Google Drive

Ex­plor­ing the search gi­ant’s cloud stor­age of­fer­ing…

Mac Format - - CLOUD SYNCING -

GWhat is it? The cloud stor­age com­po­nent of Google’s wide-rang­ing suite of in­ter­net tools, of­fer­ing a gen­er­ous amount of free stor­age, and link­ing in with the company’s on­line pro­duc­tiv­ity suite. What does itwo rk­with? You can ac­cess Google Drive from any mod­ern web browser on a Mac, PC or Linux ma­chine. There’s also a small, free down­load­able app that sits in your menu bar to al­low quick ac­cess and file sync­ing, as well as there be­ing a ded­i­cated app for iOS and An­droid, too. oogle was the first company to re­ally pop­u­larise on­line stor­age for the masses when it in­tro­duced Gmail with its 1GB of free email stor­age, at a time when other providers were charg­ing much more for much less space. Not only that, your al­lo­ca­tion of space would con­tinue to grow au­to­mat­i­cally over time, and in­deed it still does. Per­haps to a greater ex­tent than any other company, Google’s fo­cus is the web, and its sheer size and deep pock­ets mean that it’s been able to build vast server farms. Google’s in­ter­est is in keep­ing you on­line and get­ting you to use its ser­vices, so what it of­fers for free is gen­er­ous – even though you should keep in mind that it makes money by scan­ning the con­tent of your email for ad-re­lated terms.

Google Drive is a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of Gmail: once you’ve built such a large-scale stor­age sys­tem for mail, adding user-ac­ces­si­ble cloud stor­age is a rel­a­tively sim­ple task. The con­cept is not dis­sim­i­lar to iCloud Drive or Drop­box in that you get to ac­cess your stuff in a va­ri­ety of ways from dif­fer­ent de­vices. The ba­sic free ac­count gives you 15GB of space (which is pretty good) and if you’ve been with Google for a long time this may ac­tu­ally be larger, since ac­cu­mu­lated stor­age up­grades through pro­mo­tions and other give­aways have been al­lowed to build up. Your to­tal Google stor­age al­lowance is shared across three things, as­sum­ing you are us­ing them: Google Drive, Gmail and Google+ Pho­tos. In Google Drive you can store files of up to 1TB (if you’ve added enough stor­age) and any­thing you cre­ate with Google Docs, Sheets or Slides doesn’t count to­wards your stor­age al­lowance. In Gmail, mes­sages and at­tach­ments do count to­wards your al­lowance, and in Pho­tos, only pic­tures larger than 2048x2048 pix­els count to­wards it.

At­trac­tive up­grades

You can eas­ily view both your cur­rent us­age and a break­down of which of the three sec­tions is us­ing how much space. There are stor­age up­grades avail­able of course, and th­ese are among the best value on the mar­ket if you need a re­ally se­ri­ous amount of on­line stor­age. Again, this is be­cause Google’s whole op­er­a­tion is based around run­ning a re­ally phe­nom­e­nal num­ber of servers. You can up­grade to 100GB of space for just $1.99 a month or 1TB for $9.99. Fur­ther up­grades to 10TB, 20TB or even 30TB of space are avail­able, with the largest op­tion cost­ing $299.99 a month. It’s hard to imag­ine an in­di­vid­ual need­ing that kind of space, but for a business that could be a pretty at­trac­tive deal.

The web in­ter­face for Google Drive is ar­guably the least el­e­gant way to use it, so you might want to try the app for your Mac, which cre­ates a lo­cal copy of your on­line folder for off­line ac­cess. Like Drop­box, it can sync stuff straight to the cloud from the lo­cal folder and pro­vides short­cuts to view al­lowances, ac­count in­for­ma­tion and sync­ing pref­er­ences. The iOS app is pleas­ant and makes man­ag­ing your files (and shar­ing links to them) sim­ple. In iOS 8 you can ex­pect to see the app up­dated to support ex­ten­sions, so it should be pos­si­ble to di­rectly up­load files from your de­vice to Google Drive with­out hav­ing to open the app it­self first.

On your desk­top

Google Drive in­te­gra­tion on the desk­top is rather more well es­tab­lished at the mo­ment, and Chrome in par­tic­u­lar lets you in­stall var­i­ous ex­ten­sions specif­i­cally for work­ing with doc­u­ments inside your Drive. There are also some web apps like Drive Notepad, WeVideo, PicMon­key and CloudHQ that let you work on doc­u­ments form the cloud, and of course Google’s own of­fice suite is avail­able to all users as well.

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