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Google Drive (drive.google.com)
275 points by Braasch on Apr 24, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 132 comments

With Google's legendary customer service, it's only a matter of time until someone gets their account locked, loses all their files and can't get them from Google because there's no way to speak an actual person.

Isn't the whole point of this to synch your files to your local computer?

The point is to sync so if your local computer fails you can retrieve them. A situation could occur where your hard drive fails AND you're locked out of your Google Drive account.

Commandment: Make backups.

If you violate this commandment, you will eventually lose your data.

Commandment: Test your backups.

If you violate this commandment, you will discover that you weren't ACTUALLY making backups.

I think his point was that this could be a way to backup certain critical data without having to think about it… but that their history of hands-off customer service & support may prevent that type of use.

User Commandment : Trust remote storage as a reliable source of back up in case of data loss.

If you violate this commandment, you will eventually lose users trust.

User Commandment : Once I sync the data, it must be available to me without any hassles on demand.

The usual technical lectures to users asking them to do things instead of making 'just work' don't fly.

That is why they ship TV's(with channels), Washing machines(with timers) and microwave ovens(with presets) without you having to bother too much about frequencies, volume/rotations and wave equations.

The user wants a product that 'works' the way he wants.

Yes, those are nice commandments. But most Google users aren't nearly tech savvy to follow them.

The existence of this new product does not make users more or less tech savvy.

If a user goes from 1 copy (hard drive), to 2 copies, then it's a net gain for their backups.

If a user goes from 2 copies (hard drive, some backup system), to 2 copies (hard drive, Google drive), then yes, arguably, it's a net loss for their backups, because they can simultaneously have a HD failure and get locked out of their Google account.

But arguably, they could live in Joplin, MO and both of their current backups could be toast.

Best to have three - hard drive, backup drive in a safety deposit box, and Google Drive if you like the convenience and access and cost, and don't mind the privacy implications.

I don't mind the privacy implications. Google doing something evil with user's data would be absolute suicide for them.

The lock out thing is exaggerated. Having a Google backup is much safer than local manual backup for almost everyone.

I agree completely.

If you also use two-factor authentication, I daresay that you are in the 99th percentile, or higher.

I don't like being pedantic, but a sync'ed copy isn't a backup. It might protect against hardware failure, but it won't help against accidental deletion or corruption.

I'm not sure if GDrive has file versioning/restoration built into it or not, but there is an important distinction to be made here.

https://support.google.com/drive/bin/answer.py?hl=en&ans... notes that old versions are saved for 30 days or 100 revisions, which does provide some protection.

How many ordinary users even understand the term 'backup' is itself a big question!

The use case is simple - When I put data on something, It must be available to me.

I can't learn how to be a sysadmin or expect my father to do that just to use this service.

Yes, but that's a two point failure. You don't engineer for two point failures until you're absolutely sure that you've covered all the single point failure cases, which basically means never.

You don't get a copy of the files on your computer which are in google docs format.

Has anyone actually gotta their gmail account locked for a non-malicious reason? I can understand your AdSense account or G+ account locked because those have some various more strict rules, but I've never heard of anyone getting their gmail/calendar/docs account locked.

Their automated recovery systems are good enough such that you don't need an actual person. It nags you all the time to enter a phone number and recovery email, and reminds you of the recovery email from time to time.

Yes, I got my Youtube account locked, so that locked my Google account and I couldn't access my mails.

there are cases of people losing access to gmail because they didn't add their real name into Google+ which is a pretty trivial action.

the problem is that essential work products like gmail and drive are bundled with social elements like g+ or youtube which I'm starting to dislike more and more.

Is it just me or is this landing page pretty terribly designed (other than the video)?

If I didn't already know what the product is, I would have no idea what I'm looking at. Is it a cyberlocker? Is it a Dropbox clone? Is it a social file editor?

Heck, the landing page could almost just be describing the previous Google Docs functionality.

The most innovative features, OCR and image recognition, are buried away with almost no description of just how useful they might be (privacy issues aside). The file revisions feature is sorely lacking in detail.

Also, the amount of white space feels excessive. Was a second page for features even necessary or couldn't that have just all been on the main page?

