Google: 5GB of Free Cloud Storage for Google Drive Users */?> Google: 5GB of Free Cloud Storage for Google Drive Users

Posted by · April 25, 2012 5:11 pm

Google Drive

Too much or not, Google officially launched its cloud storage service, known as Google Drive (also a hot topic on this week’s podcast), on Tuesday. A clear response to services such as Dropbox, SkyDrive and Amazon Cloud, Google Drive allows anyone with a Google account to upload, share, and work with others on files saved to his or her Google Drive account.  To sweeten the deal, Google announced during the unveil that the first 5GB of storage is free.

“Google Drive is everywhere you are—on the web, in your home, at the office and on the go,” the service home page announces. “So wherever you are, your stuff is just…there. Ready to go, ready to share.”

Watch the Google Drive video here:

In addition to five gigs of free storage upfront, Google has chosen to promote Google Drive for its possession of three critical characteristics.

Universal Access

Well, almost. Although Google tells users that they’ll be able to access Google Drive everywhere, there are a couple exceptions. While PCs, Macs and Android devices should have no problem taking advantage of Google Drive, only the Mac users who happen to use non-Apple smartphones and tablets will actually be able to take full advantage of the “everywhere you are” type of service that the cloud storage service promotes.

That is, until Google Drive becomes available for the iPhone and the iPad—a capability that Google insists is on its way—people who primarily or exclusively use Apple might want to hold off until Google fulfills its promise. However, if you’re more of a PC guy or gal, Google Drive really will let you access your files from anywhere—including when you’re on the go.

Safe Storage

Again, this depends on who Google is talking to, or rather, what your definition of “safe” is. Yes, Google Drive will ensure that its users will have access to their files regardless of the untimely death or mutilation of a given device. However, when Google says that user files are “safely stored” when they use Google Drive, privacy advocates suggest that this is not an entirely valid statement.

“The terms of service are bad, but even worse is that Google has made clear it will change its terms of service whenever it wishes,” noted Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), recalling the unilateral policy consolidation move by Google back in March.

With the release of Google Drive, Rotenberg and others like him are concerned about further changes Google might make to its policy—this time with massive stores of user files on its servers. That is, even though Google’s current terms expressly state that “what belongs to you stays yours,” Google’s decision to restructure its policies despite considerable user resistance—not to mention its encoded practice of retaining and using customer information after users cancel—has left many worried that it’s only a matter of time before it happens again.

Noting Google’s possession of user emails, web activity data and search terms, a participant in Dropbox’s online forum asked, “Do I really want to give them even more data?”

Echoing that user’s point, another chimed in, “I’m not excited about Google having more data points on my life via the files I will be storing in their cloud.”

While Google maintains that such concerns are unfounded—citing what it sees as similar language used by Microsoft and Dropbox in their respective terms of use—the presence of such apprehension among users could prove problematic for Google, especially if it decides to change its policies again.

Project Collaboration

Nevertheless, perhaps the most exciting part about Google Drive—other than 5GB of free storage—is its emphasis on collaboration.

“Google Drive lets you do more than just store your files,” the homepage continues. “Share files with exactly who you want and edit them together from any device.”

The major selling point of this feature is the ability to not only share files but attach comments.

“I confess that I felt a little awkward commenting back and forth within Drive,” notes PC Magazine’s Mark Hachman, “but, clearly, this is a legacy feature from Google Docs. And in that case, collaborating on a project, presentation or documents [sic] feels much more natural.”

Have you tried Google Drive yet? If so, what are your initial impressions about Google’s new cloud storage service? Do the pros outweigh the cons?

For more on Google Drive . . .