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Google Drive for Work: Comparisons, Pros and Cons

This week at I/O 14 Google announced the immediate launch of Drive for Work, a premium version of Google Drive intended for business customers.

Drive for Work will continue what 190 million Google Drive users have come to expect, and more.  In addition to the customary storage, sync and share features offered to personal users for free, Drive for Work will allow business customers to access the entire suite of Google Apps for Business, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Hangouts, Forms and Google+.

I/O 14 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco
The Google developers conference, I/O 14, was held this week in San Francisco. Image via marketingland.com

But that’s not the big news here. What’s most enticing in Google’s latest offering is unlimited storage and the possibility of uploading a single file up to five terabytes  (equivalent to about 2.5 academic research libraries worth of data) for $10/user/month.  The catch is that a business must have 5 users ($50/month) or storage is limited to one terabyte per individual.

How Does This Offer Compare to Other Cloud Storage Services?

A variety of other services offer cloud storage for businesses.  Here’s how the biggest players stack up:

Dropbox for Business: $15/user/month (minimum of five users) for unlimited storage.

Box:  $15/user/month for business accounts, $35/user/month for enterprise accounts, both with unlimited storage.  File size is limited to 5G.

Microsoft OneDrive for Business$2.50/user/month for 25GB with annual commitment (1TB coming soon).  Microsoft OneDrive for Business is included in the suite of services of Microsoft’s Office 365 ($12.50/user/month for small business; $15/user/month for midsize business).

Hightail: $15.99/month for an individual user or first user on a team; users 2-10 pay $24.99 month.  Both price points have unlimited storage, and can share files up to 10GB.

Benefits of Google Drive for Work

Based on the above comparison, there are definitely upsides to Drive for Work in price and storage capacity, as well as some features the competitors are lacking.

  • Even if you’re a solopreneur, Google is still offering you 1 TB of storage for $10/month.  For the majority of small businesses, this is more than enough data storage; and it gives you room for growth to the next pricing level.
  • Google Drive for Work customers receive a full license for Gmail and the suite of Google Apps for Business.
  • Drive is close to platform agnostic.  Users can currently open and edit documents in their native format on Android and Chrome, and soon will be able to do so in iOS.
  • Enhanced encryption–to include not only security when uploading from your device to Google, and in transit between Google data centers–but also when your data is at rest on Google servers.
  • Advanced admin controls that will allow developers to create their own dashboards and employers to see which employees are looking at, deleting and sharing which files, and with whom.
  • Google Apps Vault.  This product allows storage of emails and all content stored in Drive, for purposes of audit and compliance.

    Good Google, Bad Google
    Do you trust Google with your your business data? Image via cenkbaban.com

Potential Downsides

When something seems too good to be true, it usually is.  In this case, there are several key points to consider.

Google is in business to make money.  The way they do that is by offering you more and more ways to work and play without ever leaving the Google ecosystem.  According to Jeffrey Mann, VP for Research at Gartner, in the New York Times, “It’s how they hold a customer. If they store your stuff, they get to know you better.”  So the question is, how well do you want Google to know your business?

Google Drive for Work is already being hailed as the ‘Dropbox Killer.’  But according to technologist and avid Dropbox user Shay Colson, there are plenty of reasons not to switch to the new Drive.  “Many companies still aren’t comfortable using cloud storage for everything. Drive still doesn’t play nice with all file types (unlike Box and Dropbox), and Google has lost a bit of trust from many users due to their involvement with the NSA.”

Colson adds that, “The new Drive is a compelling product for many customers–particularly those that are strapped for cash, are already using other Google Apps, or have employees across locations and devices.  It should also make other cloud storage providers up their game, which is a win for everyone.”

So you decide.  Will Google get your business data?

Will your business be using Drive for Work? Will you be switching to Drive from another cloud storage service? What feature or service is most attractive to you? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments. 

Kelly Lux

Kelly is the former Executive Editor of Information Space. Kelly currently teaches courses on Social Media, Online Community Management, and Content Strategy and Application, and she is currently the Assistant Director of the Communications@Syracuse program.

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