On April 24th Google launched it’s long awaited Google Drive. It’s the new face of Google Documents, and it’s also Google’s rumored Dropbox-killer. It enters the online cloud storage scene crowded with competitors besides Dropbox that let you sync multiple folders, collaborate with friends, and stream data to your mobile device — so how does Drive fare with the others?
While Google Drive isn’t much more than a Docs rebranding that syncs to a folder on your computer, it has a few key features that make it worth checking out. First, Drive can open up to 30 kinds of files right inside your browser. Dropbox and a few others open files inside a “web gallery,” but Drive opens Photoshop files — even if you don’t have Photoshop on your computer. To this extent, Drive creates a quick preview experience inside your web browser that makes it much easier to thumb through files. Drive also includes an option to turn on OCR text scanning, which means that when you upload images to Drive, Google will scan the images for text and make them searchable. Really handy for Evernote notes and note images.
In terms of everyday use, Drive offers the same drag-and-drop syncing as Dropbox, and lets you pick which folders inside Drive you want to sync from within the desktop app. Also like Dropbox, you cannot pick other folders on your computer to sync to Drive. In this way, Drive’s real strengths lie on the web and with the features previously mentioned. It’ll also tie right in to Google+, Gmail, Android, and other Google services that will let you drop-in or upload files. Additionally, Drive features a built-in document editor. You can’t yet use Drive with multiple Google accounts, which is a pain, but we’d expect that feature in due time.
Drive has already launched on the web, for Mac, Windows, and Android devices, with iOS support on the way “in the coming weeks.” Drive comes with 5GB of storage free, with generous upgrade options like $2.49/month for 25GB of extra storage and $4.99/month for 100GB of storage.
Dropbox is the go-to solution for syncing files across multiple devices for a reason. It’s a no-brainer to use, allows groups to share files with a couple clicks, and offers few settings for you to mess up. Perhaps the app’s greatest strength is the API it’s built on, which hundreds of developers have used to create apps that utilize Dropbox. But, Dropbox does have some drawbacks: It offers just 2GB of storage for free, and forces you to keep everything you need synced inside of just one folder (though you can pick which folders you want synced within your Dropbox). Extra storage is also very expensive — Dropbox offers 100GB of storage for $19.99/month, while Drive offers the same amount of storage for $4.99/month. Additionally, it would be pretty futile to try to use Dropbox as a complete backup tool because it would mean that you’ve have to store everything you want to back up inside your Dropbox folder. Dropbox is ultra-reliable and plugged in to all your favorite apps, but doesn’t offer a ton of options. Pricing: 50GB for $9.99/month ($99.99/year); 100GB for $19.99/month ($199.99/year).