If your business is in the market for an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform, you’ve likely come across the bigger names like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft Azure. Google Cloud is Google’s take on IaaS, and although it’s not quite as robust as AWS yet, it’s grown into a decent cloud computing platform. In this Google Cloud review, we’ll be focusing on its storage capabilities to see how it stacks up.
- Google Cloud is an IaaS service providing remote computing and cloud storage capabilities.
- Its cloud storage is very easy to use, even though the rest of the platform can be confusing.
- Google Cloud’s pricing structure is a bit difficult to understand, which can cause issues down the line, and you might incur unexpected expenses because of this lack of clarity.
- Google’s security is among the best in the IaaS game and even includes zero-knowledge encryption for buckets.
To this end, we’ll focus on the areas that matter most for storage purposes, such as pricing, server spread and security to test the Google Cloud services to their limits. Stick around for our deep dive in this Google Cloud platform review.
01/01/2022 Facts checked
We updated our review with current info, including the latest pricing and developments in Google Cloud’s server network.
Google Cloud is Google’s IaaS platform, intended for business use. It offers cloud computing and web hosting services, though you can also use it as an affordable cloud backup solution if you pair it with a backup app like CloudBerry Backup (MSP360).
No, Google Cloud is still a ways behind more established IaaS competitors like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, despite being more expensive.
Google Cloud is a reliable service, built on top of Google’s worldwide storage infrastructure and guaranteeing 99.9% uptime and reliable access.
No, despite being more difficult to use for developers than AWS, Google Cloud is still more than capable as an infrastructure platform, and it’s definitely not a failure.
Google Cloud Review: Alternatives
Google Cloud Strengths & Weaknesses
- Worldwide server network
- Impressive speeds
- Competitive pricing
- Easy integration with other Google services
- $300 credit for transfers upon account creation
- Not easy to use
- Requires more programming knowledge than competitors
- Expensive support
- Internal app pricing doesn’t scale well
- Tutorials lack enough detail
- Expensive usage rates
Google Cloud’s pricing seems good if we’re only looking at storage rates. In fact, it’s pretty much on par with Amazon S3’s pricing. It’s only when it comes to usage rates that things start to fall apart. In our opinion, Google’s pricing structure is needlessly convoluted, which can end up costing you if unexpected transactions arise.
Google Cloud Storage Rates
The Google Cloud platform offers competitive data storage rates for its cloud services, though they vary with region and storage type.
For North America, the cheapest prices are in Iowa and South Carolina, servicing the central and eastern regions of the United States, respectively. The monthly price of cloud storage here is $0.020 per GB for standard storage, $0.010 per GB for nearline storage, $0.004 per GB for cold storage and $0.0012 per GB for archiving.
However, you need to keep in mind that all storage types — apart from standard storage — also have a minimum storage duration. The durations are 30 days for nearline storage, 90 days for cold storage and 365 days for archival storage. If you try to delete or edit your stored data before these periods are up, you will incur additional fees.
|Standard Storage||Nearline Storage||Coldline Storage||Archive Storage|
All prices are per GB per month.
Google Cloud Usage Rates
Google Cloud’s usage rates can be divided into egress costs and operations costs. Egress refers to moving your stored data to another server or server region, including removing it from the Google Cloud platform. Operation costs are the fees you pay for data operations within the server, including uploading, copying, downloading or deleting files.
1. Egress Rates
Egress costs vary depending on where you’re moving data to and from. In several cases, egress fees are free. This includes moving data within the same location, moving data between locations in a dual-region, and moving data to and from a multi-region server, as long as the target and destination servers are on the same continent.
If you’re moving data between servers on the same continent but none of the above is true, then the fee amounts to $0.01 per GB. However, if you’re transferring to another continent, fees will depend on the destination and the amount of data to be transferred. The fees range from $0.08 per GB at the cheapest to $0.23 per GB at the high end.
2. Operation Rates
If you thought the pricing couldn’t get any more complicated, operation rates also come with extra subdivisions. These operation classes are Class A, Class B and free operations. The free operations are the ones you get with your free trial. You get 5,000 Class A operations and 50,000 Class B operations for free.
We won’t go into the specifics of the different operation classes (you can go to the Google Cloud pricing page for that), but suffice it to say they can cost anywhere between $0.004 for Class B operations on standard storage, to $0.50 for Class A operations on archive storage. This is some order of magnitude more expensive than Amazon S3’s pricing.
Google Cloud Always Free
Upon creating your account, you get a free trial period of 90 days before you have to pay a subscription fee, as well as 5GB of storage and $300 in credit that you can use for operations and testing out features. You also get a certain number of free operations that we already covered.
However, you get to keep all these benefits even on a paid plan. This means that you don’t get charged for the first 5GB of storage, or the first 5,000 Class A operations or 50,000 Class B operations you perform. However, keep in mind these rates apply for the U.S. and different regions might have different free usage limits.
The Google Cloud platform uses Google’s worldwide network of servers for storage and remote computing. The network keeps expanding, but currently encompasses 29 different server locations for plans for 10 more in the near future.
Concerning server spread, North America gets nine servers, there are seven servers in Europe, nine in Asia and two in Australia. South America also has two servers, but there are no servers in Africa at all.
