Google's new cloud service has launched. How
does it compare to the stalwarts on the scene?
Now that the abundance of smartphones,
tablets and laptops has given most of us multi-platform access to the internet,
there's a greater demand than ever for services that store our data in the
cloud. After all, it's no good having all your files safely locked up on a
desktop machine if you want to access them on the train, a friend's house or
Although the popularity and abundance of
cloud storage services has been growing ever since Dropbox exploded onto the
scene, it's impossible to ignore the ramifications of a company the size of
Google throwing its hat into the ring. It's a move that seems destined to make
even the casual web user aware of cloud storage.
Drive is being launched hot on the heels of several high-profile flops for the
But there's a reason to be cautious about
this. Google Drive is being launched hot on the heels of several high-profile
flops for the company. Social networking site Google Plus has struggled to gain
a foothold in a world where people are already deeply embedded in their chosen
social media services. Google Wave was humiliatingly sold off and shut down
months after launch, because no one knew what it was for or why it existed.
With strikes like that against the company, you could be forgiven for wondering
whether Google Drive is merely the latest in a parade of high-profile white
That's why we're going to try to determine
whether Google Drive is the real deal or not by comparing its features to those
of its closest competitors. Is it better, worse or merely a little bit
different? And can it prosper when so many of its sister services have
and Spotify already give us the ability to access and retrieve media
Initially, the issue of storage capacity
seems like it would be a key one for cloud storage services. In a world where
we can buy terabyte-scale hard drives for the same price as a half-decent pair
of trainers, there's no shortage of information on our PCs that we might want
to back up and access elsewhere. From MP3 libraries, to downloaded movies and
videos, to our digital photo collections, our data is more valuable than ever
before. That alone means that you could reasonably expect whichever cloud
service offers the most space to immediately trump its rivals.
However, it's also true that the biggest
files - multimedia files - are already easy to get access to, and services like
iTunes and Spotify already give us the ability to access and retrieve media
using just a username and password. For many users, cloud storage instead
offers a way to back up and store the irreplaceable and unique files and
documents they have, rather than data they can simply redownload.
Perhaps that's why Dropbox has prospered
despite initially offering a measly 2GB of space for free. Competitors
initially tried to beat it by offering greater amounts of space: SugarSync
offers 5GB, SkyDrive assigns new users 7GB (but gave initial signups a whopping
25GB when it launched) and Google Drive itself has launched in a similar
league, offering 5GB to new signups. However, space alone doesn't seem to be a
key issue for most users.
That's not to say it's a non-issue. A sure
sign that Dropbox isn't resting on its laurels came just this week, when the
company upped its free storage to 5GB by adding a free 3GB dedicated photo
vault to all accounts. The extra space can't be used for anything except
photos, but it's a clear indication that the company is eager to match its
specs to Google Drive, presumably wary of showing any obvious weakness against
the power a company like Google wields.
Dropbox will give you the extra 3GB of storage space in 500MB