Yesterday, Google finally announced its very long rumored Google Drive, basically a big pile of cloud storage. If you have a Gmail account, you can get 5GB of storage for free, which you can sync across devices, computers and the web.

Pretty much like Dropbox.  Except Google-ified.

I’ve been a faithful Dropbox user for a few years now, and it really has become an indispensible part of my workflow. All my things are synced and working on files from home or the office is brain-dead simple. Thanks to Dropbox referrals, I’m currently rocking 20GB of free storage, and depending on what project I’m working on, I am using only a little or a pretty decent part of that allotment.

Google Drive ScreenshotEnter Google Drive. I applied for my account yesteday afternoon and come late evening, I had an email saying it was ready for me. I downloaded the Mac app, which looks and behaves just like Dropbox’s app. After syncing up with the mothership, it downloaded everything that was in my Google Docs folder. Which is OK, I guess, though I didn’t really need it. I use those in Google Docs.

Google Drive works just like Dropbox in that it puts a folder on your computer where you can drag files/folders to and they automatically sync up to your account. I found the uploads to be fast and unobtrusive. I found a way to un-sync my Google Docs, which freed up a little bit of space (I have a lot of Google docs.)

Here a few thoughts…

I like Dropbox’s public folder, where I can put things, right click on them and get a URL that I can share easily with people. That’s been handy for uploading ZIP files, large photos, you name it, it’s been super easy. Just this week, Dropbox added a feature to allow you to create a link to any file in your Dropbox. This is interesting, as it’s not a direct download but a link to Dropbox’s site and users can download your file from there. I saw a comment yesterday on Reddit I believe that said “isn’t this what got Megaupload in trouble?”

That basic functionality is missing, at least right off the bat, in Google Drive. There’s no public folder. To make a document shareable, I have to go to the browser-based version of Drive and select sharing, and much like Google Docs, I can pick people who can see my document or open it up to the whole world. I wish it was a little easier.

My other thoughts were about pricing. With Dropbox, new users get 2GB for free. With Google Drive, users get 5GB for free. Obviously, 5 > 2. But I’ve referred enough people that I’ve got 20GB from Dropbox. 20 > 5. But, Google allows people to buy more space. Isn’t that nice of them.

Buy More Space!

For $2.49 a month, I can get 25GB of storage, and as a bonus, I’ll get 25GB in Gmail as well. That’s a pretty interesting price point. What really caught my eye was for $4.99 a month, I could get 100GB of storage and syncing. That’s a crazy prize. 100GB at Dropbox will run you $19.99 a month. It will be interesting to see if Dropbox lowers their prices in response.

The thing here to remember is that Google has the biggest storage and data network in the world. Dropbox uses Amazon’s S3 service, so there is fixed costs it has when it comes to storage. That 100GB of storage from Amazon will run the average person $10, but at how much data they store, I’m sure they get a huge price break. Still – $4.99. Wow.

And then there’s privacy.

Both Google and Dropbox have had their share of privacy issues recently, and may people are freaked out with Google having access to all kinds of data now that they can use to index and ultimately sell ads against. This tweet from Merlin Mann was interesting.

Merlin Mann Tweet

Yes, if you store your data in Google Drive, they will have access to it. In fact, if you read their TOS, they’ll do more than access it:

That’s kind of scary. Dropbox’s terms are a bit less scary (H/T Jesse Lavery.) Are you willing to trade your info for the convienence of having your files anywhere and everywhere? Something to think about.

TL/DR; Google has free cloud storage, you can pay for more, privacy is something to pay attention to.

I love Dropbox.

NewImageIt’s made the job on syncing files across my desktop machines, laptop, iPhone and iPad drop-dead simple. Thanks to sharing a few links with people and doing the recent Dropbox scavenger hunt, I’ve got 4.75GB worth of storage.

I love too that you can share files with other Dropbox users. This has proven to be very valuable, especially in the office (and our senseless 100MB email quota.)

With a new web developer starting to work for me today and a second person working with us from the UK, I immediately thought of Dropbox as a way for us all to collaborate and share files easily and quickly.

Armed with that knowledge, I set up an account for my office (separate from my personal account) and paid $10 for 50GB of storage. It’s probably a bit more than we needed, but better to be safe than sorry.

Once the account was created, I set up a “JCU WEB” folder on my work account, and shared it with my personal Dropbox account. Thinking I had access to that 50GB of space, I put up about 5GB of files, archives and other stuff the team would need.

It turns out that Dropbox counts all that storage against my personal account space, not the 50GB quota of the paid account. There’s not a way that my team can use that 50GB that we’re paying for.

Lame, dudes.

In reading through the Dropbox forums, many users share this frustration. Dropbox has answer, but for many small teams, may be overkill.

They’ve released a product called Dropbox Teams, which for $795 a year, gives 5 users a shared 350GB of file space. They say:

Storage quotas are shared by the team rather than bound to individual accounts. Now you and your team can share one large pool of storage instead of having to manage the storage limitations of individual accounts. Shared folders only take up your team’s storage quota rather than space in each individual account.

That’s exactly what we need, but we don’t need 350GB. We need just the 50GB, or even let us connect to our own Amazon S3 account (that’s where Dropbox keeps everything anyway.)

I think if Dropbox could solve this problem – they’d find a lot of users willing to pay $10-20 a month for a shared pool of storage. I definitely would.

For us, it’s back to the drawing board on how to share project files. Amazon S3? Basecamp?

I was reminded today of a scene from Reservoir Dogs, early in the movie, when the group of guys are sitting around the table and Steve Buscemi starts into his tipping rant. During it, he opines:

“The words ‘too busy’ shouldn’t be in a waitresses vocabulary.”

This isn’t a post about that, but I thought of it when I was told today on two separate occasions that the files I was sending were too big. We’re talking 7 MB files, not gigs and gigs of video. 7 MB.

The words ‘the file is too big’ should not be in anyone’s vocabulary.

Are you running into problems because of your archaic email system can’t handle files over 1mb? Stuck in a world of 100mb email quotas? Fondly remember the days of Sneakernet?

Here are a few tools to help you.

Amazon S3

I know you’re stunned that I’d bring up S3, but seriously, it has unlimited storage, public availability and is super low cost. Need to use S3? There are a ton of tools, such as S3Fox, Transmit, and CloudBerry.

I’ve put up presentation materials on S3 to allow people to download them. It’s great because I don’t have to worry about storage or bandwidth or email bounces, and it costs me literally pennies to serve. No brainer.

Dropio

Drop.Io

Drop.io lets you, for free, host any type of file up to 100 MB. You can create a drop and let people download, upload, share and more. You can send files right to your drop via a custom email address, or call a number and save voice messages. It’s a neat system – and if you need more collaboration, there are paid plans that offer more storage space and features.

DropBox

If you’re like me, and find yourself either emailing yourself files or putting them on a flash drive to take home at the end of the day, then Dropbox is for you. It allows you to sync a folder between any number of computers (and your mobile devices) as well as a web interface. Users get 2GB of storage for free, with paid plans adding more space. I’m a huge fan.

What’s neat about DropBox is that there’s also a public folder, where you can make some of your files accessible via URL. Here’s an example picture of some nachos I took. Don’t those look good? DropBox totally served that yummy pic to you.

In the end, there are many ways, including the ones above and others like YouSentIt that make problems of sending out large files largely a problem of the past.

Dogs