Rumors of a "G-Drive" from Google have been around for years. These rumors have been on-again off-again. The company reportedly will release a product that allows users to store a limited amount of data in the cloud free of charge with larger amounts of disk storage available for modest fees. Such a solution is great for making backups. It is also good for copying data from desktop to laptop computers or from the office to home computers. If proper permissions are put in place, it is also possible to share selected files with friends, relatives, or co-workers.
While rumored for several years, Google has not yet released such a product. Other companies, including Dropbox, Mozy, CrashPlan, Backblaze, Carbonite, Amazon, and even Microsoft have online storage products, but not Google. That seems strange for the company with the most web-connected servers on the planet. Now the rumors are growing again: Google reportedly will release such a service within the next few weeks. Only the name will be "Drive," not G-Drive.
Google Docs already offers free storage for any type of file, with each user given up to one gigabyte of free space, compared to 2 gigabytes from Dropbox. But Google Docs users can purchase an extra 20 gigabytes of storage for only $5 a year, or 80 gigabytes for $20 a year, considerably cheaper than Dropbox rates of $9.99 per month for 50 gigabytes and $19.99 per month for 100 gigabytes.
Other online storage services have higher or lower prices, although Microsoft seems to have the best introductory price with its SkyDrive product offering 25 gigabytes of storage for free if you can put up with the required Windows Live software.
Actually, Google already offers file storage on Google Docs, Gmail, and Picasa at very competitive prices, starting at $5 per year for 20 gigabytes, or $20 per year for 80 gigabytes. Other online storage services generally are much more expensive: Dropbox is $9.99 per month for 50 gigabytes and SugarSync is $4.99 per month for 30 gigabytes. In contrast, Google is 10 times cheaper than the competition. The new Drive probably will use similar pricing although details have not yet been announced. Obviously, Microsoft's Skydrive is cheapest (as in free) up to 25 gigabytes but if your storage requirements specify more than that, Google should be the cheapest.
Google presumably will make these files available to Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Android operating systems. It may or may not make the files available to those using Apple's iOS operating system on iPhones and iPads. After all, Apple devices are major competitors to Google's own Android operating system.
Google Drive also could be integrated into the Chrome web browser as well as the Chrome OS used by a few laptop computers.
Will Google Drive become popular? I am not certain. Google is usually a leader in most things but this time is late to the game. Other online storage services are already well established and the rumor mill doesn't seem to indicate that Google's new Drive application will have any "killer features" that are missing in the competitors' offerings. Low prices are always attractive, but Microsoft Skydrive is already very, very cheap. Can Google compete?
Before anyone asks, I am using Amazon S3 these days for my own online storage needs. I am presently backing up nearly 100 gigabytes on Amazon S3 at prices that are even cheaper than Skydrive. I use it with Macintosh, Windows, and handheld iPhone and iPad systems and can access any of my files from most anywhere. However, I did find Amazon S3 to be a bit difficult to set up and configure. I don't recommend Amazon S3 for computer novices.
I probably will evaluate Google Drive if and when it becomes available.
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