I swear there’s Google staffers who are so devoted to the projects they are working on that they don’t know what the rest of the company is developing.
If I was working on self driving car technology I think that the last thing I’d do is call my on-line storage solution ‘Google Drive’, but that’s exactly what they are doing and it’s coming out next week.
For old-school nerds, this might seem boring. GMailFS came out years ago an it allowed GMail users to add a ‘GMail’ drive as a file system in your PC. Anything you drag over to the GMail drive would be uploaded to your GMail account as hidden email messages with attachments. Browsing the GMail drive on any internet connected PC would show you all your files and you could copy/delete/upload from any location. It was actually pretty handy.
Sadly GMail’s technical staff saw the potential nightmare that would arise if something changed with these ‘special hidden messages’ and quickly moved to block the GMailFS tool from working before it became too popular.
Everyone using GMailFS knew it was a hack, against the EULA for GMail, and so the move to block it wasn’t a big stink, more of a ‘bummer’ moment like when they realize they forgot to increase the price of your favourite soda in the school’s vending machine and then fix it.
Also, while Gmail offers almost 8GB of storage, using it for files could cause mail interruptions if you were to max it out trying to copy some files between machines. Plus all your mail eats up your storage, and in my case, that means only 3486MB of storage not 5GB.
While prices aren’t available, we know all Google storage limits are expandable for paid accounts. It would only make sense, given the processing needs of email, that Google Drive will allow you to add more space to your drive for less money than you’d pay for the same storage in GMail.
Speculation is that Google Drive will have desktop integration on Windows, Android, and Mac meaning it should be as easy to use as a USB drive yet you only need to pack around your username and password.
Other operating systems will obviously have web access to the drive, that’s a “no brainer“, so even obscure versions of Linux and potentially even appliances like WebTVs will have limited access to your shared files.
Why not sign up a few friends using a DropBox referral ID and get 15GB of free space? Well if you want to use your friend’s info like that, you either hate your friends or they are really understanding. Plus DropBox doesn’t have the best track record of privacy and security; in fact it seems like the hackers lay off DropBox just long enough for it to become a ripe target and then they hack it again.
Even without the historical issues surrounding the competition, this is going to be just like G+ vs. Facebook, Skype vs. Google Voice:
- If you use GMail you already trust Google with your most private assets, using them for files is no extra risk.
- Google is a hardware and software solutions provider. Anything they deliver will be more advanced than the competition.
- Google has a much larger exposure base than the competition yet a much better track record on security and data integrity.
Personally, to me this is a no-brainer, and the only questions I have are how awesome the integration will be with other services?
- If I upload a music folder with a playlist so I can put my music onto my car-pc, can I open the playlist and stream my tunes from Google Music on my work PC?
- If someone emails me a file and I wanted to share it with my co-workers, will GMail let me save the file to a shared folder in Google Drive?
- If I put a huge RAW image from my DSLR camera on my Google Drive, can I open it in Picasa and share a thumbnail on G+ without making 5 copies of the same picture?
- If something crazy happens while I’m in a Google self-driving car, can I save the last 5 minutes of exterior video to my Google Drive and then later share the pertinent time-segment of that clip on YouTube without having to upload/download?