Google Drive launched last week with quite a bit of fanfare, proving that even geeky stuff like cloud storage can make the mainstream news. But what is Google Drive and, more importantly, what can it do for you and the fam?
Think of Google Drive as a hard disk on the Internet. You can access it by dragging files into a special folder on your own personal hard drive or by visiting drive.google.com and downloading them over the web. Also any documents you write in Google Docs will appear in Drive as "links" to a web-based editor.
The best thing? You can install Drive on all of your computers and your special sync folder will be identical on every single machine. You can also drop a file into your PC's folder at work and come home and edit it on your laptop.
Google Drive gives you 5GB of space for free and you pay a few dollars a month for up to 50GB. You can use the space for anything -- storing photos, backing up documents, and transferring files from place to place and person to person.
The coolest way to use Drive is to drop a big file into your Drive folder and then share the folder or file with friends. Your friend will get an email that asks them to visit a website to download it directly. You can also email a link or paste it on a website (like this). This is great for sharing huge batches of photos with relatives. You can label items as private, semi-public (people need a special link), and completely public.
You can also search inside Google Drive, allowing you to dump all your documents in there for quick retrieval. All you have to do is type in a few words of the document you're looking for and Drive will bring it up for you. It can even search inside Word documents and PDFs. Imagine dropping all your recipes into Drive and then bringing up the one for "fermented skate" in an instant a few weeks before your friends from out of town are set to arrive? Mmmm ... skate.
You can also use it to store scanned copies of important documents while traveling -- your passport, credit cards, etc. -- and because it is secure you won't have to worry about people snooping through your drives. If you're trapped without your own PC, you can go to any cyber cafe and log into Drive to bring up your data.
There are other services like Drive -- dropbox.com and SugarSync are two excellent alternatives -- but this one works well with Google Docs and the search is a big plus. Give it a try and let me know what you're going to use the cloud for in your home.
Are you planning on using Google Drive now that you know more about it or is it still all a mystery to you?
Images via Google
Do it yourself
Concierge service through your credit card