I'm sure the product is great and all, but this page is completely useless to send to less technical friends or family members.

Edit: If you want to compare it to Google's other downloadable software landing pages:







The landing page seems perfectly fine to me, and adequately describes the functionality of the service.

I'm curious to know how many people like this trend of having to watch a video when you get to a landing page. Its showing up in more and more places, and I personally dislike it (I don't want to load a video and watch a clip, if I can quickly scan text and images and figure out if I should continue), but I wanted to know what other people thought.

I rarely watch the videos. Life is too short. If I can learn about the service/product by reading, that's fine, if not — I'll just abandon the page. If the service/product is any good, it will come back to me sooner or later via friends' recommendations.

Same here, rarely watch videos, but not because life is too short, because video are very intrusive. I need to put headphones, it may download slowly, I have to focus on somebody talking to me, often with a very weird accent, in a language that is not my mother tongue. Moreover I am in China and may have to fire my VPN, switch on the proxy, all this because some guys decided videos were more than text.

It's a 1 minute video so it probably took you longer to post this comment than to watch the thing.

I like both, personally.

Ideally, I want to see a few images to get an idea of what the product is. If I'm interested, I'll watch the video to actually see how it works.

There are things you notice in a video you'd never grasp just from a few pictures, just like how a few pictures can sometimes explain things much better than a lot of words.

I am fully with you. As a general rule, I process text much faster (and more selectively) than I can process a video.

The only time I prefer video is when it is something that truly benefits from being demonstrated in a way that is cumbersome to describe in words. Working with software is almost always best described in words with some pictures, but I found videos extremely helpful in origami.

Text is high bandwidth, but videos are much better for communicating emotion.

I normally go to wikipedia for a description of a service or product rather than sift through all the marketing BS that's normally plastered over a website.

The best thing about this is that it will finally force Dropbox to offer more storage at a cheaper price point. $200 bucks for 100GB of personal storage per year? I've long thought it's ridiculously high for mass adoption and so many more would be using it if the price was a bit more reasonable.

For me:

1. I need much more space than 100GB - I'd ideally like a TB+ on the cloud.

2. The price has to be more acceptable. Say the cost of a TB hard drive on an annual basis. I'm not even going to talk about the likely $1000+ bill for a TB of space at the current price point.

3. I have to admit that Dropbox is pretty cool when it comes to a smooth, painless experience.

Agreed about high dropbox pricing. But it isn't too bad imho.

There are three inter-related concepts: backup (mirror of your hdd), archiving (extension of your hdd), sync (subset of files on multiple devices) and sharing.

But if you're ok with using different services for different purposes, you can easily get what you want.

To archive non-media files, 5 GB should be sufficient. To archive media files, pay $60/yr to Vimeo for video and $25/yr to Flickr for unlimited storage.

For backup, pay $50/yr to Backblaze.

If you try to use a service optimized for sharing and sync (Dropbox) for archival and backup, you're going to experience friction.

Just my two cents.

> To archive non-media files, 5 GB should be sufficient. To archive media files, pay $60/yr to Vimeo for video and $25/yr to Flickr for unlimited storage.

Note that Flickr will only archive certain types of media—you can't store your RAW files or other related stuff (presets, actions) with them. I believe Smugmug and a few of the other services do this, though.

I get the feeling that this is also going to force Amazon to lower their S3 prices. To store 100GB on S3's standard storage costs around $12/month right now [http://aws.amazon.com/s3/pricing/]. Even if Dropbox were getting the best price on that page, it would still cost them $3.7/month to store 100GB.

AWS prices are negotiable. They're certainly getting a better price than what's on that page.

It would be interesting if you could map an S3 drive locally - then do a custom install of dropbox and point it at the S3 mapping on whatever machine you have then you'd be using dropbox to sync to S3

A key differentiator here vs. Dropbox that I think people are overlooking is the fact that you can actually edit your files and collaborate easily. The transition to cloud-based apps is underway, and Dropbox -- in this respect -- is about to be stuck in the past.

I disagree and I have no affiliation with Dropbox or have any vested interest in their success.

