’s no download button for personal users. Luckily, there is a way you can try out this app, even if you don’t have a business account.

  1. Enter Your Account Details

    Once the installer has finished, you can enter your account details. You can now access and use the new Drive for Desktop app, with your personal account.

    google drive new app sign in

Final Thoughts 

Whether you prefer to work in a browser, on your desktop or on mobile, it’s easy to upload a file to Google Drive. You can then go on to share your file through Google Drive and backup your data. However, you can also choose to stop files from syncing to your Google Drive account if you want your copies to be completely separate.

This ease of use is why Google Drive is one of our favorite cloud storage providers. However, there are still plenty of alternatives to Google Drive. We’re particularly fond of Sync.com and pCloud for the security and great feature set provided. So, our Sync.com vs pCloud comparison is a good place to start if you want to keep your data safe from prying eyes.

Do you use Google Drive to protect your files and folders? Have you used these methods to upload a file to your Drive? Was there a good method that we missed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.