Cloud storage has really taken off over the past couple of years and services like Dropbox, Box.net, Sugarsync and others are transforming the way we save and work with files and documents. Google jumped into the cloud storage world a few months ago with its own unique offering, 'Google Drive' and it offers some unique benefits when compared with the competition that I'll go into in a moment. First up, here's a brief intro video to 'Google Drive' from the company.
FeaturesHow does 'Google Drive' work?
* With Google Drive, you can store all your files in one place, so you can access them from anywhere and share them with others
* Use the Google Drive Android app to access your photos, documents, videos and other files stored on your Google Drive
* Upload files to Google Drive directly from your Android device
* Share any file with your contacts
* Access files others have shared with you on Google Drive
* Make any file available offline so you can access them even when you don't have an Internet connection
* Create and edit Google documents with rich text formatting
* Edits to your Google documents appear to collaborators in seconds
* Make quick changes to spreadsheets
* View your PDFs, presentations and more
* Upload and convert files to the Google Docs format
* Take a photo of printed text and convert it to a Google document
* Optimized experience to take advantage of larger screens for tablet users
With 'Google Drive' you simply drag and drop a file you want to save or update into your 'Google Drive' folder. It's that simple. No matter where you work on a file or document...your home PC, work PC, phone or tablet once you drop it in your 'Google Drive' folder you can access the updated file from any other device. Everything is saved on Google's Secure servers and can be accessed from anywhere. Multiple collaborators can all work on the same document and use the same file. All of you can use 'Google Docs' to edit the updated file and you'll all be seeing each other's changes instantaneously. Every time a change is made 'Google Drive' saves a different revision and you can look back over the past 30 days to see old versions at anytime. You can search by file type, owners and more. Finally, many apps have built-in 'Google Drive' compatibility so you can save directly to your folder from the app. What are the advantages of 'Google Drive' vs. competing services?
One of the cool things about 'Google Drive' that outclasses most if not all of the competition is the ability to view over 30 different file types right in the Chrome browser. Most of the competition opens a separate 'gallery' which can be cumbersome. 'Google Drive' has a number of plug-ins that allow you to for instance view Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator files even if you don't own a copy of the original program. Pretty handy we say and it makes it easier for you to browse through the files inside your 'Google Drive' folder and to see 'previews' to know exactly what you have. Another cool feature of 'Google Drive' is the option to OCR scan images. You simply upload an image file and any text in the image will be turned into text that is scannable.
Probably the biggest 'feature' that 'Google Drive' has over competing services is the integration of the full 'Google Docs' online Office Suite so you can create documents, spreadsheets and presentations and then save and sync these documents both on your computer, tablet or phone in one service. Now to be fair, most of the most popular office creation apps like 'QuickOffice Pro' and 'Docs to G'o have several of the other leading cloud storage services integrated into them like Dropbox and Box.net etc. Still...having 'Google Drive' and 'Google Docs' integrated in this way virtually ensures glitch-free compatibility and the recent addition to save and edit your Google Docs offline makes this a really compelling combination.
Finally, it would be remiss not to mention that 'Google Drive' is integrated with all your other Google services. So no matter what you're in...from Google Plus to Gmail or elsewhere you can easily retrieve, save and sync within your Google world. This is bound to be even more valuable as Google adds additional features and more integration in the future. How much does it cost?
When you open a 'Google Drive' account you're given 5GB of storage for free. This can be upgraded if you run out of room to 25GB for $2.49/month or to 100GB for just $4.99. This is pretty reasonable compared to competitors. For instance Dropbox charges $9.99/month for 100GB. 'Google Drive's' prices are either comparable or beat most competitors out there and a good value when you consider the 'extras' such as built-in 'Google Docs' integration that the others lack. Of course you can get even more storage if you need it. Here's the price chart for storage on 'Google Drive':Conclusion
In a nutshell, if you haven't tried cloud storage or even if you're already a user of a popular competing service like 'Dropbox' I recommend opening at least a free 5GB 'Google Drive' account. On your Nexus 7 creating one is as simple as a few taps and since Google is actively improving and developing it on an ongoing basis, it's bound to be a real force in the cloud storage area from this point forward. While some of its' competitors might currently have a larger following and/or some specific features (like 'Box.net' for business use), it's only a matter of time before Google catches up in areas it might currently lag. Overall however, 'Google Drive' with its reasonable pricing, deep 'Google Chrome' integration and the other 'unique features' I outlined above give Nexus 7 owners and other users entrenched in the Google ecosystem of services some real tangible benefits over competing cloud storage options.
If you don't have it on your Nexus 7 Tablet already you can download the app for free at the link below at the Google Play Store.
You can find out even more about 'Google Drive' on the web.
Another bonus of 'Google Drive': Dozens of Chrome Apps that work with it right in your browser offering tons of added functionality.