Once youre allowed in, Googles new cloud storage service, usually called GDrive, is nice for people who need to find a place to store files so that they can access them on another device or share them with others. You get 5GB of storage for free, and you can buy more. Google Drive is closely linked with Google Docs to the point that they appear to be a single entity.
If you already use Google Docs, then your work will magically appear in GDrive. In fact, when I loaded the Google Drive application on a Windows 7 machine, I found things that Id stashed in Google Docs for a long forgotten news story and never looked at again. Theres nothing like old press releases to bring back memories.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has been working on SkyDrive, which exited the beta program and went into general availability early in 2008. Like Google Drive, its a cloud-based service and it has applications for your computer. While SkyDrive has been around for years, Microsoft has just released a much improved version of this cloud service, and it offers some things that Google does not. Like GDrive, SkyDrive is also free, but you get 7GB if youre a new user, or if you had 25GB when you first signed up, you can keep that.
As was the case with Google Drive and Google Docs, SkyDrive apparently shares some resources with Office 365. When I loaded the new SkyDrive client onto a Windows 7 machine, I found the test documents Id originally created when testing Office 365. Those were even more boring than the old press releases Id found in Google Drive.
Google Drive and SkyDrive both support mobile devices, but SkyDrive does a far better job of it. As youd expect, SkyDrive is available for Windows Phone devices. There you can set your client to automatically upload photos taken with your Windows Phone to your SkyDrive. But SkyDrive is also available for iOS devices, and there are a number of apps available from Google Play that support SkyDrive for Android devices. A few Android devices come with a SkyDrive app installed, but most dont. You can even get a SkyDrive app for your BlackBerry.
GDrive, meanwhile, includes an app for Android. Everything else must use a browser to connect to Google Drive, although there are reports that Google will be releasing iOS apps for GDrive at some point. Other mobile devices will have to continue to use their respective browsers, but its worth noting that not all browsers will work. According to Googles information for GDrive, some older versions of Android wont work with the Drive, even using the browser.
GDrive Terms of Service May Worry Business Users
In any case, most recent devices can access either cloud service through their browsers, so if youre not otherwise supported, youve got that.
To start using Google Drive on a computer, you follow a link to drive.google.com and click on the download button. Youll need your Google sign-on to install and use Google Drive. Once the software is installed, youll have a folder on your desktop with the Google Drive logo.
Getting SkyDrive is a similar process: You go to skydrive.live.com and follow the instructions to download SkyDrive for your device. Youll need a Windows Live ID to accomplish this. With SkyDrive, your folder will appear in your personal Windows folder, although you can create a shortcut on your desktop. Clients for both services are reached through the app store for your mobile device.
Both services allow sharing of documents, photos, videos and the like. The biggest difference is that people you share with on Google will need to have access to Google Drive. With SkyDrive you can create a link that people can follow even if they dont use SkyDrive. If you use Microsoft Office OneNote, youll find your notes in your SkyDrive.
Google Drive has been the subject of much hype on the blogosphere lately, with predictions that it spells doom for Dropbox, SkyDrive, iCloud and maybe Box. In reality, GDrive is nice, but its not substantially nicer than anything else. While Google Drive is now linked directly to Google Docs, that only matters if you use Google Docs. If you dontand most people dontthen Google Drive is yet another nice cloud storage option.
Its worth noting that theres been much discussion about Googles terms of service that seem to say that even though you retain ownership of the material you store on Googles services, the company has the right to use the material, including the right to display it in public. If you plan to use Googles Drive for your business, you should probably have your legal staff take a look at this. But that caution is true of any cloud service you use.
If I had to pick one of these services at this point in time, it would be the new version of SkyDrive. I can find a SkyDrive client for every device in my office, and they all work. Thats something I cant do with Google Drive. But that may change, and if it does, then what matters is if the cloud service supports the devices you need.