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Google launched its Drive online storage service overnight Australian time, and we've delved into the service to bring you what the business traveller needs to know -- set out by the good news and the bad news.
Where useful, we've compared it with Dropbox (the most popular online "cloud" storage system) and Microsoft's newer SkyDrive offering.
Good news: 5GB for free, up to 16TB if you pay
Google's gunning for the competition with its pay-monthly pricing model (in US dollars):
- 5GB: free
- 25GB: $2.49
- 100GB: $4.99
- 1TB: $49.99
- 16TB: for $799.99
That 100GB figure is a quarter the $19.99 monthly price Dropbox charges and the same as Microsoft's yearly fee for 100GB of SkyDrive space.
Google Docs formats and Gmail space don't count against your Drive storage either.
And as soon as you go paid with Drive, you'll get 25GB storage for your Gmail account -- up from the just-raised 10GB basic limit.
(If you're an existing paid storage user, you'd better check out Google's FAQ on what happens to your pricing plan.)
Bad news: it's not available for everyone yet
Not every Google account is enabled for Google Drive yet -- head over to drive.google.com/start to see if yours is ready, or if you'll need to sign up to be notified.
Drive is currently compatible with Windows, Mac and Android operating systems.
Want to use another device or OS? You'll have to wait until Google gets around to it, although Google's Sundar Pinchai says "Were also working hard on a Drive app for your iOS devices."
Good news (but...): character recognition in images and PDFs
Remember that 400-page PDF scan of a contract that you had to hunt through for the one reference you needed? Google Drive uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) tech to scan through PDFs and images for you.
The but: Google has its paws on your documents, which we're sure will fill you and your corporate security team with joy. Look forward to the next stage of Google Drive: encrypting documents before uploading them.
Good news (but...): easier sharing with existing Google accounts
The fact that Google accounts are so widespread is pretty useful: no need to sign up for a new account to use the drive service.
The but: you might not want to use the same Google account for sharing business documents and your personal files. And Google accounts are only as secure as the user makes them, with no corporate password rules applying.
Bear in mind also that your existing Google Docs bookmarks may need updating: Docs will redirect to Drive once your account is Drive-enabled. You might want to let your less savvy friends and contacts know so they don't get confused.
Good/bad news: time for a bloodbath in online storage
Whether you decide to use Google Drive or not, Google's entry into the market means that everyone else will have to raise their game.
That's mostly good news for you, the business traveller: competition is usually a good spur to extra features, more storage and better service. But if Google's market power means new entrants find it less attractive, or existing players drop out of the market, that's a bad thing.
Your thoughts: what's the good news and the bad news?
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