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First look at Google Drive

Tech and Innovation

Posted on April 26, 2012

5 min read

Today I read about the launch of Google Drive. When I first saw the headlines/rumours a while back I thought, here we go again, another set of maps for me to download to make my driving easier.

I am happy to say I was totally on the wrong track (maybe I could have done with those maps!)

Google Drive is the latest offering to take your data and store it in “The Cloud”.  I have to ask – exactly where is this cloud, and how big is it? Given that there are in excess of 1 billion personal computers in the world (according to Gartner, IDC and others), imagine what would happen if everyone uploaded their data to “The Cloud”.  What’s actually keeping me awake at night is the fear that the world will one day wake up to a totally clear sky – ie NO CLOUD. Then what?

What is “The Cloud”

The Cloud refers to a grouping of computers that work as service based architecture to deliver data and software. The Cloud uses this group of computers to draw resources and treats them as a collective virtual computer. As users, we see the results in applications like facebook and Gmail. Behind this interface are applications and hardware that drive the interface. This collective virtual computer removes the need to have massive computer power in our homes and offices – rather we can rely on this virtual machine to store a lot of the applications and data in their hardware.

What is Google Drive and how do you get it?

google-drive-blog-inpostGoogle Drive is a place to store your docs, pics, music and video in one place. You can create, share and collaborate through Google Drive.

The Google Docs application is built into Google Drive, and it syncs with your mobile phone/tablet. The beauty of that is if you make a change on one device, the stored/uploaded change is available to you on your next device used to access Google Drive.

Unlike some other Cloud based storage, Google Drive supports a range of platforms. You can download Drive to your PC or Mac. Currently it is available for Android devices and iPhone/iPad is coming soon.

A growing trend amongst the people I communicate with – both in business and private – is to send large (and I mean LARGE) files as an attachment. Mostly it serves to fill my inbox and sometimes use up monthly data allowances. With Google Drive, you can receive a link to those attachments and access them when required. This is a great way to reduce email bottlenecks.

Using the power of the Google search engine, you can search files by keyword, owner, and even by recognition. Google Drive uses optical character recognition to find scanned text (eg newspaper articles) and image recognition to search for stored pics. Whist still in its early stages, this will get better and even more exciting as it develops.

Another useful and fun feature of Google Drive is the fact that you can collaborate on a project with others – all accessing the same document at the same time. This is great for team members working on an assignment, sharing research, adding to family history, etc. Given the opportunity to make and save changes you did not want, you do have the ability to go back to a previous version from up to 30 days ago.

Many third party developers are building their applications to run in the Google Drive browser. It is expected that over 30 file types will be supported.

Editors note: This review has created great dialogue between our readers so thanks for all your comments and feedback. I thought it important to note that any corporate considering the use of the cloud to store their data check it does not breach their own corporate policies and should always check the terms and conditions of any cloud based service before lodging their data with it. For us at Telstra, we have our own data storage product and Google Drive shouldn’t be used for the storage of Telstra information – in fact our policy prohibits the use of any cloud product outside our firewall.

Pricing

Google gives you 5GB storage free, and you can purchase additional storage. Consumers can get 25GB storage for Drive, Picasa photos and extra Gmail storage for $2.49 per month. 100GB will cost $4.99 per month, all the way up to 16TB for $799.99. Business plans are available as well. If you have already paid Google $5 for 25GB Gmail storage, you will be able to upgrade to 25GB in both Gmail and Drive for $2.49 per month.  Prices are quote in AUD referenced by The Australian.

When can you get it?

Google is rolling out Drive progressively over the next few weeks. I am looking forward to when Google Drive is available for me. To check if you have it yet, go to https://drive.google.com

Having used some of the other Cloud storage offerings (including Dropbox, and iCloud), I am keen to give Google Drive a go.

If you have access to Google Drive, we’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Tags: cloud, technology,