Monday, April 30, 2012

Google Drive: Cloud Computing for the Common Man






Google launched its cloud storage device a couple of days back, handing over a total of 5 GB free storage space for all users.





Overview

Google Drive, the latest new Google's introduction to the cloud technology, has been welcomed in a variety of ways. Many welcomed it with a smile and much enthusiasm, some were skeptic and concerned with its functionality, and others were somewhat nonchalant.

This service is available to everyone. Initially you get 5GB free storage and can upgrade to greater bytes for a fee. The amounts are fairly reasonable







5GB storage space is just about right. Eliminates the need to carry a USB/flash drive around. 

Note: If you are an already paid user of Picasa services then you automatically get 25GB (without extra fee)




Personal Take

Personally, I was rather enthusiastic when getting my mail of invitation. The enthusiasm soon died when I began to think of the other cloud services already offered by Google. This wasn't all that unique as I had perceived it to be. 

The name Google Drive, at first look, seems like something related to the automobile industry. Many of you wouldn't have guessed it would be the name of a cloud service. It is named so to symbolically suggest that soon Google Drive will be replacing your HDD (Hard Disk Drive).

Initial Thoughts

Google already offers Picasa for photosharing and storage, and Google Docs for a keeping and maintaining and sharing documents/presentations/spreadsheets/etc. Looking at all these, Google Drive seems like just an extra to these already existing cloud service. 

The fact to consider is that Google Drive is the beginning step of Google's idea to integrate all these services into one. If you have noticed, there is no separate page Google Docs available anymore. docs.google.com now redirects to drive.google.com




Usage

It is simple to use and very clear in its features. There are no confusing settings to go through to assign sharing aspects and the upload of files/folders is clean and fast. 

You can install a Google Drive folder to your desktop and upload files directly from desktop instead of using your browser. This is exactly like having your Ubuntu One folder or Dropbox.  But Unfortunately this feature is not available for Linux OS (yet?)





Security


Cloud Computing is a fairly new term for most people. Most of them have been reaping the benefits of this service without knowing proper term. As with all new technologies, people began to panic and skepticize and doubt them. There were a lot of security concerns with Google Drive. Mostly because of Google's Privacy Policy, one policy for all services.


Google's new policy scared most people, they thought the amount of privacy protection would decrease and google would have access you everything you do on the internet. 

This is false.


what's yours remains your's
For those of you who have not read the privacy policy, let me ensure you that your personal data will not be taken by google to be used elsewhere. The policy clearly suggest that whatever 'intellectual property' you submit/store on google will be untouched. To quote them : what In short, what belongs to you stays yours.




Sharing

The sharing feature for Google Drive is almost alike the one we had for Google Docs. You can allow selective people to view certain files and also give them permission to edit them (with the many editing options of Google Docs). In short, you chose how you want to share your data.

Google Drive allows collaboration between two people at once, so you can work on the same document with another person simultaneously. No matter how far away the other person it, you can see what changes they make instantaneously.

The files from Google Drive can be shared via Google Plus. Any photo's video's on your Drive can be easily uploaded to Google Plus. You can also allow certain apps to have access to your Drive, personally I don't recommend this.


Google has also integrated its powerful search mechanism to Google Drive. Searching for a file is made tremendously simple.




File Support

Google Drive supports many of the commonly used file extensions. It is said to support over 30 extensions, and there is a great possibility that that number will keep increasing. The service also allows you to convert certain files to make it google docs compatible.


Since it supports many common file extensions, you can open any such files on any system you like. You need not have that software that reads the certain type of file.



Final Say

This is a pretty useful service with a decent amount of free storage given. You can access, share and edit files on the go, and feel free of the fear of any physical loss of device. Because all your data will be safe. 

But do be careful and mindful of your 'file sharing' settings. This is not your personal hard drive but the Internet. Once something is out there (public), its there for ever.

Google Drive is a good service for those who constantly lose their flash drive. May it be a physical loss or a virus/malware problem. School/college students would find this service useful, and the free storage amount will be just about right.




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