Search engine giant Google took the wraps off its long rumored cloud storage service called Google Drive this week. The service has been rumored for years, but is (finally) official. In the interim, several competing services have emerged and even managed to grab significant shares of the market. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Google’s service will stack up. In this article, we’ll be taking Google Drive on a test drive from installation to usage to see if it is a worthy competitor to other popular storage services—and whether it is worth switching to!
How we test
In order to test the service, I installed the Google desktop application (we’ll be taking a look at the mobile app soon) and uploaded a variety of media file types including documents, music, photos, and videos in numerous formats. The test system in question is an Intel i7 860 based system with 8GB of RAM and a wired Ethernet connection to the LAN. The cable ISP I used offers approximately two to three mpbs uploads (real world speeds, 4mbps promised) for those interested.
Google’s cloud service was officially unveiled on Tuesday, but the company is still rolling out activations for people’s accounts (my Google Drive account activated yesterday [April 27, 2012], for example). And it now represents the new single storage bucket for all your Google needs (Picasa, Gmail, Docs, App Inventor, ect; although people can grandfather themselves into the cheaper Picasa online storage).
Old Picasa Storage vs New Google Drive Storage Plans
|Storage Tier (old/new)||Old Plan Pricing (per year)||New Plan Pricing (per year)|
|20 GB/25 GB||$5||$29.88|
|80 GB/100 GB||$20||$59.88|
(Picasa Plans were so much cheaper–hold onto them if you're able to!)
The way Google Drive works is much like that of Dropbox wherein a single folder is synced between Google’s servers and the user’s local machine (though sub-folders are okay to use and the equivalent of "labels" on the Google side). The storage in question is available in several tiers, though the tier that most people will be interested in is the free one. On that front, Google Drive offers 5GB of synced storage, 10GB of Gmail storage, and 1GB of Picasa Web Albums photo backup space. Beyond that, Google is offering nine paid tiers from an additional 25GB of "Drive and Picasa" storage (and 25GB of Gmail email storage) for $2.49 a month to 16TB of Drive and Picasa Web Albums storage with 25GB of Gmail email storage for $799.99 a month. The chart below details all the storage tiers available.
|Storage Tiers||Drive/Picasa Storage||Gmail Storage||Price (per month)|
1024MB = 1GB, 1024GB = 1TB
The above storage numbers do not include the 5GB of free drive storage that is also applied to any paid tiers. The free 1GB of Picasa storage does not carry over to the paid tiers.
Even better, Google has not been stingy with their free storage. They continue to allow users to upload as many photos as they want to Google+ (they are resized to a max of 2048x2048 pixels though). Also, Google Documents stored in the Docs format continue to not count towards the storage quota. Videos uploaded to Google+ under 15 minutes in length are also free from storage limitations. As far as Picasa Web Albums (which also includes photos uploaded to blogger blogs) goes, any images under 2048x2048 and videos under 15 minutes in length do not count towards the storage quota either. If you exceed the storage limit, Google will still allow you to access all of your files, but you will not be able to create any new files until you delete enough files to get below the storage quota. The one exception to that rule is the “storage quota free” file types mentioned above–Google will still let you create/upload those. For Gmail storage, Google allows you to receive and store as much email as you want up to the quota. After you reach the quota, any new email will hard bounce and you will not be able to receive new messages.
In that same vein, Google’s paid tiers are not the cheapest but are still fairly economical. They are less expensive per GB than Dropbox, for example, but are more expensive than Microsoft’s new Skydrive tiers. One issue that many users face with online storage services is the file size limit placed on individual files. While Dropbox places no limits (other than overall storage quota) on individual file size, many other services do. Google offers a compromise to users in the form of 10GB per file size limits. While you won’t be backing up Virtualbox hard drives or drive image backups to Google, they’ll let you backup anything else (within reason).
Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2012 - 08:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: dropbox, storage, free storage, google, google drive
Users of online storage have been spoiled by services like Dropbox, Spider Oak, and Box.com who offer up gobs of free storage space. Before they became prevalent, there was Gmail and rumors of a Google Drive. This Google Drive never really materialized beyond user workarounds to upload files using a program that stored them in Google’s Email service’s approximate 9 GB of space.
Finally, after years of other services entrenching themselves in the market, it seems like Google may be jumping in. If rumors are true, the new online storage service will launch in the middle of next week at the drive.google.com URL. The Google Drive will reportedly offer 5GB of free storage space as well as paid tiers for increased storage levels (pricing unknown). Further, users will be able to access the files via the website and using applications. So far, rumors are pointing to a Windows and Mac OSX application, though it would not be surprising to see an Android app in the future.
