Vulnerabilities / Threats // Insider Threats
4/24/2012
02:18 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Google Drive: Hands-On Winner

Google's new online storage service represents the natural evolution of Google Docs, and another transformation for the world of collaborative file management.

Google launched Google Drive, its new cloud-based file storage, management, and sharing service, Tuesday. It offers 5 GB of data storage for free and significantly more if you're willing to pony up some cash each month. It supports 30 different file types and a number of mobile and desktop platforms. Google Drive isn't exactly unique, however, and competitors Dropbox, Box, iCloud, SkyDrive, and others offer similar features sets. What makes Google Drive different or better than the rest, and who will benefit from it the most?

I've used Google Docs every day for more than five years. Its online document and sharing/collaboration tools are an essential element to my workflow. Considering how many governments and business have "gone Google," I am surely not the only one who's come to rely on Google Docs.

Tuesday's introduction of Google Drive is more a revamp of Google Docs than it is a brand new service. Essentially, Google is rebranding Google Docs to Google Drive, and modifying its user interface to suit a bunch of new features.

Docs already lets users create documents, spreadsheets, and other files. Those files could be edited, shared, downloaded, uploaded, and so on. None of that has changed, only now Docs, er, Drive users have a minimum of 5 GB of storage of which to make use. There are a few key differences, however, that dramatically improve the usefulness of the whole shebang.

[ Learn more about Google's new cloud storage service. See Google Drive Arrives, At Last. ]

In addition to the browser-based user interface and file access, Google has developed dedicated applications for the Android, Windows, and OS X platforms (an iOS app is on the way). These apps give PC and smartphone/tablet users instant access to their files and will automatically upload, download, and sync them across multiple devices types.

I downloaded and installed the Google Drive app on two different Macs, an Android tablet, and an Android smartphone. On the Macs, I was able to download and sync all my Google Docs files to a local "Google Drive" folder. Want to make a file on your desktop available to your smartphone? Easy, just drag and drop it into the Google Drive file and it syncs across the 'Net where it can be accessed on the smartphone. Dropbox handles this same feature very well.

The real killer feature is search. You've always been able to search through Google Docs, but the new tools available in Google Drive let users sort among file types, file owners, file visibility, and so on. Being able to specify searches just for PDFs or presentation files can really help narrow down results and speed up the searching process.

Perhaps what's more enjoyable than easy file syncing, though, is easy file sharing. I'm not talking about sending a spreadsheet to your boss. I'm talking about social networks and other services such as Google+. Sending files, such as photos, from Google Drive to Google+ or Picasa is a breeze. It's also a snap to send files, including music tracks, documents, or photos, from an Android device to the online drive.

Who will benefit most from Google Drive? The service is clearly meant for use by consumers and not necessarily the enterprise, where intranets are the norm for file storage, management, and sharing. Small businesses that can't afford to purchase intricate database systems can reap plenty of rewards from the simplicity offered by Google Drive.

Will Google Drive replace the services it acts to mimic? Probably some of them. It's one thing to be able to swap files from device to device, but something else to create, share, and collaborate on files with coworkers or others. For organizations or individuals who don't need the powerful document tools, sticking with services such as Dropbox or Box will make sense. Any business invested in Google's services and Google Docs should look seriously at Google Drive.

As companies increase their use of cloud-based applications, IT and security professionals must make some tough and far-reaching decisions about how to provision, deprovision, and otherwise manage user access. This Dark Reading report, How To Manage Identity In The Public Cloud, examines the options and provides recommendations for determining which one is right for your organization. (Free registration required.)

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Rob B.
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Rob B.,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/31/2012 | 5:12:47 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
I believe the term you're looking for is "hands-down." That means "in the final analysis," and probably comes from card games: once everyone's hand is down, we see the final outcome, and the game is over. "Hands-on," on the other hand, implies that someone (end-user? Google? Mr. Zeman?) is intimately involved in the process, just as a "hands-on manager" is someone who keeps close tabs on projects, resources, and employees.
MSURESH441
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MSURESH441,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/26/2012 | 12:29:37 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
I think a credible review starts the conversation at a much higher level. If Zeman had done a better job of assessing Google Drive's strengths and weaknesses, the comments might have been able to explore secondary topics of substance that it wasn't feasible to cover in any review.

