Google Drive, something I have been waiting for since oooo I don’t know… 2009. Google Docs was supposed to be the solution but it never really cut it for me. It was great for archiving files, especially when they opened it up to upload any file you want, but it never filled that gap with syncing files between machines with ease. Most people filled this void with Drop Box, the service that gave you 2GB free with the ability to earn extra space via recommendations or buy more storage for a monthly fee.
So why do people love Drop Box? It’s simple really, sign up, install on PC 1, drop files into the Drop Box Folder, install on PC2, install Drop Box, sign in and voila, those files from PC1 automatically appear on PC2. For those multi PC users (which alot of us are these days), getting those important files to computers became a whole lot easier. The added bonus was that they were also available on the web and via an app available on most good smart phones. I can think of many times when an all important file was needed whilst out and about.
So what does Google Drive bring to the table? Essentially the same thing except it is integrated with your existing Google products and it comes with a whole host of other features. The syncing feature works the same as Drop Box but there are additional benefits. One of the main features Google are pushing above the obvious are the searching capabilities. Even uploading an image with writing on, Google is able to analyse that file, perform some OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and then allow those words to be searched within your Google Drive! That is quite simply amazing. We are not talking new technology here, just old tech applied in a new and beneficial manner. To take it one step further, images will also be scanned for recognisable objects, so searching you plethora of images for the one where you took a photo of your cat has become as simple as searching the word ‘cat’.
What else is there? Oh, the ability to view over 30 different file types in the browser. So that Photoshop or Illustrator file your graphic artist shared with you can be viewed irrespective of the fact you don’t have that program installed. Wait a minute, did I just gloss over the fact files can be shared? Yes… yes I did. You can share and have files shared with you quickly and simply. Kiss goodbye to having to email files one by one (upto 10Mb of course), just upload and then share with the person you want to see them!
The sharing option is something I wanted to focus on in particular. When it comes to large or numerous files, getting them from you to your desired recipient can be tricky. I experience this personally with web design. Customers need to send me files, photos, text etc and emailing these doesn’t really cut it. Drop Box enabled customers to create accounts, copy their files to a folder in their Drop Box and then share that folder with me. Those files would then download to my computer. It is genius really. Google Drive will offer that same functionality but with enhancements such as document versioning so that 30 days worth of changes are kept to allow customers to view documents back in time. Document collaboration just became a whole lot easier and safer.
Of course, alot of people out there are happy with their Drop Box or similar services and that is fine. For me personally, Google Drive becomes the all encompassing solution that takes things to the next level. And for those worried about Google datamining and profiling you and having all your files and knowing everything about you, well simply put, go home, ring up your ISP and cancel your broadband and then sell your computer (taking the hard drive out of course) in a classifieds paper with an anonymous name and Pay As You Go mobile phone number, meet up with the seller, in a car park somewhere, with a mask on your face and insist on cash. Every system that holds your data looks at your data. The company you work for datamines your emails and browsing habits, your electricity and gas company mine your usage to predict your usage and your free email account with whichever provider you use reads your emails. You will never get away from datamining because it is a lucrative and profitable business. The best you can do is minimise it. I do this by doing everything through Google. Food for thought and of course, just my opinion!