I just tend to think that the optimal cloud solution is as close to invisible as possible while letting people use whichever software tools they need. I don't really see any single entity owning the software and the storage because no single entity can own the collaboration tools. I view collaboration and syncing as two distinct business lines without a whole lot of interdependence. Personally I use Google docs once in a blue moon, and even when I do, I don't see how Google Drive makes that process any easier.

It may be that I just don't understand the product, but I don't think this will be any more successful than its competitors except for the fact that, when compared to Dropbox, it is substantially cheaper. But then again, Dropbox may be able to parter with Amazon to keep Google out of the space as much as possible and keep costs down.

I think you just nailed something exactly on the head that I've had a hard time describing to people.

For me, the fundamental problem with a service like Google Docs is that it is the ONLY way I can edit a document.

Whereas on my computer, I can open a .doc file (synced with Dropbox) in Word, TextEdit, OpenOffice, NeoOffice, or just about any other document editor. Doubly so for more platform-agnostic files (e.g. txt, jpg, pdf, etc).

(This is also why, unlike Steve Jobs, I hope files and the file system never die.)

You can download, edit and upload Google docs in a range of formats, including Word, ODT, RTF, etc.

The biggest problem with the file-based route is when you have multiple people working on one file. You can't work on it at the same time (or you have a merge problem.) You have to sidechannel quite a bit about which version is the current "master". All kinds of issues that are solved by using a non-file-centric document.

Right, but if you are always using the default app for each (which I would have to believe the vast majority of people are), there isn't much added value to being able to edit files in Google Docs. As long as the file itself is being maintained in a central location, I don't believe that there is a whole lot of value in Google productivity software.

Syncing solutions should not dictate which software you use. One environment should be completely agnostic of others and only be tied together by file formats. So my original point was that I don't see the value add in Google Drive overtaking Dropbox just because it has accompanying productivity software. I think the software has to stand on its own, which I do not believe it can do.

I agree, but I don't think folks are saying it's going to overtake Dropbox _because_ of the accompanying productivity software so much as the integration of that and the syncing of normal files.

Easier to explain via my own example: I have Dropbox, and I'm also a fairly heavy docs user. Now that's there's Drive, it's a no-brainer to just take all my files out of Dropbox and drop them into Drive so when I'm looking for something like a letter from last year, I only have to search one web site / app and it's got everything from docs to PDF scans. There's no comparable way of going the other direction (moving all my files to Dropbox) without losing a ton of functionality. Word is good, but it's really primitive compared to Doc at this point when it comes to collaborative work and access on my phone, tablet, etc.

It's also worth noting that in the case of Google Docs, Drive isn't really a syncing solution (unless you're using Docs in offline mode) since there's no files to sync. It's just a way to access your docs.

I hate the fact that you can open .doc files with many editors. When sending them around, there's always someone who opens and edits an OpenOffice file in Word or vice-versa which ends up messing up the file in some subtle and unfixable way. Having a single (extensible) editor is definitely the way to go.

you can download the files and use whatever you want. Its just lower barrier, in terms of collaboration and sharing, getting people productive, etc. I know for example some docs created in Windows office suite vs Mac office suite, don't work well when editing on different platforms along with open office on linux. Even differentiators of file types like docx vs doc have issues.

The Google Docs integration is disappointing. Just JSON files that open up Google Docs in your browser, nothing useful to point Time Machine or some sort of backup script at.

When I saw my Docs start syncing in, I thought it meant I would be able to work on them offline. I was also disappointed, but I'm sure this functionality will roll out down the road.

You can enable offline access in Google Docs. Backup's the issue for me, though.

How do you enable offline use? I have been looking for this for a while. I am using google apps if that matters.

I was disappointed too. It's a glorified bookmark manager. I'd have thought it would at least give me csv and rtf locally or an XML format.

However it is now easier to move your files in appropriate collections and remove the unwanted files compared to the webinterface.

There is an option to enable accessing your files offline.

Google & Apple make outstanding marketing videos. They are routinely some of the best I see in any industry, and the clear leaders in the tech industry.

The only "startup" I have seen that rivals their quality of marketing videos is Square. Does anyone know how much producing video like this costs?

