Note: I’ve since added a new post, revisiting Google Drive a few months later..
After the world’s worst kept secret launched on Tuesday, it was a mad scramble for anybody with a Google Account or a Google Apps account to get their dirty mits on Google Drive. Having tried it myself on my work iMac (a thing of magical beauty – 12Gb RAM, 1Tb HD and decent graphics that replaces the old MacBook which has been relegated to basic internet and word processing duties at home) and my MacBook Pro – and I’m absolutely not impressed.
For starters, I keep getting “Unable to Sync” errors galore. Constant restarts can help, but it’s an absolute PITA. What’s worse is that Google does have a method of getting debug information but it’s not obvious until you head over to piss-poor Google Groups (I still hate the fact they replaced the speedy Pistachio platform with this monstrosity of a pig-dog forum system) to find the magical key combination.
Looking through the help system, it suggested that I disconnect the account and re-connect. Alas! If you do this, you can’t remap the Google Drive folder again – you’ll need to move/rename it and let it sync from scratch. The client is obviously unintelligent enough to work out what’s new and what isn’t and sync accordingly. This is an absolute PITA.
I also hate that the Mac client (at least) does not give me any indications as to:
a) How much bandwidth is being used (just Syncing X of X) – how long will it take? What files are you currently syncing? What? I’d like to know exactly what’s going on, please.
b) Does Google Drive support LAN syncing? Not mentioned, and I doubt it. Dropbox has proven invaluable in that I can share files with my wife or whoever else may be running Dropbox in the office (or wherever I happen to be).
c) Computer management. I can’t link/unlink computers within the Google Drive web interface. Google Apps for Business users should have an option to allow their users to download the client – however roguish elements could download and install the client on whatever machines they like and risk exposing corporate data. There absolutely needs to be granular controls over this – it’s an all or nothing approach at the moment.
d) No revision management in the client. You have to do that on the web, plus any revisions that you lock take up space. Dropbox – with the Pack Rat option – allows unlimited revisions and none of them take up any more space.
So what’s good?
a) I can use my Google storage – 80Gb for $20 a year versus $9.99 + $3.99 a month. Google Drive is cheaper.
b) Google Drive’s syncing seems to be substantially faster than Dropbox. Amazon S3 data transfer has never been particularly fast – and it’s about time Amazon considered opening a London PoP rather than the nearest one being Ireland.
c) SLA – it’s suggested that the Google Apps control panel elements of Google Drive are protected under the general SLA for Google Apps for Business users, but not the Drive components itself. Which seems odd.
As for all this hoo-hah over privacy and what Google can do with your data – it’s hogwash. People seem to have quite bad memories as all this was addressed a long while ago. In essence: they need your permission to work with your data in order to provide the services. They are not going to nick your short story uploaded to Google Docs and make a film from it! That said, Google could do with paying their laywers to produce their ToS and contracts in plain, simple, and easy to understand English rather than what it current has since it suggests to me that if people can misinterpret Google’s policies as wildly as they have, something is very wrong in the way it’s worded.
But back to Google Drive versus Dropbox. Google has much work to do before I can trust it sufficiently to use the service – in the mean time, I’ll be sticking with Dropbox. It’s slicker, works very well, and has not given me any grief (well – okay – a bit of panic over that nasty security incident a long while back, but thankfully there have been no repeats – the thing about mistakes is that you learn from them and Dropbox certainly has and that’s okay with me).