Because Google Docs has its own document formats, there are three things to keep in mind:
- Documents stored in Google's file formats must be edited and viewed online. Clicking on a document in your desktop Google Drive folder will automatically open a browser to take you to your online Google Drive. You can view Google format documents locally in Google Chrome if you set it up properly, but you can't edit files.
- Documents in native formats can be edited offline and viewed online in Google Drive if there is a compatible file converter. If you want to edit documents online, they need to be converted to a Google Docs format.
- Documents are not automatically converted when they are synced.
The other thing that is important to know is that only your documents are synced. If you want to have documents shared with you automatically synced, you'll need to drag a copy to your My Drive folder.
As an example, here is a local Google Drive.
Local Google Drive
And the online My Drive. Looks like everything is synced.
But selecting All Items reveals additional (shared) documents that were not automatically synced.
The video below has some more info on what's new in Google Drive.
Security and Support
Google Drive doesn't bring anything new to the party in terms of security. A secure web connection (HTTPS) is used for file sync and viewing. But documents are not stored encrypted, unless you do the encryption.
I was suprised to learn that you get email and phone (!) support if you purchase storage from Google. Otherwise, you are limited to Google's online support resources.
Plans & Cost
If you are an existing Google user who previously purchased storage, things have changed a bit. I paid for 80 GB of storage in December last year, costing about $16, and now Google states than I am on the $20/year plan. The new storage plans, however, seem pretty steep in comparison as shown in the screenshot below comparing the old and new plans.
Google Drive Storage Plans
For example, 100 GB now costs $5/month or $60/year. Buying more storage gets you a bit more of a discount. Google makes it a bit harder to compare plans since the new plans are monthly only while the old were yearly. But the new storage prices are between 2 and 2.5 times higher, so you're definitely paying for the privilege of the new sync feature.
However, according to Google, I can stay on my existing plan as long as I:
- Keep my account active
- Keep payment information in Google Wallet accurate and up to date
- Don't cancel or upgrade my current plan
Google further notes that if your account lapses, your credit card is declined or you choose to change your storage plan in any way (upgrade or downgrade), you'll be switched to the new Google storage plan pricing.
So how do these prices compare to the competition? The following table considers only the price of storage and not any additional features. It's clear, however, that Microsoft and Google are aggressively pricing their storage, while market leader Dropbox is getting a pretty good premium and SugarSync a bit less so.
|Google Drive||Dropbox||SugarSync||Microsoft SkyDrive|
|Free Storage||5 GB||2 GB||5 GB||7 GB|
So what's the overall verdict on Google Drive? Frankly, after all the hype and anticipation, I'm a bit disappointed. Yes, it's good to have local access to your Google Docs files and the pricing is good. But Drive's features aren't different enough from Docs to warrant the fanfare Drive received.
I would have liked to be able to edit my Google spreadsheets and other documents locally and I still can't. And the Android app is long overdue for an automatic photo upload feature.
So I say again, it's good to finally see the Google Drive, and it's good to have local access to those files stored on the Google cloud. But Google hasn't done enough to convince me that Google Drive is anything special.