Because he sounded like my 13-year-old daughter after a Justin Bieber concert, the comments had to spend their time and energy performing basic QA on an exceptionally weak piece.

This isn't a case of people taking the piece out of context-- or the work being prepared under pressure and lacking in perspective. Every other review I've seen (and I've read about a dozen) concluded, for different reasons, that Google Drive was a capable but not outstanding entry in a very crowded field. Mr. Zeman looks bad because his review is appalling.
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/26/2012 | 2:07:26 AM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
I may be biased, but in this era of me-too "journalism," I think unique, hands-on reviews are a key content differentiator. (And, as someone with a fair bit of experience with reviews, I understand that any review represents a snapshot in time and has to be taken in context.) The conversation that has grown out of the review represents the best of what a social conversation can do: extend a story and enrich it with the insight and experience of the community.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
Bruce Benson
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Bruce Benson,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 7:39:07 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
I use both skydrive and google docs (now drive). I do most of my work in docs and then use some of the features of skydrive if I need them (ie, clipart, etc.).

skydrive is pretty much "hurry up and wait" when trying to do simple things (such as launch a document and get asked 2-3 times to approve its launch/editing because it might not be safe). I find docs/drive much more productive and works closer to the "speed of thought"(TM) than skydrive. That speed is more important to me the vast majority of the time than the richer features of skydrive.

With that said, I am happy to use both as the price is right.
JPERRAULT014
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JPERRAULT014,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 6:39:43 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
I have to +1 krischej's comment regarding the Google Drive Terms of Service (ToS).

If you use Google Drive with the current version of the ToS, Google can share your original work publicly and without your permission. So I encourage everyone with the next million-dollar idea to please post it to Google Drive, so I can get a jump on buffering my bank account.

Snippet from Google Drive ToS:

"When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content."
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 6:09:42 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
In an enterprise context, which is our primary focus here, it seems to me the upshot is you need to negotiate specific terms about data ownership into your contract / service level agreement - and make it clear that they override any trap doors that might be lurking in the overall Google terms of service.

There's a reason enterprise IT would rather negotiate a contract they have to pay for than take advantage of free consumer services in general.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 6:04:15 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
It's not in Google's "best interest" to spell out their T's and C's clearly. If they did, they would lose just about every account holder that bothered to read them.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 5:48:03 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
Many readers have raised questions about Google's terms of service. However, as the TechDirt blog points out "this piece of legal lingo doesn't come from the Google Drive terms of service, but from Google's overall terms for all their services. Meaning it already applies to everything from Gmail to Google Mars" - see http://www.techdirt.com/articl...

In other words, if you use Gmail or Google Docs, you've been living under these terms for some time. Google apparently intends for this language to apply primarily to its consumer properties, and it makes other commitments for specific services and to its paying Google Apps customers that probably override this.

I agree they ought to spell that out clearly, however.
mwatterud486
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mwatterud486,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 3:17:56 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
Make sure you read the terms of use. My interpretation is that once you load it to Google Drive, they have rights to it, even after you halt the service. Make sure you read. I will continue to use services where I retain the rights and control of my information.
ansarmoh
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ansarmoh,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/25/2012 | 3:03:57 PM
re: Google Drive: Hands-On Winner
Actually, the author of this article comes across as a Google fanboy.

I own an Android phone and an Android tablet but I agree 100% with ajones980! SkyDrive gave me 25 GB free and its features are comparable to Google Drive (granted it is yet to arrive on Android). Google Drive gives me only 5GB. I am not claiming one is better than the other but the author failed to convince me to even sign up with Google Drive. I fail to understand how it is a "hands-on winner".

The author made an absolute claim that Google Drive is the winner without backing it up. Poor judgement, even worse poor articulation. I want the last 3 minutes of my life back.
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