Google Drive: Too Late or Innovation?

It has been a few weeks since Google launched their new service, Google Drive and I decided to give it a try. I actually found out about it a week after it was launched. The signup process is painless if you already have a Google account since all you need to do is sign in. At the time I signed up however, the signup was not immediate and it told me that the service was not widely available yet but I would receive an email once I get "invited". A day later I checked my email and it confirmed that I could now use Google Drive, not as bad as other Google services when they launched (remember Google+ ?).

It might be surprising to see Google decide to launch Google Drive these days since there are a plethora of services that basically do the same thing as Google Drive: Dropbox, SugarSync, Wuala just to name a few (check out my Wuala review here). There was a rumor going around about Google Drive for many years.since 2006 (6 years, an eternity on the Internet!). Note, Google Drive has nothing to do with GMail Drive (not officially from Google) which is a Windows application that can be used to store files on your GMail account. So is it too late for Google to be joining the online storage and sync market?

The Good Stuff About Google Drive

1. They are giving away 5 GB worth of storage for free. Other services offer considerably less, though you can earn more storage if you invite your friends to use as well. Odds are your friends are already using such services making it difficult to get storage through referrals. This is already a big plus compared to the others.

2. You can use Google Drive on a wide range of devices: Windows, Mac, Chrome OS (the OS in Chromebooks) and Android at the moment. A Linux version is coming soon (3rd reply down by Teresa Wu), so is a version for iOS for iPhones and iPads. Depending from which device you visit, Google Drive will let you know if there is an application for your OS:

3. Easier sharing and integration with other Google services. Once your Google account is Google Drive approved, you will no longer have Google Docs since it turns into Google Drive. Google are eventually going to convert Docs accounts into Drive (as shown on the Docs login page). Additionally you will have all and more of the collaboration features that were available on Docs.

4. Feature rich web interface. The interface is quite similar to GMail's default theme and you can use it to upload files AND entire folders if you need to. On some services it can be quite a pain uploading several files (you might need to do it individually) or have a folder upload feature.

5. Developers, developers, developers, developers… Google Drive has created a new ecosystem of applications for the Google Chrome browser. At the moment there are several applications in the Chrome Web Store developed by 3rd party services that allows integration between their stuff and Google Drive.

The Possibly Bad Stuff About Google Drive

1. Privacy. Google Drive shares Google's single privacy policy. Some aspects of the policy includes what they do with the data, how they can use it, who they share it with and more. It is well known that GMail emails are scanned in order to show relevant ads. Some people slam the policies while others say it is similar to those in other services. You be the judge and read the fine print.

2. Some features are missing. Other services allow you to sync multiple folders, perform scheduled backups and more. Though Google Drive is still new and we will see what comes down the road.

3. Related to privacy is encryption. The link between your computer and Google is encrypted, however the files are likely sent as it is to be stored in Google's servers. Wuala for example, encrypts data on YOUR computer before being sent for storage on their servers, making it impossible for them to decrypt the data, unless you give them your password.

4. Loss of data control. When you store data on your computer you know exactly where it is, on your drive. Once you start using cloud based storage you basically no longer know where your data may be stored. Remember that Google have many data centers spread across the world. Is your data in the US or India now? Does Google need to disclose data in those countries?

5. Due to points 1, 3 and 4 I would not store anything sensitive on Google Drive. Actually I would go as far as saying if you value the privacy of your data do not store it online at all!

Although it may seem that Google has joined the cloud sync/backup market a bit late, I believe they have the potential (and money) to improve Google Drive's functionality and features. Time will tell.

One thought on “Google Drive: Too Late or Innovation?”

  1. Meh, I wasn’t particularly impressed. I’ve been on Dropbox for YEARS! What do I see out of GDrive that isn’t available, if not better on other platforms, is the ability to edit (or at least view) a VERY large number of file formats, that you’ll probably rarely care to do from your browser anyways. Other than that, I see it as free extra space to my GDocs. That’s it.

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