I’m excited to see this service finally launch and what Google’s take on online storage will be. My only concern is whether they are jumping into the game at a time when it is too little too late. Sure, everyone and their grandmother likely have at least one Google/Gmail account but many of those people also have Dropbox accounts. The free services that were not really around when the first hints of a Google Drive emerged have not blossomed and dug their roots into the market. Even Apple and Microsoft have beat Google to the punch with cloud storage, so it is going to be an uphill battle for Google requiring something unique in order for it to catch on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to be checking it out, but I believe they are really going to have to knock this out of the park on the first try in order to succeed. Will you be checking it out, and when (if?) you do please report back and let us know what you think of it. How do you think the other free and paid storage services will react to Google entering the market?
Image courtesy pmsyyz via Flickr Creative Commons
Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2012 - 02:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage space, share files, free storage, free space, free, dropbox 1.3.13, dropbox, cloud storage, backup files
Update: Dropbox is still running the beta testing extra space promotion. The latest Experimental Forum Build is version
1.3.15 1.3.19. Dropbox is still running the promotion; however, users from here on out will be limited to 3 GB total extra space. Anyone that got in before 1.3.19 and earned 5 GB will continue to keep the full 5 GB of extra space. More information is available here.
I recently needed some video files from the PC Perspective office, and we decided to use the Dropbox file sharing service to get them to me. i hit a bit of a snag; however, when I realized that I had nowhere near the amount of storage needed. Fortunately, I was able to download the individual files from the shared folder on the Dropbox website. It was sort of a nod at the idea that one can never have too much storage space, however.
That got me searching around the Internet for ideas on how to increase my available storage space for free, and fortunately came across a forum post on the Dropbox website for a beta version of the program wherein they were offering 5 GB of extra (and free!) storage space to those adventurous enough to test out the program by uploading 4.5 GB of photos or videos (which you can rename, move, or delete afterwards if you wish). The extra free space you get will remain even if you move or delete the uploaded photos and after the beta period, barring any unforseen decision change on Dropbox's part. Further, I found the process easy enough that it was worth sharing with our readers who may use the file sharing and backup service themselves.
According to their latest forum post, the new Dropbox beta application is version 1.3.13 (though the beta started at version 1.3) which fixes a few bugs, but more importantly, adds a new feature that automatically uploads photos and videos from SD cards (and other storage devices that store photos and videos in a "DCIM" folder) and other storage devices on the PC application and your Android smart phone using a beta of the Dropbox Android app. The first photo or video upload imported into Dropbox grants you a 500 MB "bonus," and then for every 500 MB of photos and videos that you allow Dropbox to import, they will give you an additional 500 MB of free additional storage space, up to a total of 5 GB (including the starting bonus). Let's get into exactly how you go about auto-importing photos.
On the Windows PC side of things, you will need to download the latest Dropbox beta build which is currently version 1.3.13. Once download from the link in the previous sentence, install it (if you already have the program installed, just install over the previous install), and then log into your account (or create a new one*). Next, make sure that you have AutoPlay enabled via Windows Control Panel (it should be by default). You should be all set to import as many photos and videos as your internet connection can handle to get all your free space. Pop in an SD card or other USB storage device into your computer via USB. Windows should open up an AutoPlay dialog box in response. There should further be a new option in the AutoPlay window titled "Import pictures and videos using Dropbox." Select that and Dropbox will begin uploading them to their cloud storage servers in a new folder called "Camera Uploads." Once the batch of photos are uploaded, Dropbox pops up a notification in notification area (lower right of the window) as seen in the photo above.
You can also use a beta of the Dropbox client on your Android powered smartphone to upload photos and videos to the service, and to apply towards your free Dropbox space. While not yet on the Android Market, you can download the beta application as a .apk file to your phone, and then install it from that downloaded file. The apk package in question is the Dropbox Experimental Android Forum Build 2.0.9 and can be downloaded via a link at the bottom of this article. All that's needed on the Android side of things (at least on my Samsung Infuse 4G), is to start up the application and log in. After that, any photos or videos I take with my phone's camera are automatically uploaded to the dropbox service. Although Google already has a similar automatic uploading service to its Google+ website, the Dropbox application is even a bit more useful because they are not only "in the cloud" but sitting on my desktop at home.
The Android Dropbox beta application
Unfortunately, Linux and Macintosh users are out of luck on the extra free space; however, I'm sure they will get a chance at it when the beta Dropbox application is closer to completion. Now that you know how to get your hands on some free space, go forth and beef up those Dropbox accounts! Some other methods for free space include adding a .edu email account to your account (to make it a Student Account) for an extra 500 MB of storage space an an increase referral bonus of 500 MB per referral, completing the various tutorials and quests on the Dropbox website, and getting referral sign ups. Do you use Dropbox, and if so what do you like (or hate) about it? Community discussion engage!
*Speaking of referrals, this is a referral link that costs you nothing and will give me and you an extra 250 MB of storage space. If; however, you're not into that sort of thing (for some odd reason), you can create a new account by heading over their main website at dropbox.com