What are Google&Reg; Docs?

H. Bliss

Google® Docs is a free suite of document-handling programs that are accessed through a browser. Available to computer users with a free Google® account, Google® Docs includes features like word processing, drawing, and spreadsheet capabilities as well as a place to store data files. Through this program, a user can opt to keep her documents private, share them with chosen individuals, or publish them as a public web page. Google® Docs is part of Google® Apps, the collection of applications offered by Google®.

A spreadsheet that is compatible with Google® docs.
A spreadsheet that is compatible with Google® docs.

Advantages to using Google® document services include the ability to access documents online from any computer and the option to immediately share online files with other users of the Google® document service. Google® docs also allows the user to upload and store files that are not created on the document suite. Google® Docs works with many different file formats that are already in use in popular software. File types compatible with Google® Docs include but are not limited to Microsoft® Word Document Files (.doc), Excel Spreadsheet Files (.xls), and Rich Text Format (.rtf). While most documents generally load in Google® Docs without issue, some documents with advanced formatting can have some display issues when loaded into the Google® document program.

Excel spreadsheets are compatible with Google® Docs.
Excel spreadsheets are compatible with Google® Docs.

Google® Docs problems for users include storage limitations, privacy concerns, and software bugs. Users of Google® document services must be aware that their documents are stored online, where they may be at risk of unauthorized access in the event of a system error or computer hacking attack. The data storage in Google® Docs has a number of file size limits that some users may find inconvenient. Documents are limited to 512,000 characters, which Google® estimates comes in at about 100 pages of text. Presentations can have a maximum of 10 megabytes of data, or about 200 slides.

Founded in 1998, Google® is a company that focuses on web searches, online applications, and advertising. Google® Apps is the part of Google® that handles online software applications. Applications available to Google® users are many, but include Blogger®, Google® Reader and Picasa®. Blogger® is a free blogging service that allows a user to easily publish and add advertising to a blog. Google® Reader is a feed reader and content organizer that helps the user subscribe to and read online content. Picasa® is a picture-storage and picture-sharing program that helps a user store, edit, and organize her photo collection.

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