I actually contacted the guy who made Square's videos and it's in the tens of thousands of dollars. My memory is hazy but it wouldn't surprise me if it's around $50k+. The videos more than pay for themselves, however.

The pure production costs (Animator + Voice Over) aren't going to be high. Anywhere from $1k to $5k depending on how much you outsource and how far away you outsource it.

The ability of a marketing department/agency to distill the product, it's benefits, how it relates to the brand and why you need it is something you can't really quantify. If you watch Mad Men think of the effort that goes into a pitch meeting. That is what you pay for. And that can cost a lot.

The Square video (and many of the ones in the same style) are by this guy: http://www.businessinsider.com/adam-lisagor-lonelysandwich-2...

I agree Google has been making some amazing video ads in the past year or so.

The Google Drive video is too professional and kind of boring.

The biggest things here are the OCR, image recognition and (hence deeper) search feature for your files. It would be really tough for Dropbox or any other competitor to match these. The Google drive also seems to be available on all platforms so looks like a very good option.

"The Google drive also seems to be available on all platforms"

Not yet. There is no broad based Linux support yet (it supports Android, which is technically Linux, but no Linux Desktop distro is supported) and iOS support is still in the works.

Evernote already does a great job with ocr for searching images (along with your notes).

So now they have your social network, your search history, your email ... and now your files? I can't see how that could possibly go wrong.

To be fair, file-uploading has been part of Google Docs for a while now (I've been using it to upload encrypted backups). The only difference now is that there's a desktop client and an SDK.

Also notably, your wallet.

Don't forget your phone, and eventually, your car!!! I give them points for being ambitious.

Anyone see any word on a Linux client? "PC and Mac" is all I can find, but "PC" usually translates to "Windows"...

Has anybody tried syncing extisting folders via symlinks? Using Dropbox this is how I prefer to keep track of folders outside of the actually Dropbox folder. Google Drive just seems to ignore them.

Not being able to include other folders would pretty much be a deal-breaker for me :( Any ideas?

If true, that would be a huge omission.

I've symlinked my ~/Documents folder into my Dropbox folder and now I rarely manually put anything into ~/Dropbox.

I wonder if it's because they know people use Dropbox this way, but they want you to put your documents into Google Docs directly?

I have the same problem. I've pinged my friends at Google to see if a feature request can be put in.

It's really annoying that this use case wasn't thought about.

Symlinks are ignored. On Mac, aliases are synced as files, but the files themselves aren't followed. Huge disappointment and deal-breaker for me as well.

    You need to upgrade your Adobe Flash Player to watch this video.
    Download it from Adobe.
It makes me wonder how serious is Google about WebM.


The YouTube HTML5 player is still in trial mode, just not stable enough to use on the homepage of a major product launch.

All in good time, there are definitely people at Google working on it :-)

If you are one of them, let Page and his team(that would include you) know that they are doing a good job with the new direction the company is going towards.

Talk about cheap storage. :)

20 GB ($5.00 USD per year) 80 GB ($20.00 USD per year) 200 GB ($50.00 USD per year) 400 GB ($100.00 USD per year) 1 TB ($256.00 USD per year)

Where are you seeing this? I see 25GB for $2.49 USD per month, 100GB for $4.99 USD per month, 1TB for $49.99 USD per month (and a few others) here: https://www.google.com/settings/storage/?hl=en

I just bought 80GB a few minutes before the new pricing page went up. When I go back to my Accounts page and click on Storage-More Details I see the new pricing like you, but under my 80GB at $20/year I see the following: "* Your current plan is no longer offered.Learn more"

There is nothing yet under the Learn More link, but it says that my next charge will occur next year. I hope that means old storage buyers are being grandfathered in.

Thinking about it some more, I should've gotten 200GB for $50.

They are. I've had the 80GB storage for a few months and I got to keep it.

Seems to have been a mistake, they already fixed the pricing.

Old: http://i.imgur.com/wq9hz.png

It must be crazy in the plex today. My Gmail is down, can't download canary, and this site is crazy slow to load.