All in all, Google Cloud has more servers than Amazon S3, though Amazon’s network at least covers Africa, too. However, both cloud providers are handily outclassed by Microsoft Azure’s gargantuan server network.
Google Cloud proved to be one of the top performers in our speed tests. The service hit maximum speeds quickly and reliably when both downloading and uploading. Speeds remained stable upon hitting the top speed for the duration of our testing. Here are the results of our speed tests performed by downloading and uploading a 5GB test folder over a 100 Mbps symmetrical connection.
|First attempt:||Second attempt:||Average:|
Besides these impressive download and upload speeds, the web console itself is very responsive and pages load near-instantly, which we attribute mostly to Google’s worldwide network of data centers.
Google Cloud uses the same infrastructure that drives Google’s other services like Google Search and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). This gives it a huge leg-up in terms of performance over other cloud providers like Backblaze B2 or Wasabi that only operates a single data center in any given region.
Ease of Use
If you’re using the Google Cloud platform purely for its cloud storage, then it’s incredibly easy to get into. To store files on Google Cloud’s cloud storage servers, you first need to create a bucket. Creating one is a simple process, involving a few self-explanatory steps, like naming your bucket and choosing a server location. Then, it’s just a matter of uploading your files by dragging and dropping them.
Of course, all of this is done via the web interface, which means there’s no way to automate the process without the use of non-Google products. Below, we’ll show you how to set up Google Cloud to work with CloudBerry Backup (MSP360) to automate your backups.
- Open the Storage Settings in the Console
From the console, open the hamburger menu and scroll down to “cloud storage.” Hovering over that button will reveal the “settings” menu. Click on “settings” to get to the next step.
- Open the “Interoperability” Tab
In the “settings” menu, click on the tab called “interoperability.”
- Create Your Security Keys
In the “interoperability” tab, click on “create a key for a service account.” This will generate two keys: an access key and a secret key. You’ll need both of these to connect your CloudBerry app to Google Cloud. Note that the secret key disappears after you close the window, so make sure to copy it immediately and save it somewhere.
- Connect CloudBerry Backup to Google Cloud
In the CloudBerry app, create a new backup plan and follow the steps in the wizard. Just select Google Cloud from the list of available services and enter your access and security keys.
Using the Web Console
Google Cloud’s web console is a mix of a well-designed interface that’s easy to get around and an absolute dearth of guidance as to what to do once you get somewhere. It’s clearly made with developers in mind, and it’s not necessarily friendly to beginners and non-programmers, unlike AWS’s comparatively easy-to-use UI.
In any case, you get access to several services including:
- Storage — Google’s cloud-based object storage
- BigQuery — Tool for big data analytics
- Compute Engine — Remote computing tool and virtual machines
- Cloud Functions — Task automation service
- App Engine — Platform for web applications
- VertexAI — Google’s unified machine learning suite
- Database tools — Google Cloud offers built-in management tools for various types of databases
- Micro VPS instances — Easily configurable virtual private servers
- Networking tools — Manage other users’ network settings from VPNs to DNS and the ability to share data
However, you’re not left completely to your own devices. There is a helpful “getting started” menu, which guides you through a few simple tasks to help get you acquainted with the interface. Unfortunately, you can only access these guides from the console’s home screen, and we’d like to see similar guides when you launch a Google Cloud service, or at least a few tool tips to let you know what all the buttons do.
Google Cloud Command Line Tools
Google Cloud’s command line allows you to automate your workflow by using scripts. You can perform basic tasks on your cloud storage, manage your buckets, create virtual machines or deploy apps. Plus, there are specific command-line tools for each Google Cloud application that let you automate work within those applications, like “kubectl” for Kubernetes or “bq” for BigQuery.
Google Cloud encrypts your data at rest with AES 256-bit encryption and uses TLS to encrypt your data while in transit — pretty standard so far. It also allows for two-factor authentication and integration with SSO services.
However, Google is one of the largest tech companies in the world, which brings with it an extra assurance of security. In other words, you can expect impenetrable server security, as well as hardware fail-safes in case a server stack malfunctions.
Additionally, you can secure each individual bucket with your own private encryption key. We call this zero-knowledge encryption, and it makes sure that not even Google itself can access the data that’s in your buckets.
Finally, Google Cloud provides all the tools and features you need for compliance with data management standards such as HIPAA and GDPR.
Like most other IaaS services, Google Cloud includes only rudimentary support in its billing plans. To access better tech support, you need to pay, and it’s not cheap either.
The cheapest support plan costs $29 a month, which is exactly what Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure charge. However, this tier doesn’t include 24/7 support, so it’s not suited for dealing with emergencies. It’s also available exclusively in English.
The next support tier has better options, including faster response times and a 24/7 emergency hotline. In addition to English, it features support in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean. However, it also ramps the price up to $500 dollar per month, which is five times what Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure charge for advanced support.
There’s another tier that comes with an account manager, training, customer-oriented support and other goodies. To get it, you need to contact support for an estimate, but we imagine the cost is exponentially higher.
Google Cloud may be difficult to understand, but we hope this Google Cloud Platform review helped clear things up for you. Despite making strides since we last reviewed the cloud computing platform, Google Cloud still has prohibitive pricing, especially for its support.
What are your thoughts on Google Cloud? Do you find its price off-putting? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.