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Google Drive: A First Look

google drive-logoThe announcement finally came from Google about their product Google Drive. Many of us in the cloud storage industry have been excited to see how Google would implement cloud storage.

Google Drive expands your Google Docs folder, in size and features, transforming it into a online locker and sync folder. You can sync this folder with your computer (Windows and Mac) or smartphone (currently android only). This folder allows you to backup, edit and share all of your important files.

You can get 5GBs of free storage with plans that expand into the Terrabytes. We expect most people to opt for 25GB for $2.49/month or 100GBs for $4.99/month. With prices like these we really think Google is out to shakeup the online storage market.

Many people are wondering what Google Drive is like. Some say it is simply an upgrade from Google Docs and others say it could put competitors like Dropbox out on the street. First we will go through the features.

Features

Full Google Drive Review

Desktop Client (Google Drive Folder)

All files from your Google Docs will be synced here. The exciting news is that you are not limited to just Google formats. You can upload pretty much any file type you want. You can only edit files in Google Docs if they are formatted for Google Docs. That being said, they have apps already available that you can get to edit photos, for example.

Google rarely puts out a product that you have to download to your desktop. A few years ago, you could sync Google Docs to your desktop using Google Gears. This provided a way to work on Docs in a browser while you are offline. As soon as you were online again, the files were synced. Google Gears is long gone, but this is similar to how the desktop client will work with Google Docs. When you double click to open a Google Doc, a browser will open to your Doc inside of your Google webapp.

Drive’s Webapp

This new integration replaces Google Docs all together. Now it’s just Google Drive. You get 5 Free GB’s of space and all your Google created docs do not count against your limit (Which is freaking awesome!). Use the list view and thumbnail view to see sample images of pictures and docs that you are looking for.

Searching in the Webapp is great. We already knew that Google has excellent search capabilities, but they have really brought it to the table in this app. It uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and the Google Images database to find and match keywords and images (much like using Google Goggles). This can also scan documents like PDF’s and make it searchable by scanning the document. Searching will now use this technology to find files more efficiently.

Viewing the files is easy. The webapp has a lot of file type compatibility built in (And we assume there will be more in the future) and you can view these files all within the webapp. You cannot edit file types not familiar to the Google Docs family in Google Docs, but you can view them and you have access to all the other features.

Available Apps

There are already a few apps that have been developed to work seamlessly with Google Drive (Google Drive > Settings > Manage apps > Get more apps). Third party developers have created these apps and there will be many more in the future. Here are a few that were mentioned.

  • Pixlr - Edit photos 
  • HelloFax - Send faxes
  • DocuSign - Sign Documents

Sharing

In Google Drive you are able to share any file the same way you shared a Google Doc previously. You can access who views the file by setting it to private, anyone who has the link, or make it public. It’s easy to add people who already have Google Drive by typing their email in and sharing it with them. Those without a Google Account may have a harder time interacting with files shared with them from Google Drive. Setting permissions is easy, you can change owners, set user to edit only, comment only, and view only.

Revision History (or Versioning)

In a Google Doc you can go to File > Revision history to see a minute to minute history of your file. If it is a file type that is not part of the Google Docs family, you must download the file. Both Google Docs and Non-Google Docs have revision history, so the bottom line is, your revisions are safe.

Pricing

  • 25GB’s for $2.50/Month or $30/Year
  • 100GB’s for $4.99/Month or $60/Year
  • 200GB’s for $9.99/Month or $120/Year
  • 400GB’s for $19.99/Month or $240/Year
  • 1TB for $49.99/Month or $600/Year
  • 2TB’s for $99.99/Month or $1200/Year
  • 4TB’s for $199.99/Month or $2400/Year
  • 8TB’s for $399.99/Month or $4800/Year
  • 16TB’s for $799.99/Month or$9600/Year

Google Drive vs The Competitors

We realize there are a slew of other cloud storage companies out there. Heck, we have a whole site dedicated to them. They could show to be quite the opposition to companies like Dropbox, but they could even threaten the bigger guys like Carbonite or Mozy.

See how Google Drive stacks up to Dropbox, SugarSync, and iCloud Here.

Wrappin it up

For the most part we see Google Drive as a very helpful extension to Google Docs. We are excited that they will be able to offer a product with a large company with lots of resources to back it up. When it comes to online backup for the sake of file storage and security, we are not yet convinced that this should replace any online backup company you are using. You should check out our full review and see what you think.

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