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PDF Drive

There are several perks of having books in digital versions (PDF, ePUB, MOBI, and so on). They are portable and easy to access, which means reading anywhere is possible. Plus, there is plenty of room to make notes, as opposed to the limited margin space you get with hard copies. With all the perks, it is easy to see why a good number of book lovers in today’s digital age have a preference for eBooks. However, finding a digital copy of a book you love or would like to read can be challenging due to cost, authenticity, or even availability. With PDF Drive, many have found it easy to get eBooks without these challenges. But what is PDF Drive and is it any good? We find out in this review of the popular pdf search engine.

PDF drive

What is PDF Drive?

Simply. PDF Drive is a search engine for files in .pdf format. It allows users to search and even preview PDF files before downloading for free. The site prides itself on having almost 80 million eBooks available for free download. And these eBooks include journals, articles, magazines and books in PDF. This makes PDF Drive one of the largest PDF collections on the web.

How does PDF Drive Work?

The millions of PDFs that are accessible on PDF Drive are grouped into collections. These collections, which can be seen on the homepage include Art, Business and Career, Biography, Fiction and Literature, Health and Fitness, and so on. There are also more general categories such as Editor’s Picks and Most Popular, from which you can select recommended books.

The intuitive site allows you to perform a manual search if you have a book in mind to download. For mobile users, the search icon is located on the top right of the homepage, while users of the desktop version will find a search bar at the top center of the page. You may search for an author, a book title, or a genre.

Search results could run into hundreds but the process is quick and results often load in less than a second. Included in the search results are information about when the eBook was uploaded, the number of pages, how many downloads the item had had, and an excerpt from the book. When you select any of the search results, the page that loads shows you the file size and language and it gives you the option to preview the PDF or download it.

A menu beside the Download button allows you to choose whether to convert the file to EPUB or MOBI, to send to email or Kindle, or to report the search result. After clicking on Download, the site first checks for remote file health and when this is done, the download button appears. While the default format is usually PDF, you may switch to MOBI or EPUB. However, as they warn, the converted file can differ from the original PDF format so they recommend downloading in the original file format.

PDF Drive is also available as a free-to-download mobile application that is just as easy to use as the site.

Features of PDF Drive

1.) Simple interface

Searching for files and performing other tasks such as file preview and download on PDF Drive is easy because the buttons are easy to find. The interface is user friendly and easy to navigate, even for first-time visitors.

2.) Remote file option

There is an option to “go to remote file” when you preview a PDF. This takes you to the site where the PDF was originally uploaded before it was indexed on PDF Drive. The search engine also checks remote file health before providing the download button.

3.) Conversion to other formats

You can convert PDF files to other file formats – MOBI or EPUB – before downloading. The conversion option can be found in the vertical ellipses menu beside the Download and Preview buttons beneath a search result or in a dropdown next to the final “Download PDF” button.

4.) Filters

PDF Drive lets you match exact phrases in searches and allows you to filter search results by year of publication, page count, and language.

Pros of PDF Drive

  • Free downloads

  • Vast books available

  • Intuitive interface

  • No intrusive ads

  • Advanced filter options

  • Quick page response and download time

  • Constantly updated

  • Available as a mobile app

Cons of PDF Drive

  • Possible malware and virus content

  • Copyright issues

Is PDF Drive Really Free?

It is possible to use PDF Drive for free, for as long as you like. The free version of the search engine tool allows you unlimited searches and completely free downloads. However, there is a premium version of the Drive that comes with a few added benefits, including –

  • Unlimited Drive storage, as opposed to the free 100MB that comes with the free version

  • A completely ad-free interface

  • Quicker download time

  • Faster previews

  • No broken links (access even when the remote file is unavailable)

  • Exclusive experiences

The Premium version is priced at $3.99 monthly or an annual payment of $29.99. There is a 7-day free trial for this version.

Is PDF Drive Safe?

Many have concerns as to whether PDF Drive is safe, and for good reasons. The files available on the Drive are externally sourced and are indexed on the site after being scrapped from the net. What this means is that it is possible for some of the files, which may have been uploaded by cybercriminals, to contain viruses, malware, or other harmful content.

