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Google Drive Launches - For Real!

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After weeks of speculation, Google Drive launched today. As if trying to quell the disbelievers, Google's announcement blog post read "...yes, really" in the title. The long-rumored "cloud" based storage officially launched this afternoon, touting the ability to keep all your stuff in one place.

What is Google Drive?

In essence, Google drive is the rebranding of Google Docs. It's being positioned to compete against similar storage services like Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft's SkyDrive. Because Google has always allowed you to share documents with others, Google Drive can also compete against services like Dropbox. If you're currently a Google account user, just go to drive.google.com/start to get started.

The files you use are stored in your account on Google's servers. Your files are available only to you and can only be accessed by others if you share with them. Since the files are stored on Google's servers, they are always available, provided you have an Internet connection.

Google is adding the ability to integrate Google Drive seamlessly with Macintosh and Windows-based PCs, effectively integrating it into the operating system. Google previously had an Android app for accessing Google Docs, which was recently updated to allow offline caching of your Docs.

Today, the Google Docs app has been updated once again sporting the new name and logo. The Play Store also indicates improved support for additional file types, sharing integration and background syncing. An iOS version has yet to be released, though Google says it's coming soon.

Google Drive – The Service

Google Drive is touting the ability to view over 30 different file types directly within your browser. This includes Adobe products like Illustrator and Photoshop, even if you do not have those applications natively installed on your computer. Google Drive will also track versions now. As you save a file, it creates a revision that you can go back to view for up to 30 days.

As part of the service, Google gives you 5 GB of storage for free. However, there are several levels of service to choose from, if you don't mind a monthly payment for more storage. You can upgrade your Drive space to 25 GB for $2.49/month. 100 GB will run you $4.99/month. Or get an entire terabyte (1 TB) for $49.99/month. The space you purchase counts against Google Drive and Picasa. Google Music, however, has not been listed. As an added bonus, when you pay for a Google Drive account, your Gmail storage will also increase from 10 GB to 25 GB.

Businesses using Google Apps aren't being left out either. Google is offering business pricing in nine different tiers ranging from 20 GB for $4/month (€3,00) to 16 TB for $1,430/month (€1068,00). Google Drive is available for the Free, Business and Education editions of Google Apps. Each require SSL connections and Single Sign-on. Various other features vary between versions.

Other Google Apps are being created and updated to integrate with Google Drive so that you can save your work directly to it. The Chrome Web Store has a concise listing of the apps that are designed to integrate with Google Drive.

On the surface, Google Drive doesn't look like much. However, its business applications are far-reaching. Companies like Carbonite and Mozy charge $5/month for backup services. Business-class online backup services are more expensive. For $60/year, you can have 100 GB of online backup, powered by Google's massive redundant data centers. The average small business owner would be nuts to not jump at this.

This will change things in Google's business model. Do you see yourself using Google Drive?


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