Google Drive arrives with a bang. It has been a full five years since we first heard claims of its imminent arrival. In all fairness, those early claims in 07 and 09 were not published by Google, but by hackers who were snooping around Google’s sites and finding sign-up pages for a service code-named “Platypus”.
From that point forward, it has been christened the “G-Drive”. While it looked at the time like Google had killed the project internally, those of us on Google Apps, haven’t really missed it; as we’ve had Google Docs. For everyone else, a plethora of services, the most popular of which is Dropbox, have filled the need to share files larger than what can confidently be sent via email. Now, Google has entered the fray in their inimitable style with the catchy name ‘Google Drive’.
For non-Google Apps customers, Google Drive is similar to DropBox, except that it’s Google-priced. Which means either free, or very cheap. In this case, it’s both. You get 5GBs for free, or 20GBs for $5/yr. This price point matches Google Apps. In fact, if you’re already on Google Apps, all that changes is some new features in the Google Docs (now called Google Drive) file manager, and some new utilities, discussed below. If you need more space, the pricing changes to a monthly fee. 25GBs is $2.59, 200GBs is $9.99/mo. and you can step all the way up to 16TBs for a healthy $799.99/mo. Compared to DropBox which gives you 18GBs for free, but if you want more, 50GBs will cost you $9.99/mo. For the same price, Google gives you 4X that. I expect we’ll see Dropbox and the other file storage and sharing services drop their prices in short order.
Google also includes a Google Drive utility for MS Windows. This is a nice little utility that runs quietly in the system tray and synchronizes your Google Drive (Docs) files and folders with a Google Drive folder on your desktop. Any files or folders stored in the desktop Google Drive folder are automatically synchronized with the cloud. This is a fabulous feature, and natural extension of Google Apps, that has been bridged over the last couple of years by products like Syncplicity and Syncdocs. It’s unfortunate that these companies will likely be forced to shut their doors. I especially liked Syncdocs, and have been a subscriber since they went into production. But, that’s the risk you take when you come out with a ‘bridge’ product that fills a glaring hole in a major vendor’s service. Like the others, Google Drive allows you to define which files and folders are synced, pause the sync process when you need more bandwidth for your foreground tasks, and automatically stops and resumes with your connectivity.
Another feature that will be of interest for non-Google Apps customers is an Android (and soon an IOS) app that gives you access to your Google Drive files. Google Apps Android users have had this capability for some time.
Finally, for Google Apps users, you’ll see some subtle differences in the Google Drive file manager. For one thing, you’ll notice the re-badging to Google Drive. You get a link to download the Windows app. You get a couple of new views. The default view now shows your folders (Collections) at the top of the list… finally. There’s also a new view under the Sort menu which displays how much storage is utilized by non-Google files. Google Apps users know that native Google Docs files do not count against your storage quota, only storage for pdfs, MS Office and other non-Google Docs files count against your drive size.
For more posts about Google Apps and the cloud go to: CloudOPX.com