If you’re a Google Drive user on a personal Google account (as opposed to a GSuite user), then this might be interesting to you. As part of our extensive preparations for Europe’s GDPR data protection law, we’ve been reviewing all our relations with suppliers, use of different tools, and things of that sort.

Personally, I’ve been using Google Drive, fairly lightly, for over a decade. As a company, we had been keeping some internal documents of use to our staff (guides on how to do this or that, policies for X and Y, etc.), and that sort of thing, on Google Drive. This grew out of using it to share documents when there was first more than one of us, and it’s worked reasonably well.

But no more. Today I learnt something new, as part of our GDPR preparations. Something I think Google must keep fairly quiet, because I don’t know how I’ve never learned this before. What did I learn? This little stunner: Google Drive’s terms and conditions on normal Google accounts (i.e. not paid GSuite accounts) forbid the use of Google Drive for any commercial/business purposes.

Did that surprise you? It did me. But it’s there in black-and-white:

Personal Use. By accepting these terms, you agree not to use Google Drive for business purposes; you must use the Drive service only for personal non-commercial purposes.

Well, well. I normally try to read as much of the “Terms and Conditions” as seem like they have something that isn’t “legal boilerplate” in it. But I never saw that one before.

I hope I didn’t bring you bad news! If you have to comply with the EU’s GDPR law, then it’s better to find out now than later, before GDPR becomes law… because of the above, a sole trader or small business using a free Google account can’t form a legal “data processing agreement” with Google for Drive and thus can’t store any customer data there (our review did not find any on our account, by the way). (That’s not the only that their T & C look to be incompatible with the GDPR for small businesses or sole traders – e.g. “Our automated systems analyze your content to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is received, shared, uploaded and when it is stored”).

The good news, if this affects you for business backups you were running, and you decide to move away from Google Drive (e.g. you don’t want to move to GSuite), is that UpdraftPlus, and especially UpdraftPlus Premium, support lots of other options, including several (e.g. UpdraftVault, Amazon S3, Google Cloud, Microsoft OneDrive for Business, Rackspace Cloud, Backblaze) explicitly designed for business use (or having a business version, like Dropbox), and several other generic protocols that are common in business (e.g. SFTP, FTP, S3 generic). So there are plenty of other options to look at.

David Anderson (lead developer)