Although PDF Drive checks the health of the remote file before download, there is no guarantee that within the PDF, there are no content that could contaminate your device. This is especially so for .pdf files with links and multimedia content such as images or videos.

Is PDF Drive Legal?

Because PDF Drive acts as a proxy by acting as a search engine and letting you download files from around the web through its servers, what it does is not illegal in itself. However, legal issues such as copyright infringement may arise from the use of the site to download copyrighted materials for free.

PDF Drive also has a DCMA disclaimer, releasing them from liability for the data provided on the site, being published for general purposes. They do not provide any warranties on the content itself. It becomes the responsibility of users to ensure that they have appropriate permission and do not infringe the copyright of the authors of books they download. The source URL of the files that PDF Drive provides is helpful for checking if the files were legitimately uploaded.

In addition, depending on the publisher, it may be okay to download the files for personal use and not reshare or use for commercial purposes. To avoid being on the wrong side of the blurred lines of illegality, many have found it necessary to resort to PDF Drive alternatives.

Alternatives to PDF Drive

There are several platforms other than PDF Drive where you may search and download eBooks. Some of these are paid or subscription-based, while others let you download for free. Also, some of the alternatives only provide non-copyrighted books, whereas some others make copyrighted books available. The following are some PDF Drive alternative sites where you can get non-copyrighted books for free.

Project Gutenberg

This online library is a collection of over 60,000 books in the public domain (non-copyrighted books or those whose copyrights have expired). Thus, it is completely legal to download the books available on for free. Downloads are possible in PDF, text, MOBI and EPUB formats.

Doksi allows you free access to textbooks, articles, and lecture notes as documents in PDF format. The files available on Doksi are either noncopyrighted or published with the consent of the author.

Google Books

Google Books functions as a search engine for books, whether physical books to purchase online or eBooks to download for free or for a sum. With Google Books, you can access free public domain books, with more than 10 million available for reading and free downloads. You can either download these books as PDFs or EPUBs.

The challenge with sites like the above is that the files available for free downloads are limited and so is the format you are allowed to download the files in. On the other hand, sites like the following can substitute PDF Drive by allowing you access to some copyrighted books for free –














  14. Smallpdf


  16. Open library

  17. Internet Archive

  18. Read Any Book

  19. Bookboon

  20. Bookyards

However, none of these free eBook-download sites works the exact way PDF Drive does, as a search engine. PDF Drive also has a lot more available books, in comparison with most of its competitors. This leaves PDF Drive at the top of the list of free eBook download sites and its true contenders in terms of content would be eBook subscriptions.

The safest, easiest, and legal alternative to PDF Drive or similar sites is to purchase eBooks online or use subscription services. eBook subscription sites work the same way as subscription platforms for movies. For a specified renewable sum every month, they allow you unlimited access to reading. They are great for book lovers who read often and enjoy a variety of genres.

Some popular subscription platforms for eBooks are Scribd, Kindle Unlimited, Bookmate, 24Symbols, Kobo Plus, to mention some. Common features among these subscription services include –

  • Monthly subscription fee: Most of the popular platforms are priced at $10/month (Scribd, Kindle, Bookmate and Kobo). Some of these such as Scribd, Kindle, and Kobo come with a 30-day free trial.

  • Selection: Some such as Kobo have hundreds of thousands of books while Bookmate has as many as over 1.8 million eBooks and audiobooks, including magazines.

  • Available books: You get access to unlimited access to books on the platform, as long as the books are available in your region.

  • Platforms: Paid subscription platforms are available on Web, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire and Nook devices (for Kindle) as well as Kobo devices (for Kobo).


PDF Drive is a useful tool that makes PDF search and downloads all too easy and at no cost. However, the fact that it involves some form of copyright infringement and exposure to malware might be a reason for you to second-guess using the site and turn to alternatives. Regardless, this does not take away from the platform’s usefulness as a PDF search engine.

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