Google is one of my favorite web companies because of all the incredible free apps they offer. They are my go-to for email, calendar and photos, and now they are my first choice for online file storage.
After many months of its rumored existence, Google Drive was finally launched on April 24, 2012. Now that it’s been a little over a month, it’s time to see how Google Drive stacks up against its competitors.
Like all Google products, setting up your Google Drive account is a breeze. Sign in with your Google account and visit drive.google.com/start to get started.
Google Drive’s web app is very similar to Google’s other products. If you are an avid Google users, you’ll feel right at home. If you don’t have the Google Drive desktop app installed, you’ll be prompted to download it if you want; and you can easily tell Google to stop reminding you about it.
Above is my Google Drive in Chrome. I downloaded the desktop client and immediately copied my entire Dropbox over to Google Drive. It was easy and only took an hour or so to upload about 10 GB worth of files. Google Drive kept all of my modified dates intact when I moved files via Windows, which I thought was very neat.
Google Drive Desktop
The desktop app for Google Drive is very similar to Dropbox. After you download and install Google Drive, you’ll be prompted to login with your credentials. You can choose to only sync certain folders to your computer, or you can sync all of them. You can also change the location of your Google Drive folder if you wish (the default location is in your user folder (C:/Users/YourName/Google Drive).
Your folders and files are available inside your Google Drive folder just like a regular Windows folder. You can use Windows Explorer to add and manage files and folders. Google Drive puts small icons on files and folders to signify whether they have been synced or are in the process of syncing, just like Dropbox.
Google Drive Everywhere
One of Google Drive’s best features is that you can access your files anywhere. There is desktop software available for Windows, Mac and Chrome OS, and for Android (iOS is coming soon). You can also access your files at any time by visiting https://drive.google.com.
The Android client is very easy to use and gives you access to your files anytime you need them. You can even enable offline access for your most important files.
Google Drive integrates seamlessly with Google Docs and basically gives you an online office suite. And the best thing of all – files that are in Google Doc format don’t count toward your storage space. So if you convert your Office documents, spreadsheets and presentations to Google Docs formats, you won’t be taking away from your available space.
You can also enable conversion from Office formats to Google Docs formats upon upload, or be asked each time you upload a file.
You can view Office formatted files from the web interface, but you can’t edit them online unless you convert to Google Docs or download to your computer. On the desktop client, however, you can open Office (or other formats) just like you would from a regular folder. From the desktop client, you can view and edit Google Docs by double-clicking the file and it will launch the web interface.
Collaboration with others is easy with Google Docs; you can quickly share files or folders with anyone through the web interface. In addition to sharing, you can integrate apps from the Chrome Web Store into Google Drive to have instant access to your created files.
Don’t forget Google’s incredible search capabilities that are built in. If you’ve forgotten where you stored that spreadsheet, simply search for it and Google Drive will find it for you.
Google Drive also saves file changes while you’re working through the web interface, just in case something happens. You can also go back up to 30 days to find old revisions if you need to.
You get 5 GB of storage space for free. Upgrading your plan is very cheap: 25 GB is only $2.49 per month (less than 10 ¢ per GB) and 100 GB is only $4.99 per month (less than 5¢ per GB). They offer additional plans if you need even more storage space, and you can find information here.
Google Drive’s most popular competitor, Dropbox, is much more expensive when upgrading from the free plan. Dropbox only offers 50 GB ($9.99 per month) and 100 GB ($19.99 per month) for the casual user. While some other competing services offer more free space, there are downsides depending on the service, such as Windows SkyDrive limiting each file to 50 MB.
Another great thing about Google Drive is if you upgrade your storage space, the extra space can be used in Google Drive and Picasa.
Google Drive is an incredible online file storage solution that really blows its competitors out of the water. Personally, I am a fan of all things Google and after using Google Drive for a few days, I completely switched over from Dropbox for my cloud storage needs.
Even if the free 5 GB isn’t enough for you, the paid storage plans are very affordable, giving Google Drive a huge advantage over over services. As long as you’re willing to give Google more and more control over your online life, Google Drive is the best cloud-based file storage service available.