Hands on: Google Drive
Google’s cloud storage is finally here, but it surely will not be everything you hoped for.
Online storage is definitely nothing new and Google is surprisingly late at the scene with its new Google Drive service. It offers everyone with a Gmail account 5GB of free online storage. For sure it was already possible to upload any file type to a Google Docs account via your browser. What’s really new is how you can interact with Google’s online space for storing.
Google has released a brand new desktop application which runs within the background and automatically synchronises your files between a folder for your computer and the web Google Drive. It will possibly also sync your files between different computers. There are many other services which already offer this, with Dropbox and SugarSync probably being the preferred. In case you are already using any such, Google Drive probably won’t offer enough to win you over.
It’s obviously early days for Google Drive, but what you believe you studied of Google’s initial offering really depends upon what you were hoping for. Google Drive could also be the recent interface for the Google Docs online office suite, a service which helps you to edit your documents in any browser. Unfortunately the combination between Google Drive and Google Docs is pretty disappointing.
Like I said, your opinion of Google Drive depends on what you wish to have it to do, so I’ll provide you with a short idea of where I’m coming from. i have been using Google Docs for around four years as my primary word processor. I’ve also been using Syncplicity to maintain offline backups of all my Google Docs files, as an insurance plans in case Google Docs or my ISP suffers a vital outage. Along side these i exploit Jungle Disk to automatically backup files together with photos from my various computers to Amazon’s S3 online storage service.
Some people will look to Google Drive as simply a convenient solution to backup all of the important files on their desktop computer. It’s pretty straightforward — just download and install the Google Drive software on your computer, installed your Google login details and it creates a brand new folder. Anything you install that folder is uploaded to Google Drive. Unfortunately you can not point the Google Drive software at your existing folders, when you try you can be told it’s good to select an empty folder. This may frustrate those seeking a degree-n-click backup solution.
To be fair to Google Drive, Dropbox behaves an analogous way (although there are workarounds). That’s because they’re both designed primarily for syncing documents in place of backing up documents. i do know it feels like I’m splitting hairs, but there’s a difference. A web-based backup service simply copies your files to a web-based folder to maintain them safe. A web sync service permits you to create a folder on multiple computers and keep the contents in sync. So for those who change a file on one computer it changes that file at the other computers. Sync services often keep an internet copy, that is a handy backup, but backup is just not their primary job.
Most people are not looking for to restructure the folders on their computer simply to suit a web-based storage service reminiscent of Google Drive. They only wish to point the backup software at their existing My Documents or My Pictures folder and click on go. Google Drive won’t will let you try this, you want to move everything you wish to backup into the Google Drive folder. Another frustration is that the Google Drive desktop software offers no flexibility when it comes to which files are backed up and the way often they’re backed up. Nor are you able to throttle upload speeds to forestall it choking your internet connection (a handy feature in Dropbox and lots other services).
If backup is your primary concern then backup services akin to Jungle Disk, Mozy and Carbonite are less of a trouble than Google Docs and offer much more flexibility. There is no want to shuffle around files in your computer, you only tell the desktop software what to backup and it does the remainder. SugarSync behaves a similar way. Meanwhile Jungle Disk has added Dropbox-style sync features which run alongside its backup features.
I’m not saying that Google Drive is useless, just that you must choose the precise tool for the job reckoning on what you’re seeking to do. Which will keep folders in sync across multiple computers, with the added good thing about an internet copy, then Google Drive can be good for you. Google Docs integration would appear the icing at the cake which can win you across from competitors similar to Dropbox, but Google Drive and Google Docs don’t interact they way you can expect them to.
I hoped that Google Drive would automatically download a replica of all my Google Docs files onto my computer, as an offline backup in case Google suffers an outage. Currently i take advantage of Syncplicity for this, nevertheless it appears like the upgrade to Google Drive has broken it. I also hoped Google Drive would let me upload files from my computer and edit them online within the Google Docs interface. But i used to be disappointed on both counts.
When it involves syncing Google Docs office files, the Google Drive software only downloads a link in your documents and spreadsheets. Click one to open it and you’re taken to the browser to edit the web version. In case you are offline, you’re out of luck. The real file isn’t downloaded for your computer, so it’s useless as an offline backup option. It does however download full copies of different file formats consisting of PDF.
Meanwhile if I create a document on my computer and drop it into the Google Drive sync folder, i will be able to read it online but i can not edit it in Google Docs. So if like me you were hoping for the proper of both worlds, you’ll likely be disappointed. Google Docs does offer an offline mode in Chrome, nevertheless it doesn’t offer an analogous flexibility and protection as an entire standalone offline copy.
To be fair, Microsoft and Apple’s offerings even have their shortcomings. Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Mesh and Office Web Apps don’t full integrate for smooth online and offline editing, although i believe it can get an overhaul. Meanwhile Apple’s iCloud only syncs iWork documents between iGadgets and never with Macs.
It’s early days for Google Docs. I’m by no means writing it off and it appears one of the features I desire are at the roadmap. But straight away it’s fair to assert that Google Drive is way from the killer service that it has the possible to be. Until such time, it is going to struggle to win people far from their current online backup and sync services.