I like it. Well, I can't use it currently (my drive "isn't ready yet") but I've wanted a more feature-ful Dropbox[1]. With Google killing off tons of projects I love (latest being Picasa for linux, sad face) it's nice to see they're adding cool things in the meantime.

[1] That is, Dropbox's philosophy is to create something dead simple that an idiot can use, whereas I suspect Google's product will be laden with options and knobs. I don't knock on Dropbox - I'm constantly recommending it to people that aren't tech-savvy (and it's one of the few things they understand and start using quickly), but I personally like those knobs and levers. Am I the only one here that doesn't think they're direct competition with each other? They're in the same space and all but I think they're meant for different niches.

picasa for linux was just a bundle of wine and picasa for windows, you can easily replicate this setup yourself.

The icon looks a bit like a recycling symbol. This is not a good metaphor for cloud storage.

And no linux client.

No linux client turned me off of full adoption (especially when dropbox does support linux)

While Dropbox does support Linux, I could only get the client to work on the Ubuntu distro. Not saying that Google Drive is better (they don't even have a client), but that Dropbox Linux support is not so good.

I'm running it just peachy right now on Fedora 16 x86_64. Add a repo, install the package, and it bootstraps itself. It's quite clean.

`yaourt -S dropbox` on Arch Linux works fine :) Been using their linux client since 2008 or so, and I can't recall having any problems.

I haven't tried this, and it's a bit old, but: http://v3gard.com/2009/04/using-dropbox-on-slackware/

Seems like the general idea could be used on other distros.

I got it to work pretty easily on Centos.

Working great on Arch!

It shouldn't be complicated to write a FUSE client, should it?

Apparently Google Drive isn't everywhere I want to be; it's not "ready for my account" yet. Is it really that hard for Google to make this available for everyone who wants it right away? How many people are trying to do this on opening day?

"Your Google Drive is not ready yet" :(

I'm also seeing this. Is it not available internationally yet or are they just rolling it out slowly?

I'm in Houston, TX. My guess is a slow roll out, probably over a day or so.

Frustrating, isn't it? I'd have loved to give it a shot, to see how it compares to Dropbox.

No Linux support? sad face.

Probably supports Linux server side :P

Anybody an idea whether it can hurt to put my Dropbox folder in the GDrive folder? That way I'd have a double backup for files in my Dropbox folder.

I wonder what this will mean for dropbox. I certainly like the micro-like pricing starting at 2.50 a month.

As a statisfied dropbox user, with only ~200mb used, I don't need to pay for the service. Yet I recently wanted to show my support by taking their lowest possible plan. (I thought this would put me back 15-30 dollars a year).

Yet the lowest thing they offer is 9.99 a month. I found that suprising

2MB file size limit???

Looks like the file cap is actually 4MiB, based on my testing. Still way too small.

I ran into similar problems. a 32MB file would stop the syncing service completely and not resume.

Really? I didn't see that.

Nevermind. Looks like I'm sticking with dropbox.

How can that be? They were just priding themselves on "even the big ones"

When running the Google Drive OSX application the CPU goes into overdrive while syncing my local files to the Google servers and pushes the CPU temperature to around 100° Celsius. Is anyone else experiencing the same issues?

I tried it quickly. And couple things I have grip with. 1. I Synced my folders and a couple files showed up. I deleted the files I didn't want in my google drive on the computer, and they were removed from google drive.

2. I disconnected, And when I tried to sync back up it wanted my Google drive folder to be empty. It wanted to re-sync everything from the online Drive account. It wouldn't pick up where it left off.

I stopped using it right away.

That was my experience. I'm sure they will fix it. Unless I'm using it wrong.

I wish I could select on android which folder I wanted Synced. Right now I had to manually share the photo folder from my gallery. (I dont want to use google+ photos)

I am going to try and build this with Drive API


It seems along with this announcement google have revised their storage pricing. On the old scheme I could get 20GB for $5/year, now 25GB is ~$30/year (600% increase) -


It's funny that in the old Google Docs I was able to upload documents with no issues in any browser/OS, but it seems that in Drive I cannot do it using Opera on Linux (but I can using Chrome). Also, the way in which shared documents have been handled in the transition is just plain stupid.

