With Google unveiling Google Drive yesterday, consumers have never had so much choice in who to use for their cloud storage needs. Whilst the ubiquitous Dropbox has been around since 2008, this market is becoming increasingly competitive with Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Sony PlayMemories and Box amongst other options. Whilst storage like usb pen drives and external drives are still popular, an increasing amount of people now access their data from the cloud through their smart phones, tablets and computers away from home.
Announced late yesterday, Google Drive allows users to store any file format they like on Google’s cloud services while simultaneously tying in to existing services like Google Docs.
Due to being so late to the party, Google is looking to distinguish itself in the crowded cloud storage market. Possibly the biggest bonus of Google Drive compared to rival services is the use of optical character recognition (OCR) technology to make the contents of scanned documents searchable and image recognition similar to Google Image Search to make photographs findable by keyword.
The Drive software itself is currently available for Windows, Mac, and Android, with iOS and Linux versions in the works. For now the application programming interfaces (APIs) for accessing Google Drive are currently only suitable for programming web apps.
Google’s initial offering of 5GB of free space is fairly generous, however rival SkyDrive from Microsoft offers 7GB or up to 25GB free for previous users for a limited time, although the popular Dropbox offers a mere 2GB. With a bit of tinkering and referrals, though, it’s possible to convince Dropbox to give you up to 32gb, and business-oriented Box – formerly known as Box.net – often runs promotions for 50GB of free space for life.
Google’s pricing for more storage is fairly competitive, £1.50 ($2.49) a month gets users 25GB, £3.00 ($4.99) gets 100GB and 1TB costs £30.00 ($49.99) per month.
Finally as a bonus, users who choose to upgrade to a paid plan will see their Gmail storage increased to 25GB.