Google Throws a Cloud Storage Gauntlet

… at the feet of Dropbox, Microsoft and everyone else offering online storage services

Clouds

A couple years ago, I did a huge article for InformationWeek on the top cloud based storage services available at the time. These services were cross platform – meaning they could be used on Windows, OS X, Linux and perhaps a mobile OS or two (most likely, Android and iOS). At the time, Dropbox was the king of the hill. They were the service that most everyone knew about, and its name had become synonymous with cloud storage.  You shoved things in your dropbox whether you had an account with them or another service.  They were so popular and easy to use, that BYTE, hosted via InformationWeek, and the now RE-defunct reincarnation of BYTE Magazine, asked that their editing staff use it for all of our articles.

Today, that’s no longer the case. Dropbox is still a VERY popular service; but there are other solutions out there that should be given very serious consideration.  Among them are Microsoft’s OneDrive, LiveDrive and of course, Google Drive.  There are a ton of others out there, but recently Google did something VERY cool and very strategic. They dramatically lowered the price of and restructured their storage plans.

The new plans… oh yeah. They’re crazy cheap.

→ 1TB – $10/ month
→ 10TB – $100/ month
→ 20TB – $200/ month
→ 30TB – $300/ month

Notice, please that these are measured in TERABYTES, and not gigabytes. You can store a file up to 1TB in size. If you use Google Apps as your office suite of choice, those files don’t use your storage space. They’re up in Google Drive for free. If you use Google Apps or Gmail for email, your mail shares storage space with Google Drive.  If you use Google+ to store and share photos, photos bigger than 2048×2048 pixels use your storage. Anything and everything smaller than that is free.  Please also note that the 1TB plan is the INTRODUCTORY or lowest tiered plan offered.  Skip going to Starbucks twice a month, and it’s paid for… the bottom three tiers are obviously meant for businesses.  Unless you’re a total shutterbug, it’s doubtful you’re going to come close to filling up or need 10TB – 30TB of storage.  Their prices are also consumer prohibitive.

Previously, I had a 400GB plan and I was paying $20/ month for it. Google migrated me off that legacy plan and gave me 2.5x the storage for half the price.  The change was instantaneous and completely transparent.  In the blink of an eye, I went to using 10% of my storage to less than 1%; and I’m only paying half of what I was previously paying for the past year or so.

I’ve got a Google+ account, but I don’t share any photos on it. Most of my friends and family are on Facebook, and that’s where I share any photos I take.  It’s unlikely that I will fill up my 1TB Google Drive cup any time soon. Honestly, I’ll be very lucky to get back to 10-12% usage again.  However, I like having all of my productivity data backed up via an off-site system.

In fact, I have quite an extensive backup strategy:
→ My productivity data backed up via Google Drive
→ All of my Mac’s user data is locally backed up via Time Machine
→ All of my iTunes data is stored in iCloud and is backed up locally via a home network NAS.  I also employ iTunes Match to backup music I didn’t purchase via iTunes.
→ All of my Mac’s user data is backed up via BackBlaze.

While this may seem a bit like overkill, if you have ANYTHING critical – family photos of friends and loved ones who may have passed, are old, or are simply irreplaceable; critical, encrypted personal files (like birth, marriage or death certificates or tax documents); sensitive work or project files, etc. – then having a backup strategy similar to this, where you have a few different ways of getting back something that may have accidentally been lost, can be very important to you.  There is NOTHING in this world like the relief you feel when you realize that you have the correct version of the file you need backed up locally when your internet connection is on the fritz and you have a work deadline to meet; or vice versa when you find that a local file and its backup copy are both corrupted and your online backup system (like Backblaze) allows you to retrieve a previous version of the file without missing a beat. It’s at that point that you look at your backup strategy and say, “yep.   I’m awesome. I set this up correctly and the $XX dollars I pay for this every month is more than worth it.”

It’s at that point that your family/accountant/business partner or boss crowns you, “king of anything,” and tells you how awesome they think you really are.  When you don’t have it, you better have some other kind of golden parachute – a comfy couch to sleep on, paper records, other accounts or a new job to go to – if you don’t have that kind of backup strategy in place.

With prices like this – $10 bucks a month for 1TB of cloud storage – I can’t think of any valid reason why you wouldn’t have something like this setup for your data.  I’m not saying that Google Drive is a must have for everyone. There are a number of reasons why some people may not feel comfortable with trusting Google, of all companies, with your personal and private data, family photos, etc.  I mean…they are GOOGLE after all…  However, after paying upwards of $50 bucks a month for about the same amount of space on another service, this seems like a total no brainer to me.

What do YOU think, though?  Do you have a Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive or other cloud based storage account?  Do you use the free version, or do you pay for additional space? Do you feel comfortable with Google being the steward of your photos, home movies and tax documentation? More importantly, is there a better deal out there?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this deal, this issue and on Google Drive (and other cloud based storage solutions) in general, in the comments section below.

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