It’s not often that I mention specific products on the blog, since you’re all capable of weighing the pros and cons of the various providers. Once in a while though, something special comes along that I just have to mention.
For some of you, cloud storage will seem like old news, and for others, you’ll have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. Let’s catch everyone up with some basics.
Files, like documents and photos, are stored on your computer on your local hard drive. The drive might have a capacity, say 250 GB, and every file slowly fills up that capacity. If you want to take your files to-go, you email them to yourself, put them on a jump drive, or take your entire computer (easy if it’s a laptop). If you leave your computer at home and need something, you’re typically out of luck unless you have something like a Go-to-my-PC product installed.
Enter cloud storage. Your files are still on your local drive, but now all of those files are also duplicated on another company’s server, i.e. “the cloud,” and transmitted there via your Internet connection. That means:
- The files can also be on any number of other computers, all staying perfectly in sync as long as they’re connected to the Internet. It’s like having a virtual “server.”
- You can access files through an Internet portal, even if you’re not at a computer you own.
- You can usually share files with other people through a link.
- Files are inherently “backed up,” since they’re on duplicate servers and computers, and many times you can go back in time through previous revisions of the same file or folder.
That’s the short intro to cloud storage. I’ve been a big fan and a user for about 3 years, starting out with Dropbox’s free service and moving to their paid 100 GB plan.
Most recently, Google entered the industry with their re-branded Google Docs product called Google Drive. It’s a very similar service, but has everything you’d expect from Google including a good price.
Drive will save me over $200 a year over Dropbox. If you factor in the cost of not having to pay for a backup service, external hard drive, jump drives, etc. as a result of using a cloud service, the cost savings is closer to $400 a year.
A $400 savings, but I’m still spending money, you might say. I suppose you can live without a hard drive or any files, but that’s not the reality of most people today, people with computers and lots of very large photo and video files to save.
I thought it would be beneficial to do a quick comparison of Dropbox and Drive. If you already use Dropbox, you can use this guide to make a decision of keeping the service or switching over. If you use neither system, some of this will hopefully convince you of the benefits of moving into the cloud.
Google Drive vs. Dropbox
Here’s a brief overview of the features and pricing of Drive and Dropbox:
- 5 GB of free space; $4.99 for 100 GB; $19.99 for 400 GB, other sizes available
- Syncs to online cloud storage, syncs between computers
- Can share links to files and folders with others, including advanced sharing and collaboration settings
- Access through local computers or via online interface
- Easily organized by latest revision, recent files, starred files; fully searchable like Gmail
- Revision history for files and folders (included)
- Office-type files can be converted to Google Docs format and edited online
- 2 GB of free space; $9.99 for 50 GB, $19.99 for 100 GB, other sizes available but need custom quotes
- Revision history available for an extra monthly fee
- Tough to see recently used files or folders
- Limited collaboration settings, but fully sharable
- All other features same or similar to Dropbox
Overall, it’s pretty clear to me that Google Drive offers more features at a substantially lower cost per storage size. That’s why I’ve made it my choice as far as cloud storage.
If you’re looking to make life easier for yourself, synchronize your files between computers, make your files available online and back them up at the same time, I encourage you to give Google Drive a test-run.