Using Google Drive has many advantages. The free data storage service lets you store important files, share documents, pictures, and more. Plus, it's also a great tool if you're on the go a lot, as you can download the app to your smartphone, where all your information will be stored in the cloud.
If you're an avid Google Drive user and often share files with lots of people, it can be difficult to keep track of exactly who has access to them.
In this article, we'll explore how you can see who's viewing and downloading your Google Drive files and what actions you can take to limit that.
Keep reading to find out more.
How to see who downloaded Google Drive files
Whether you use Google Drive for personal or professional reasons, your data cannot be downloaded unless it is shared or someone has access to your personal login information. File sharing is easy when it comes to Google Drive, as is seeing if any of your files have changed.
You can see who downloaded files from a Google Drive account with one of 2 methods. If you pay for a Google Apps Unlimited account or a Google Apps for Education account, you can see who downloaded the files. Alternatively, you can add an add-on and start monitoring. This will only work once you have added the add-on.
Before specifying who downloads your files, you can start by seeing everyone who has access to them. You can get this information using your computer or smartphone. Here are the steps:
- Open the file in question.
- Right-click or tap the "options" icon and tap "Share."
- Once you've done this, you'll see a list of people who have access to your files and documents.
You may first notice changes in your documents (edits, comments, uploads to new folders, etc.). To have a clear idea of how and when these changes took place, you need to have access to your history. Here's how:
From your computer:
- Go to drive.google.com.
- Click on "My Drive", located on the left side.
- Select the information icon (a gray circle with a lowercase white "i" in the middle) in the upper right corner.
- Tap "Activity" to access recent changes.
- To be more specific, you can select the file or folder to see the specifics of the activity.
- For any older edits, scroll to the right side.
From your Android phone or tablet:
- Start by opening the Google Drive app.
- Find the file you want to check and tap on the three dots.
- Select “Details” then “Activity”.
- Scroll down until you see your recent activity.
Accessing your history is the first step to seeing if someone has downloaded or tampered with your Google Drive files.
However, the service does not allow you to see who has accessed your files, only that they have been modified.
Fortunately, there is a way to do this. By Downloading Unlimited Google Apps, users can directly monitor all downloads on Google Drive or Google Docs. Once the software download is complete, you will be able to access the Google Apps admin console.
From there, follow these steps for your computer and smartphone:
- Open the Google Apps Admin Console and click "Reports".
- Select “Audit” then “Drive”.
- Here you can view all kinds of information, including changes made by which user. It also includes the date and time of the changes made.
- On the right side of the page, you will see a “Filters” section. Click or tap it.
Once you access "Filters", you can create a filter for all users who upload your files. The page will show you the user's name, IP address, and the date and time they uploaded your documents.
But what if you don't want to pay more to find out who's been in your files? Fear not, because there is another way to access this information.
You can add the Orangedox app to your Google Drive for free and use this service for free from your computer and your smartphone.
The downside of using this free feature is that it only tracks your activity once you've already downloaded the app. Nothing before that can be seen.
If you're new to Google Drive and want to take precautions by tracking future activity (including who uploads your files), we recommend downloading this app as soon as you start using Google Drive.
Here's how to track your Google files and docs once you've downloaded the app.
- Go to the official website and click on “Start for free”.
- Log in to your Google Drive account to synchronize your Google Drive files with Orangedox without having to download anything.
- On the left side of the screen, select "Share Links," then click "Get Started" to allow you to share directly from your Google Drive.
- Select the documents you want to share. At this point you will also have the option to add a password for added security.
- Click "Finish".
- Under 'Reference label', enter where you want your file to be shared (eg, 'Share on website'), and a unique link will be provided for your shared document.
- To see who has accessed your files, return to Orangedox and click 'Publish'.
- Here you will be presented with two viewing options. One for "Viewed" and one for "Created". Under "Viewed", you will be able to see who has viewed and downloaded your pages.
Don't let it (Google) drive you crazy
Having your files tampered with or downloaded without your knowledge can be the cause of many inconveniences. Knowing how to fix the problem is vital in some cases, especially if important work folders are changed.
If you're new to Google Drive, taking precautions by adding apps like Orangedox to your device can save you a lot of time and effort (and money) in the long run. Whereas if you've been using the system for a while, it might be worth investing in the right apps to get you back on track.
Have you ever been a victim of downloading your Google Drive files without your consent? What method did you use to solve this problem? Let us know in the comments below.