Your Google Drive documents may be accessible to anyone if you do not activate this option

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your google drive documents may be accessible to anyone if.webp.webp.webp

In Google Drive you can save everything, including personal documents that you wouldn’t like anyone could see by doing a Google search. Normally it should not be a problem in the vast majority of cases, although we will tell you how you can check it to have the peace of mind of keeping your documents safe.

It turns out that a simple Google search with the parameter site:drive.google.com can reveal other people’s documents saved in Google Drive, like exams, books or basically anything. It is not a security problem, but a configuration problem and we will tell you how you can make sure it does not happen to you.

Documents that are not yours, visible

Can you imagine if your precious Google Drive documents were visible to strangers? It could happen to you, though only if certain conditions are met that normally should not occur.

The issue is this: Google search allows us to indicate that only the results of a certain domain are shown with the parameter If you:, so if we do searches like “exam site:drive.google.com”, we will get results from documents with the name Exam saved in Google Drive, saved by other people and that we can open and see. It is not easy to imagine how this can be problematic in many cases.

Googledrivestuff

And why is this? Before you take it to your head, you should keep in mind that for this to happen two conditions must be met which, as standard, should not occur:

  • That the document is shared as public. That is, anyone can open it (with editing permission or not is irrelevant), from its link.
  • That it is linked somewhere on the web. For Google to include it in its results, it must have “seen” it somewhere on the web. That is, what Google shows in its results are not all public Drive documents, but only those that are linked somewhere.

How to prevent it from happening to your documents and files

Knowing the above, we proceed to tell you how you can check that your documents are safe from prying eyes. The most important thing on your part is that your documents are not public, because it is what you have control of. If they are public, anyone can share them anywhere on the Internet where Google sees them, such as on social networks or in forums.

You can check if any Google Drive file is visible to third parties from Google Drive by pressing the ⋮ button next to its name and tapping Manage access.

Restrict

In section general access, You will see that it indicates that access is Restricted or Anyone with the link, which is the same as saying that the document is public and accessible to anyone who has the link. Click on change to modify it to Restricted, which makes the file private.

When a document is restricted, only you and the people you specifically designate can open it. If you want to share the document with someone, do so privately from the ⋮ menu and tapping Share and then include the address of the Gmail account with which you will share it.

Share

Thus, only you and those Gmail accounts will be able to open the document even if it appears on Google or someone sends the link to someone else. It is the best way to ensure that your documents are not visible to anyone in the search engine.

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Mubashir Hassan
Expert in tech and gaming, blending industry insights with expertise