Google has finally released their long awaited competitor to Dropbox, SkyDrive, and iCloud, which they are calling Google Drive. Individuals can get up to 5GB of space for free but a premium service is available for 25GB at $2.49/mo, 100GB for $4.99/mo, and $49.99 a month for 1TB.
Users of Google Docs will find Drive very familiar. In fact, Google Docs is built into Drive. Just like Docs, one can collaborate with others on documents, can share content with others, and one can add and reply to comments and receive notifications when others have commented on shared items.
Users can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+ and will soon be able to attach Drive content into Gmail, which can reduced the reliance on the use of file attachments. Work is also underway to allow third-party apps to access the content.
Drive supports a large number of file formats and includes the Google Drive viewer, which allows one to preview documents in 16 formats. Drive also tracks changes made to content so one view the revision history for the past 30 days.
Like other cloud storage services, Drive provides a single location at which to save and store documents and media content that can be automatically synced across multiple devices. Since Google is also behind Android, it’s mobile version of the service was released first. As of this writing the iPhone/iPad app had not yet been released. Drive also takes advantage of Android’s accessibility features so those with sight impairments can use the mobile app, eyes-free.
The desktop client works just like Dropbox’s. A folder is created locally which is used to store the content to be synced. One simply has to drag and drop an item in the Drive folder. Also like with Dropbox, the contents of the folder can be managed as any local folder. Since the desktop I first installed the client on is located behind a corporate firewall, Dropbox required the use of a proxy to allow real-time syncing. This was not the case with Drive. After installation, I dragged a file into the desktop folder and it showed up on the web client within 3 seconds.
Those with Google/Gmail accounts should visit drive.google.com/start to get set up. It may take a day or two for your account to be setup. There is plenty of online support available.
- Eric Schnell