Google Drive is essentially the next generation of Google Docs but with a great addition: cloud storage. With Drive, you get all the capabilities you are familiar with from Docs such as the creating, editing, and sharing of Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and the less popular forms and drawings. However, you also get 5GB of free storage space to upload and store documents from non-Google origins. Many are already familiar with the style of file and folder organization within Drive from Google Docs, but even for new users the interface proves to be easy to use and efficient.
Originally the files saved on your Drive account could only be accessed through logging into your Google account on a web browser or through mobile applications. However, those crafty engineers and designers at Google have come up with a solution for that as well. Recently the option to download and install “Google Drive for Mac/PC” has become available. By installing this application, a folder will be created on your personal computer where all of your Google Drive files will be synced bidirectionally. That’s right, simply drag and drop into the folder and poof, to the cloud your files go. Of course this syncing takes place on your mobile Google Drive applications as well.
Some more good news, in the event of an Internet connectivity catastrophe, you can still use the Google drive folder on your computer; assuming you have set up the offline access option. When Internet comes back, all your changes are synced right away. One major downside to this new sync service is the fact that you can only sync one Google account with the application. Alas, no separate Google drive folders for your work and personal accounts on the same computer. So far I have found that sharing important folders across accounts solves the problem at the cost of some storage space.
Other than the standard 5GB of storage space for an account, one can choose to subscribe to a monthly fee for more space. The cheapest being 25GB for $2.49/month. There are also a number of applications in the Chrome Web Store designed to work with Google Drive, including some fairly powerful word processing options. It is possible that some apps as well as some features, such as offline access for Gmail and Docs, will not work with every browser. However, you can rest assured that everything will work with Chrome.
Perhaps one of the most useful features of Drive is the ability to quickly share your files with any of your Gmail contacts. This ability to share is a feature hard to match in other Cloud services, since few have the number of users as Gmail. Google Drive is definitely one of the most appealing options for cloud storage at this time. The integration of Drive into the ever-growing Google ecosystem makes it one of the most useful and unique options of it’s kind. If you have a Gmail account and haven’t taken advantage of this free service, it may be time for a test drive.