If you're a Microsoft Word user who hasn't been able to justify the cost of Office 365, Google Docs may be right up your alley -- it's free, it uses Google Drive cloud storage so that you can access your files anywhere, and it has great tools for collaboration and drafting. Let's take a close-up look at what Docs has to offer.
It's completely free: Unless you're using G Suite at your place of business, Google Docs has no fees, and no version of it displays ads. Because of the money that Google makes elsewhere, it's able to offer Docs to non-business users as a kind of promotional tool for the brand as a whole.
Docs uses your Google Drive account for storage space, so it's technically not free if you need more than the 15GB that come with it.
Cloud storage makes your work accessible anywhere: By default, your documents are put in your Google Drive account, and they're saved practically in real-time as you type. So wherever you can access your Google account, you can access your files, and you won't have to deal with merging multiple versions of them. You can work on a document within the app, then sit down at a computer and pick up right where you left off.
You can also work offline: At the same time, an Internet connection isn't required to use Docs, though you have to set this up while you are still connected. Just open a document in the app, tap on the three-dot menu button in the upper right, and tap on the "Available offline" slider near the bottom. This allows you to continue working when getting online is unreliable, prohibitively expensive, or impossible.
If you are using G Suite, offline access may be disabled by your administrator, so check your company's policy on that before heading out on a business trip.
Extensive editing tools can preserve every stage of a document: Google Docs will keep a running history of every edit made to a document, so you'll never lose early draft material that you may want to restore later on. It can also track changes, and you can add comments and suggestions to any word, sentence, or paragraph. Between cloud storage and document history, you have to go out of your way to mess up a document or lose access to it.
Robust sharing and exporting: You can share your document with anyone with an email address, and they can edit it in real-time along with you. Or you can send them a copy, or you can create a link to it that you can send to multiple people or broadcast publicly. Lastly, you can just make an additional copy to store in Google Docs, to send later or to preserve a specific draft.
You can't make your files completely private: For individual users of Google Drive (where all your Google Doc documents are stored), Google retains a copy of the encryption keys that it uses to protect your account. While this enables them to restore access to you if you lose your password, these keys may also be compromised by a security breach, software bug, or a leak. Law enforcement can also gain access without your being notified.
Because of these potential issues, particularly sensitive documents, such as tax returns, an employment contract, or a last will and testament probably should not be stored in your Google Drive, unless perhaps you are already protecting them with robust client-side encryption. Ultimately, the best home for those types of documents is still the safety deposit box at your bank.
Although Google Docs isn't the most secure choice for storing or working on truly sensitive data, it's still really hard to beat as a collaborative word processor, with features historically reserved for paid products.