Is Google Drive That Different?

It’s the product that’s been rumored for years and has finally been released. Google Drive is here, and with it, Google’s entry into the cloud storage market.


It’s cloud storage. You upload stuff to the cloud. You then access that stuff from anywhere. Yeah.

If that doesn’t sound too mind blowing, it’s probably because you’ve seen it all before. Cloud storage has been around for a while, usually with a very simple premise: store your files on the cloud. Google’s take on this simple premise works just as well. Building simple and intuitive products is really something that Google excels at anyway.

Here are some highlighted Google Drive features

  • 5GB of storage for free, with paid storage starting at $2.49 for 25GB
  • An optional desktop application, giving you drag and drop access to your drive through a virtual Google Drive folder on your computer
  • Advanced file search, with image recognition and the ability to search text within scanned documents
  • Automatic folder syncing with Google Drive on the Web and mobile
  • Sharing and collaborating on files with other users
  • Open up 30+ types of files in the browser, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, mp3s, and more

Google Docs 2.0

When you begin using Google Drive, you’ll notice that your Google Docs have been migrated to the new system. In fact, once you “upgrade”, going to will permanently redirect you to your new Google Drive.

You still get to keep all the features that Google Docs offered, such as creating and sharing documents, presentations, spreadsheets, etc. That’s because Google Drive is really more like an upgrade of Google Docs. Docs was pretty much a cloud storage solution in the first place, but more specifically for document files. The Drive upgrade lets it store pretty much everything else as well. All your photos, music, and documents all in one place, otherwise known as the tag line of cloud storage.


Should You Drop Dropbox?

Google Drive is being toted as the Dropbox killer by some (and not a Dropbox killer by others, claiming it goes after enterprise customers rather than the consumer market like Dropbox does). Dropbox is definitely the heavyweight in the market, with 45 million users. But is Google really offering something so vastly different?

Since they both do cloud storage, the most easily recognizable differences are the price points, and the Google integration.

Google Drive provides users with more free storage off the bat. 5GB simply beats 2GB. Dropbox does offer a referral program that adds 500MB free storage to your account (up to 18GB) for each referral, while Google gives you 5GB, with no referrals necessary. And for $2.49 a month, Google Drive bumps you up to 25GB. Here’s an article on how the paid accounts stack up. At sign up, 2GB is still less than 5GB in absolute terms.

Dropbox is available on more platforms right now, with iOS, Linux, and Blackberry support. Google Drive is quickly catching up though and this will soon be a moot point.

Google Drive does get to integrate with other Google services and technologies. It integrates with Google Images so that when you type “Brooklyn Bridge” for example, it will be able to find the photo you took of the bridge, no image title required, using its advanced search algorithms. It has search filters. It can recognize the text from a scanned document using OCR. And of course, it integrates with Google Docs to edit documents. I mean, it was Google Docs until recently.

So What to Use?

The whole Google Drive vs Dropbox debate reminds me a lot of the Google + vs Facebook debate. You have two services with very similar functionality, and all of your friends are already using the previous service. I think I have a similar solution: Be curious and go play with the new service. If you wind up liking it, then congratulations, you’re an active user. If you don’t like the newer service, then you still have the older service you know and love.

Will Google Drive kill Dropbox though? Who knows. Dropbox has been an innovative start up that’s survived imitators in the past. On the other hand,  5GB is enough for most people and Google users seeking to keep all their data in one place might just want to stick with Google. It already has all their other data anyway, so why not.

Did you try Google Drive and love it? Do you already have more than 5GB storage on Dropbox through its referral program and not switching, or are you even using SkyDrive, or iCloud for your cloud storage? Let us know in the comments!


Ben Romy

Ben is a 2012 graduate of the iSchool, now working for MLB Advanced Media.

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