Although a late entrant to cloud storage, Google’s Drive is a strong contender in the segment. Google aims for Drive to have a similar story as that of Gmail, which as a product, proved to be a turning point for email services even when Hotmail, Yahoo and other players were already sitting with million of users. Looking at the pricing and feature set, Google Drive might do the same for cloud storage services.
Its fairly simple to get started with it, simply head to www.drive.google.com and sign-in with your Google account. Instantly you would see a two pane interface with some files in the root “My Drive” folder. For any files that were shared with you in Google Docs, you can see them in the “Shared with me” folder.
However, does it really have the feature set that would make it a mass usage service? After spending a week using the service, here are 10 points that we loved in the service and 5 things that we hated.
|Monthly Rates||Google Drive||Dropbox|
|1 TB||$49.99||$795 (Team Plan)|
25GB for a mere US$ 2.49 per month (less than INR Rs 150) makes Google Drive the best service in terms of cost per GB among its competitors. In contrast, the cheapest plan of Dropbox the current king of cloud storage, starts at $10/month for 50GB which is 50% more than Drive. This difference in the pricing further increases if you opt for higher plans.
If you are already a paid subscriber of other Google services, you automatically get 25GB storage in your Google Drive account without paying anything extra.
2. Extended support for file types
Although every cloud service allows you to save almost every type of file you want, Google Drive goes a step ahead by adding support for opening various file formats within the browser itself! The best part is that you do not even need to install the corresponding application on your computer to open the file.
For example, Google Drive supports opening of Photoshop files (.PSD), so one can view saved Photoshop files from within Google Drive even if you do not have Photoshop itself installed in your computer.
3. Intuitive User Interface
The user interface has absolutely no learning curve. Just like GMail or Google Docs, you will feel at home with the exact same two pane interface for viewing and working around with files. Even if you have never used Google Docs, the interface is very basic and takes just a few minutes to get comfortable.
4. Online Documents Editing Capabilities
Google Drive essentially replaces Google Docs. However, it is not eliminated, its just integrated with Google Drive. You can open and edit document files in the same manner as it worked on Google Docs. This online editing capability turns is very useful as it saves you from having to carry your laptop or download a document file again and again to edit.
As Drive has Docs integrated, it also allows for online collaboration work. Share the document files you want to collaborate on with other and you will be able to see changes made by others instantly. If you share any other format file with others, you can still view and add comments regarding the file and get notifications for the same.
6. Document Revision history
A little feature, but very useful for those who do a lot of online document editing. Every time you save data on any document file, Google Drive saves it as a revision, instead of overwriting the file. A user can then choose to go back upto 30 days to a revision copy of the documents if required.
7. Integration with Google Services
Seamless integration of Drive with other Google services is pretty amazing. On Google+ you can attach photos/videos already uploaded to your Drive account. You can even send a file directly as an email attachment and choose the viewing format of the file. For example, if you are sending an Excel file, you can choose to send it as a PDF if you do not want any changes to be made by the viewer.
8. Optical Character Recognition
Another interesting aspect is the integration of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) within Drive. Using OCR, Drive lets you extract text from any image with text and saves it separately. It turned out to be very useful for working with online forms that are usually un editable. From the files that we uploaded, Drive was able to extract over 80% of the text clearly – quite impressive.
9. Superior Search
With so much storage and multiple files uploaded, it becomes hard to find a specific file from the entire cluster. Drive makes it simpler by providing additional options in the search bar. Tap the drop down arrow on the right corner of the bar after entering you search term and it will give you options to filter out the results by file type, its visibility among your network and by the file’s ownership.
1. Lack of Support for iOS / BlackBerry / Windows Phone Devices
Google has given preference to its own Android platform and there is a Drive app from day one of its launch. However, the number of iOS/BlackBerry/Windows Phone and even Symbian devices is large and the lack of a dedicated app for these platforms is a turn off. (An iOS app is expected to arrive soon, but no fixed date has been announced)
2. Convert Files to Edit
As mentioned above, Drive lets you edit Google Docs files seamlessly, however if you want to edit a Microsoft office document, you will need to convert and import it first to Google Docs and only then you can edit it. We like Google Docs, but going through this process for ever document is just too tedious a process.
The files uploaded on Google Drive are not encrypted for security and can be easily accessed using third party compatible apps. Google has its own clarification that OCR will not work on files if they are encrypted, but we will not be storing any important files on Drive for now.
4. No Support for Multiple Accounts
Currently, the desktop application supports only one Google account. Even if you use multiple Google accounts, you can only choose one account to sync with your computer using the application. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon by Google.
As a cloud service, Google Drive does offer a number of unique points that makes it better than the rest. However, it has its share of issues as well. We do expect Google to sort them up in the near future as most user’s would notice these and complain about them.
Will we shift completely to Google Drive?
No. It does offer a lot of things, but not everything and hence we would prefer to use it along with other existing service such as Dropbox, SkyDrive or Box.net. That said, for a first time user of cloud service, we would recommend Google Drive as the first choice owing to its simplicity, user interface and sheer value for money.
How many of you have used Drive? Do you use it in parallel to other services such as Dropbox or have completely shifted your files to it?