Google-DriveCloud based services have made life so much easier. Dropbox, Onedrive and Google Drive are highly beneficial for collaboration, file sharing and off site backups. Reverting back to a working version after Cryptlocker encrypted a few of your files is such a relief. This small little program managing syncing for you is installed and never to be worried about again. Great.

Also Google Docs is great. Editing stuff online, and multiple people editing the same document at the same time and you can follow what they are working on. Great. Unfortunately they are functionally somewhat limited compared to the Microsoft office pack so sometimes you want your Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The mix is where it can ger difficult. I had a few cases recently where it did really go wrong as it’s not very intuitive.

A) If you use Google Docs, you can collaborate freely. Everybody is working on the online copy of the document. The file that Google Drive syncs for you is just a reference to the online versions, so nothing can get out of sync as the reference is the same, no matter how much you edit the document itself.

B) If you prefer Microsoft Office and use Google Drive to sync your files to your personal disk, and only edit the copies there, then you’re normally good. The only risk is if several people edit their individual local copies simultaneously – then versions can get out of sync.

C) The mess happens where a group of collaborators mix this.

  • When you open a Microsoft Office file from the Google Drive web, they are converted into a Google Docs file and when you save it you save a copy of the Google Docs file in you own personal drive. The original Microsoft Office file is unchanged
  • It’s especially confusing as the Google Docs file is called the original MS Office filename, including the extension, e.g. “Original filename.docx”

So be very careful opening a Microsoft Office filename from the Google Drive webpage with the intention of editing that file. That’s not how it works.

There is a workaround and that is this plug-in. It’s supposedly going to allow you to edit the Office files in compatibility mode on-line.


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