Google Drive, compared to the attention service like Dropbox and iCloud, seems to just sit in the wings barely looked at. But much to my surprise, it is a fantastic service with flexible backup options.
About six months ago, I started looking for a security service. Not just an old cloud storage service: one that can store the weekly backups from my massive desktop computer, which holds a decade's worth of photos, documents, videos and even more exotic, larger files like virtual machines.
I settled on Google Drive, AKA the new "Google One" because it is sometimes labeled for consumers. After testing the general consumer levels from Dropbox, Box.com, Microsoft's OneDrive and a handful of others. For the specific goal of backing up hundreds of gigabytes at once, while keeping the file and directory structure on my desk, while costing as little as possible, it met my needs perfectly.
I think I'm not the only one in this situation, and others would benefit from a comparison between paid options. So, without further ado, here are the reasons why I settled on Google Drive for my cloud backup system.
Simple file management
When you install the Google Drive desktop component, mixed the title "Backup and Sync from Google," it's all pretty straightforward. Log in to the service, select a primary folder location on your device and start downloading things from the cloud when the initial synchronization begins. But then you come to this page in the little program:
See this option to add external files to your account? It's an obvious feature … but one that is actually very rare, because these security services go. Dropbox does not: everything you want to put on Dropbox's cloud device must be within its specific folder. Microsoft OneDrive, Box.com and Apple's iCloud don't do it: ditto. For everyone, even if you pay for terabytes of space, you need to keep all your synchronized items in a single folder.
That's a problem for me because I use a fast SSD for the desktop's primary storage device and a massive, cheap hard drive for backup and other space-hacking files. Google Drive allows me to keep a "primary" folder with synchronized cloud objects on the desktop – a kind of fast "pocket" for frequently used files that I often access from multiple devices while syncing my gigantic backup folder to the cloud.
To get the same thing done in the other services I tried, I would either have to move my entire folder to the large, slow hard drive (not ideal for frequently used Photoshop templates) or sync files back and forth between the devices. It adds me a more moving part in my attitude, between my backup program (Cobian 11) and the cloud storage service itself. I tried to make it work with Dropbox and OneDrive, using tools like Boxifier or Microsoft Synctoy … and at one time managed to make a recursive backup system that was backing up my SSD over and over until the entire hard drive was full . iCloud and OneDrive provide desktop and document folders synchronization, but still can't add any other external folders or devices.
To put it simply: Google Drive makes it easy. And if you want your backups to be automatic and simple, it is very worthwhile.
Excellent Web Tool
Let me tell you about my experience with Dropbox's paid levels, and try to handle over 400GB of data in a single backed-up folder. At one point I realized that I had made a mistake in Cobian Backup a freeware backup program that I used with Dropbox and would have to start from scratch with my backup, which would take several days a week to upload to my home connection . So I deleted the original backup C driver folder and waited.
The day later, the C folder still took up space in my Dropbox account even though it was away from the local machine. I could go to Dropbox's web interface and try to delete it … but as it turns out, Dropbox doesn't allow you to delete a folder with more than 30,000 files on it on the web. For some reason. It must be done through the desk. Where the folder was … not there anymore.
Okay. Then I went to a second machine, the How-To Geek desktop, and installed the Dropbox Windows client. I set it up to download the synchronized C folder and deleted it as soon as it arrived, hoping the change would sync to the server. Nothing.
I tried this trick a few times, on different Windows machines, both real and virtual. None of it worked. In frustration, I reached out to Dropbox's support, and they said it would take time for the change to sync and for me to get that space back. "It will happen Friday!" Said the support guy on Wednesday. On Saturday I still spoke to support and told me to just delete my entire account and let me start if they couldn't handle getting rid of the sad folder. They replied with links to support articles that I have already read and tried several times.
Contrast all this to Google Drive, where you can sign in to the web and access all files in your primary folder, all your web-based documents in Google Docs, and any files you have backed up outside the main desktop folder. You can download or delete any file or folder at any time. Even after removing 400 GB directories, it never takes more than an hour or two for Google's remote system to reflect that change. That puts Dropbox in shame.
Google has recently changed its pricing model under the "One One" brand. (Yes, it's a horrible name. We work out in an instant.) At $ 10 a month, I was prepared to spend peacefully with all my desktop files stored remotely, offering a very generous two terabytes of storage. At $ 10 for consumers, Dropbox and Apple offered iCloud a terabyte, Box has 100GB for $ 5 or "unlimited" for $ 15 (with a 5GB file limit that doesn't work for a full desktop backup). Microsoft OneDrive is the only main competitor that beats them at $ 10 a month, with 6TB of storage space for six users … but at most only one terabyte each.
So Google is a pretty clear leader in terms of price. There are other independent options out there that can beat it, but they don't offer Google's tools or service integration. It can be more valuable than you realize: that 2 TB of space also applies to Gmail, all your Google Docs files and Google Photos too – for most users, this means that these services are virtually unlimited.
But wait, pause For effect, there is more. Google's A storage plan can be shared with up to five other users for free, on an unlimited number of computers and mobile devices. The overall storage space does not have the departments that OneDrive has to deal with. Paying for a premium plan also gives you 24-7 access to live support, over chat, email or (wondering under!) A phone line. It's a big thing in Google, where it's almost impossible to get hold of a real living person as a free user.
One of the reasons I tried so hard to get Dropbox to work for my installation, even though it offers less storage on my budget and makes me go through hoops to get my folders in order, is speed. Based on my calculations, I used 90-95% of my available upload speed when I released it.
Google Drive is not fast. When synchronizing, you use 50-60% of my upload capacity, even if no upload limit is set in the desktop application. I suspect this is because Google does much more file processing at the end: when I switched Cobian to create large ZIP files instead of a simple mirror installation, it went much faster. However, due to the way the backup program works, it would mean another full upload of my C driver's backup folder every week, rather than the incremental I wanted.
Google Drive mobile apps are not as good as Dropbox, and I still keep a Dropbox account active for that reason. When I take a photo or a screenshot on my phone and I'm on my home Wi-Fi, the Dropbox app is smart enough to synchronize the file directly to my computer while it is being uploaded to the cloud. They appear on my PC almost immediately. Google Drive still needs to upload to Google, then download to the desktop, which may take several minutes. That's right in my workflow.
And I would be asked if I didn't address the fact that Google Drive is good, Google. While the company is using 256-bit SSL / TLS encryption, privacy advocates are still careful to use any of the major web services more than they absolutely need, for good reason. Smaller and more independent services – inevitably more expensive and less integrated – can better suit your needs if security or privacy is a concern.
But for my attitude and calm in thoughts I long to have years and years of work files back up both locally and remotely, I am willing to overlook it – and for easy use and price, I think many also come.