What’s the latest trend in modern computing? Everybody wants to give you online storage space. It’s like Public Storage for your files.
The first month isn’t free. It’s the first few gigabytes of storage that are free. Remember iDisk? Other than being frightfully slow, iDisk was useful. Then along came Dropbox, which was very useful and getting more so. Apple followed suit with iCloud, which mostly hides in the background. Microsoft comes to the Mac with SkyDrive. And Google has Google Drive.
They all have one thing in common. Free space to store your files. Here’s a look at the latest from the search engine giant, Google Drive.
Typical Google: Blah, Bleh, Meh
The first thing you get after downloading and installing the Google Drive app for Mac is a dialog box to enter your Google account information. It also asks for your cell phone number.
Be careful. The startup windows disappear quickly, but you can bring Google Drive to the front by clicking on the icon in the Menubar.
Google Drive puts a folder on your Mac. Drop files into it and they’re synced up to Google Drive in the cloud (similar to Dropbox and SkyDrive). It works pretty much like any folder on your Mac.
Drag and drop folders to the Google Drive folder. Drag files out. Rename files. Replace files or folders, or change the hierarchy. In other words, do with files and folders as you would in your Documents folder.
Any changes to the files and folders in Google Drive are immediately synced up to the online storage, and, if you have other devices synced to Google Drive, they get the updates, too.
Devices? Yes. Mac and PC. Google promises a Google Drive app for the iPhone and iPad soon. And, of course, if you have the right Android phone. There’s also an option, just like Dropbox and SkyDrive, to view your Google Drive files in a browser window.
All this is free for up to 5 gigabytes of storage. 25 gigabytes will cost you $2.49 a month ($21 a year). 100 gigabytes is $4.99 a month. One terabyte of storage on Google Drive is $50 a month, so their bulk pricing is competitive.
Compare that to Amazon’s S3 storage which is 12.5-cents per gigabyte for the first terabyte per month, which is only $12.50 per month, but there are charges for bandwidth in and out, requests, and there’s no Amazon app (try Arq for Amazon).
The real value of Dropbox is the number of 3rd party apps which have Dropbox storage built-in so they automatically store your files. For now, there’s not many apps for SkyDrive or Google Drive, though you can use each manually. Apple’s own apps can use iCloud automatically, and other app developers are now adding iCloud storage.
I’m concerned about using Google Drive because the company is notorious for snooping through customer files. Oh, wait. My bad. We’re not the customer to Google. We’re the product.