I never find it strange when Opera doesn't work. It's not Opera's fault, web developers generally don't care about it.

The next big stage of cloud storage is integration. Integration into 3rd party apps. Integration deep into devices (iCloud for iOS and Google Drive for Android). This was a "must" for Google for Android to remain relevant.

The more I use it, the more I see it as a Dropbox clone. Not just the exact same feature-wise, but also technology-wise..

Google Drive's Mac client is written in Python, just like Dropbox's, for example.

It's strange that the top comments here are blasting Google for things we couldn't care less about.

I think it's awesome. Especially the search integration and ability to build apps. Dropbox is dead.

How is Google Drive different from the way Google Docs is meant to be used? Seems like Google Drive is Google Docs with a new name and an intro video.

I still want to be able to sync any folder - not just a gDrive or a dropbox folder.

It seems to be disabled for google apps?

I think something needs to be updated in Apps admin panel - once I logged into the admin panel it was available.

microsoft, canonical, apple and now google; won't any one of the bigger tech players buy dropbox instead of developing something new?

I hope not. Like Twitter and others before it, I think Dropbox is more likely to succeed and engender trust from users as an independent company.

Dropbox has said that unlike iCloud or SkyDrive, they're the only ones offering a truly cross-platform offering, that doesn't favor any one OS or platform over any other. Selling out to one of the big companies (except maybe Amazon/Facebook) would sacrifice that.

Not to mention, Drew Houston already turned down a 9-figure offer from Steve Jobs so I doubt he's interested in selling.

The asking price is probably too insane. If Instagram is a $1B company, than what is Dropbox?

Dropbox raised $250m at a (rumored) $4b valuation not long ago.

I hope not. I don't trust Microsoft, Canonical, Apple, or Google to provide cloud storage.

DropBox works great for me on OSX, Windows, and a couple of Linux variants. I just can't see Microsoft, Canonical or Apple going out of their way to make things work well across platforms.

And Google Drive probably ties into Google+, which kills it for me.

Curious: why would you trust Dropbox or another small provider any more/less than Microsoft, Apple or Google?

If say, Microsoft bought Dropbox, would you then no longer trust them?

Interested in the reasoning here.

First, since cloud storage is the only reason Dropbox exists as a company I think they'll try harder to do it right. If Google Drive doesn't live up to Google's expectations they'll shut it down like they've shut down all of their other unsuccessful projects.

Second, possibly related to the first point, it seems the other companies are doing cloud storage to sell their other products. SkyDrive ties in with Office Live, Google Drive with Google+, etc.

Given that Google's charging for Drive and not G+, it kind of seems like the other way around.

There's always a risk a company will either shut down a business (Symbian, Wave, MySpace, Delicious), or go out of business (Chumby), or get bought and have their business shutdown (Sidekick, Drop.io). I don't think you can really know the future enough to make product choices based on the chance that will happen.

The fact that they charge for Drive and not G+ doesn't imply that Drive is more important than G+. Looking at everything they have the last couple of months I would argue it is in fact the other way around. Although longer term and not direct revenue, G+ (and it's ad possibilities) is more valuable to them.

The way I see it Dropbox made a BIG mistake not selling to Apple. They have now been marginalized by Google Drive. Dropbox is expensive and doesn't offer any of the great features of Google Drive....there done.

But why? I'm not loyal to Dropbox. Competition is good for the rest of us. I get 25GB free from SkyDrive. I hope the others follow suit.

Confusing. It says upgrade to 25GB for less than $2.50/month then it says 20GB for $5.00/year. You would think with Google's budget they would have some person read the front page and the pricing page.

at first i was like, only 5gb free, what happened to massive leapfrogs goog. then i was like 100gb for 4.99/month F yeah america.

Why is Google immune to Anti-competition laws?

Anti-competition laws (in the US at least) only take effect where a company 1. has a monopoly or near-monopoly in a market and then 2. abuses that position to keep out or disadvantage competitors.

The laws don't apply to Google here because there's significant competition (SkyDrive, iCloud, Dropbox and others) so no monopoly. And Google is also fine in markets like search where they are the dominant player unless they start doing dumb things like penalising companies for advertising on other search engines.

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