Google Drive Review
Excellent collaboration features through Google Docs. No backup options. Decent file synchronization.
What’s the Skinny on Google Drive?
If you’ve used Google Docs in the past, you’ve used Google Drive. If you have a Gmail account, it takes less than five minutes to have Google Drive working on your computer. If you somehow don’t have a Google account, it only takes seconds to set one up. Google Drive is amazingly easy to get set up and running, it’s easy to use, and it does exactly what you want it to.
That said, Google Drive is not without some issues. We would not recommend using Google Drive as a backup service because essential features are amiss such as automatic backups, scheduling or a decent way to select folders across your operating system.
Is Google Drive worth it? Certainly, if your use of the service is limited. If you’re backing up huge amounts of data regularly, you might want to explore other online backup solutions.
Who Benefits from Unified Services?
Google Drive’s biggest selling point is that it’s a Google service. This means it’s automatically integrated with your other Google services. If you use Google+ Photos or Gmail, you’re already integrated into Google Drive. It still contains all of the old Google Docs services as well. Cloud-based storage for spreadsheets, documents and images is incredibly useful for some people.
If you’re a salesman on the go, you can benefit from Google Drive. If you’re using it to share data with coworkers or family members, you’ll find it a quick and easy to use service.
On the other hand, you’ll find it distressingly limited when working through the web interface on certain types of files. Even simple MSWord documents need to be converted into Google Docs to be read or edited online. You can always download, edit and reupload the file easily enough, but that may be an extra time-consuming hassle for some people.
Everyone knows what Google is, but few know the full range of services they offer. Google began as a search engine in 1998 and has been expanding ever since. In 2005, Google acquired Writely, and they launched Google Spreadsheets in 2006. These services, among others, became known as the Google Docs tools, or Google Office suite. They were primarily geared to be a web-based cloud storage replacement for the Microsoft Office suite and its competitors.
In 2012, Google decided to lump these services together with their idea of cloud data backup, calling the whole conglomeration Google Drive. The service has changed somewhat over the last year, and like all Google products, will continue to evolve over the coming years. Google is never satisfied with how one service works, and they’re always looking to improve the quality of the services they provide.
Storing your files with Google Drive
Google Drive should not be considered an online backup per se. There is way to monitor a folder your created on your computer and upload it to Google Drive whenever you make some changes. Thus, you cannot schedule backups when you’re at work or make use of features other real backup solutions have to offer.
Google Drive works in a number of ways. You can access the system through their web interface and create a document with a few clicks. Saving that document places it on the Drive, and you can share it with other Google users.
For uploading existing data, you will need to download Google’s Drive for Desktop. It’s a tiny app that installs into your computer and creates a web-linked folder. You’ll need to sign in to your Google account to use it, which becomes one limitation for those who manage multiple Google accounts.
Once this Google Drive folder is set up, you can simple drag and drop files into it to share them on the drive. As long as Google Drive is running on your computer, and you’re connected to the Internet, your Drive is synced and your data is online. You an access it through your computer or through the web interfaces.
As mentioned above, Google will need to convert most file types to ones they can read when using the web interface. Thankfully, this doesn’t convert the file itself — it merely creates a copy with the new file type.
Retrieving your files in case of data loss
File retrieval is exactly the same as uploading. As long as you’re connected to the Internet and have Google Drive for Desktop running, you can simply drag a file from the Drive folder to a local folder and wait for it to download.
The process is a little different for downloading items in Google’s special file types. Without Google Drive, your computer won’t know how to handle a .gsheet file – Google’s spreadsheet file type – for example. With Google Drive installed, it associates the file type with a web application. That means when you want to access a locally-stored .gsheet file, it will open your browser window to Google Drive and open the file there. If you don’t have an Internet connection, it won’t open.
This is a huge drawback to Google Drive as a backup solution. If you uploaded a bunch of files, converted them into Google formats, then deleted the originals, you would be stuck when offline. There is no way to view those files without an Internet connection. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for the kind of person who wants to use Google
Google Drive is Google attempting to unify their solutions for Internet-savvy consumers. That means it has a few unique features.
- Free and easy. If you have a Gmail account, you have a Drive account, with no extra setup necessary to use basic features
- Easy sync and sharing. As long as you’re connected to the Internet, Google Drive is syncing. You don’t have to schedule syncs or force a manual sync
- App integration. From the moment Drive launched, there were already apps in the Chrome store that worked with it. Google’s API allows app developers to make use of Drive specifically, which gives it quite a range of expandable features
The web interface. Google Drive can be accessed online, even from computers you don’t install the Drive for Desktop application on. Your data is never lost to you, though only select files can be directly edited through the web interface
All in all, Google Drive is a solid system. It’s possibly the easiest software to set up and install a part from Dropbox. It’s very intuitive to use. It’s deeply integrated with other Google services, which is a benefit to the more tech-savvy crowd who already use those other services. Plus, as a Google service, it’s only going to get better. Google loves to improve their software to make users happier. A basic example of this is storage capacity. When Google Drive launched, you could only store up to 5 GB on the cloud. Now, your free capacity is up to 15 GB.
Is Google Drive the best solution? That depends on your personal feelings about Google. Google’s services are useful though they have a habit of buying their competition to improve their own products. Then again, every time they acquire a new company, one of their products gets better. That’s one thing you can count on with Google Drive: it will always get better.
Google Drive is not a real backup solution and you shouldn’t solely rely on it. Key features such as local encryption and backup scheduling are missing. If you can live without it, Google Drive may be something for you.
|Google Drive Features|
|Free Storage||15 GB|
|Price||Starts from $ 1.99 per month|
|Free External HD Backup|
|Bare Metal Backup|
|Exclude File Extensions for Backup|
|File Size Limit||16 GB|
|Share Photo Albums|
|Server Side Encryption||256-bit|
|Keeps deleted files||30|