Q: I’m using Google Drive, Google’s online storage service, with Windows 10 PC. But many things remain unclear. Do document files on Google and my PC automatically sync with each other? Do I now have duplicate files and should I delete one of them? Should I just delete the Windows My Documents file?

Also, why are some Microsoft Word documents I have stored in Google Drive altered, so that they have to be converted back to Word format when I download them? In addition, why does Google Drive say my files take up far more storage space online than they did on my PC?

Rick Jensen, Eden Prairie


A: Google Drive is an online storage service that can act either as overflow storage for your PC (you keep files online, not on your PC) or as automatic backup for PC files (you keep synchronized copies of the files on both your PC and online.) (For an overview, see tinyurl.com/ycyva98s).

To use Google Drive as overflow storage, use the Windows drag-and-drop method. Highlight a file with the left mouse button, hold down the button, “drag” the file to the web browser window where Google Drive is open, then release the button. You now have a duplicate on Google Drive, so you can delete the one on your PC.

(Note: Never store valuable files in just one place. Keep backups on a flash drive or an external hard drive.)

To use Google Drive for automatic file backup, set up a “sync” folder on your PC (go to tinyurl.com/phabz6v and under “Personal backup and sync” click “download.) If you use your PC to make changes to files in the sync folder, those changes will automatically be copied to Google Drive. But remember that these are not duplicate files. If you delete the PC file, sync may delete the Google Drive file as well (see “choose how items are deleted” at tinyurl.com/h3vnokd). (For uploading details, see tinyurl.com/y7ee8f45).

Should you delete your PC’s “My Documents” folder? No, it’s part of Windows.

Why are your Word documents altered on Google Drive? If you view Word files on Google Drive, they are converted to Google Docs files. If you download those files, they are reconverted to Word format. To avoid that, use the Google Chrome browser and download the add-on program “Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides” (see tinyurl.com/ybvtow6u).

Why does Google Drive say it’s storing more data than you uploaded? Because Drive also stores the e-mails from your Gmail account, as well as any pictures you have uploaded to Google Photos. All three programs share 15 gigabytes of free online storage space.

Q: My two-year-old HP PC shuts down by itself. What’s wrong?

Wanda Hill, Peyton, Colo.


A: This is a common problem with HP PCs. The cause could be bad driver software (software that connects a PC component to Windows), a PC hardware flaw (the main circuit board, for instance) or a problem with the BIOS (“basic input-output system”) software that underlies Windows.

You may need to take the PC to a repair shop. But first, you can try a taking two-hour online diagnostic test and updating the drivers and BIOS (see tinyurl.com/y888emjk). The same page contains contact information for HP technical support.


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com. Include name, city and telephone number.