Google Drive has been rumored to be coming for years, but
it's finally here and anyone with a Google account has 5GB of online file
storage space too.
You still get 10GB for Gmail and space for Picasa photos
too, and those accounts do not use Google Drive. Google Docs uses Drive, but
only your other files are counted against the space allocation. If 5GB is
insufficient for your storage needs, for $2.49 a month you can have 25GB for
Drive and Picasa and for $4.99 a month you get 100GB. Paid accounts increase
the Gmail storage to 25GB too.
Most of the features are online, like the ability to access previous
versions of files
Drive can be accessed from any device with a web browser,
but like the other services on test, installing the software on your computer
enables you to create a folder that mirrors every file stored online. The
software is available for Windows and Apple Macs, but not Linux. There have
been hints that a Linux version is being worked on, but no announcements have
yet been made. This gives Dropbox and Wuala an advantage, because they support
Linux. Also, there isn't an iOS app for iPhones/iPads, although one is
promised. This is another disadvantage and most other services have good apps
for iOS devices.
The software creates a folder on the disk drive and adds an
icon to the right side of the taskbar. Syncing the folder on your computer with
your online storage is automatic and reasonably quick. Any file you place in
the Google Drive folder is automatically copied to the online storage space and
files online are downloaded. Drive can be installed on multiple computers and
the folder is always identical and kept in sync. It's possible to sync only
selected folders, which could be used to store large videos in the Google Drive
folder, but not to sync them, for example. They will exist only on the PC's
A useful feature is the ability to double-click a Google
Docs file in folder on your PC to open it in a web browser for editing. Like
the other services, deleted files are stored in a trash folder online, so if
you lose a file, you can recover it using Google Drive in a web browser.
Previous versions of files are stored online too, so if you make changes to a
document and want to undo them, you can revert to a version saved last week,
last month or whenever.
Files stored in Drive can be shared, but it isn't as
straightforward as with some others. Sharing has to be done online and it's
geared more towards collaborative working on Google Documents than for sharing
files like photos and videos. Dropbox, for example, provides a link you can
email someone who can then download the file. Unlike SkyDrive, Google Drive
does nothing special with photos, which is disappointing.
Google Drive is great for Google Docs, but it lacks an iOS
app, Linux support, and fun features like photo slideshows. Rivals offer more
Google Drive shows your Google Docs and you can edit them by double-clicking
Required spec: Windows XP or later / Mac OS
X 10.6 or later, 5GB HDD space