Google Drive has been out for a few weeks now and I’ve been using it since the day of release on multiple machines. To all intents and purposes, Google Drive is just like Dropbox but integrates with Google Docs, has less features but more space.
So, just like Dropbox you install it on each PC that you wish to access your drive content on. There are also smartphone apps available too. It creates a folder (and you can choose where to locate it) and anything you place in that folder is synced across all devices. It’s also available online via the new Google Drive website too. As it syncs a system tray icon animates – the animation is done via change of colour and its subtle I rarely notice it (not necessarily a good thing!).
Software is available for PC, Mac, ChromeOS and Android. An iPhone / iPad app is due.
Google Drive has replaced Google Docs and any files you had on that system has been transferred. Indeed, on your first sync you’ll find those documents appear in your PC folder (although you can switch this off). Click on this and it launches the usual Google viewer/editor.
By default you get 5GB of storage, a lot higher than Dropbox’s 2GB. However, by getting friends and family to join you can easily, freely, get the Dropbox figure up – mine is at 7GB at the moment (and can go up to 18GB).
$10 a month or $100 a year (give or take a cent) will get you 50GB (plus referrals) on Dropbox. $20/$200 will get you 100GB. In comparison, with Google Drive $2.49 a month will get you 25GB and $4.99 will get you 100GB.
This is a bit of a bargain – the cheapest deal by Google Drive works out at 5 cents per GB per month. The cheapest Dropbox account is 17 cents. One thing to know, though, is that with Google Drive the free account is separate from any Gmail or Picasa storage. You actually get 16GB of free storage in total across all 3 systems. The additional storage plans for Google Drive, though, includes Picasa so if you use this a lot for photo storage you might find any additionally purchased storage being used up by that.
None-the-less you can’t argue with the upgrade price. If you need a LOT of storage Google Drive is definitely the cheapest option but for free storage you have to consider the additional Dropbox storage that you can get with referrals.
Right, let’s get back to features. True to Google form they are rather lacking. Dropbox will give you file versioning (so you can retrieve an older version of a file), an easy way to share from the desktop, and URL sharing of files (great for sharing files from your website!). Google Drive has none of these. Sharing is done, as it was with Google Docs, by going to the website and setting it up. Dropbox allows you to set proxies and bandwidth limits. Again, Google Drive doesn’t1. Both allow you to selective share which folders will be sync’d.
Summary of Google DriveAs usual with Google it’s a “no frills approach” with a distinct lack of features. Dropbox has definitely got the best feature list and, if you don’t need much storage or can get a number of referrals it’s definitely the best option. However, if you need more space or you simply don’t need the better sharing options and the 5GB free account is enough then Google Drive is worth a go. Personally, I’m using both!
Reviewed by David Artiss on 23rd May 2012.
- and odd that a product which is surely aimed at the commercial market as well as the home doesn’t have proxy options – this may mean it won’t work in many businesses [↩]