Using Google Drive as a file server

Update: The Google Drive API previously mentioned in this post has been discontinued. This service continues to work using the service. There are some important changes to this service that resulted in significant changes to this post. In some ways, the process is much simpler, but other aspects of the process are significantly more complex.

Have you ever been in a situation where you need to host several files on the Web? Did you need for those files to have a dedicated URL? Personally, I have had few situations where this was the case, but today I encountered a learning activity that required students to quickly upload images they just captured so they could add them to a Google Map. After some searching around, I found that the Google Drive hosting API is perfect for this sort of thing. Here is what I did …

Create Drive Folders

The first thing I had to do was create a set of Google Drive folders for students to put the images they just captured. For this activity, students were running around our university taking pictures of some of the landmarks. They were then going to use these images to create an interactive map of the campus with the My Places tool in Google Maps. I created several folders in a Google account I use only for this class. My TA’s and I connected a class set of iPads to this account so the students could load their images directly into Drive, which is what they did as soon as they got back to the classroom.

An important step in this process is to set the permissions for the folders to Public. You can do this directly through Drive. You will find the folder, right-click and choose Get Link.


Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.56.52 PM


You will then need to change the permissions. Google has a great explanation for how to do that right here.

Set Up the Hosted Site

This part is actually much easier than you might think. You will need to go to WWW Drive (, and give permission to this service to access your Drive files. This also works with OneDrive files, but I am not a user of this service.

Once you have given permission to WWW Drive, it will scan your contents looking for public HTML files. If you are not familiar with how to create an HTML file, there are many resources and templates that will help you get started. This is something I will cover in a future post, but in the short term you can save a Google Doc or Word file in HTML format. You will then need to upload that to the folder you have designated for this project. If you are feeling adventurous, you can use Editey to create your web files for you. This service saves your files in your Google Drive automatically (if you sign in with your Google Drive credentials).

The WWW Drive admin screen looks like this:


Here is an example of a simple HTML file hosted on my Google Drive.

Note: This service will only point to public HTML files. If you want to provide students with a link to other files, images, or folders, you will need to include those in the HTML file. This is quite different than hosting files on a server, where the browser will build an index file with links to each resource in the folder if you do not have a designated index file.

So, that’s it. In just a few clicks, I can create a public-HTML directory, host an index file in that directory, and put links to any resource you want. This service is particularly good for creating web pages with resources and scripts not possible in a Google Doc (e.g., video, javaScript, CSS, animations, etc.).  I don’t think I will need this functionality all that often, but it sure will be handy when I do.

3 thoughts on “Using Google Drive as a file server

  1. Woww.. Depois de alguns dias procurando por essa informação consegui encontrar aqui no seu blog, finalmente consegui fazer do Google Drive um Servidor de Arquivos.. parabéns

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