Google Drive is Out of Support in December 2017

If you don’t have Google Backup and Sync, you better get crackin’…

Google drive

In July of 2017, Google announced that it was introducing a new file synchronization product called Google Backup and Sync. The desktop and smartphone/ tablet app is meant to replace Google Drive, as Backup and Sync does nearly everything that Drive does.

However, Google has stated that its going to stop supporting Google Drive in December of 2017 and will stop working entirely on 2018-03-18. This delay in the overall transition plan between Drive and Backup and Sync is designed to make the transition to the newer service a bit easier on folks who are really invested into Drive. The changes to the service allow users to sync files and folders on your Desktop as well as making all of your photos part of Google Photos as well.

The differences in the service is revealed when you enable its broader file synchronization abilities. Until then, it does the same thing as Google Drive. If you area G Suite user, you can also take advantage of File Streaming. This lets organizations store files solely in the cloud, allowing laptop users to stream them to their local hard drives when working on them, otherwise keeping local storage free and unused.

If you’re interested in getting a jump on the required update to Google Drive, you can transition over to Backup and Sync now. All you have to do is install the software.

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iCloud and iCloud Drive Could Be Awesome!

If Apple gave the storage space away…

icloud-apple-logoI’ve recently been mucking around with my Mac and iCloud Drive and have come to a very logical conclusion – iCloud and iCloud Drive could be the service that corners the consumer cloud service market…but only if it gives the storage space away.

I’ve been using cloud storage services for a number of years. A few years ago, I wrote an article that was posted on Information Week; but has since been outdated and the post removed. I recreated it on my blog, iTechGear; and you can see all of the original post, here. Cloud-based storage was big in 2011. Its big now.

Dropbox still only offers you 2GB of free storage (don’t get me started on how far behind the times, that amount is…). However, if you want to upgrade to a full terabyte of storage, you can do that for $10 bucks a month. Google Drive offers a similar plan. Microsoft OneDrive offers unlimited storage to anyone with an Office 365 subscription.

That’s all well and good, but it isn’t as elegant and as integrated a solution as Apple’s iCloud. Their solution is integrated into the OS . Its integrated into all of their computers and devices; and… it totally blows, because it’s totally too expensive.

Here’s what’s killing me about it all…

Default Storage Size

data-storage
Only 5GB..? REALLY?! What, is this 2010, still?

Look, if you’re going to charge people for storage, then you have to do better than just 5GB as a starting point. The entire world seems to be moving people to a cloud based storage model. There are a number of different cloud storage options still around today, and when you only offer 5GB to start me off, then you are really looking for me to find someplace else to keep my stuff. When I have a 64GB iPhone, thinking that 5GB of free storage is going to be enough for me to back up a device, isn’t silly… its verging on stupid. There is NO WAY that 5GB is going to be enough, and Apple wants to charge a bit for its larger storage options.

While the next tier up is 20GB for only $0.99 per month (not bad for a paid tier; but still not enough when you have a 64GB, with you all the time, digital camera and internet communications device). Apple’s next paid step is 200GB for $10 per month. That same $10 per month can buy you 1TB of storage from Google Drive and UNLIMITED storage from Microsoft (and includes a “free” Office 365 subscription).

Fellow iBlogger Jonny Evans asks a GREAT question (and I’m paraphrasing, here…) – why doesn’t Apple give you at least 5GB of storage with every iDevice you buy and register with Apple and your iCloud account? It’s a GREAT question; but hold that thought for a moment…

Photos – You’re going to Break the iCloud Drive Bank
iphotoiconApple currently has OS X 10.10.3 in beta right now. That beta release has a beta version of Apple’s new iPhoto and Aperture replacement – Photos. The app uses iCloud and iCloud Drive to store photos by default. When you do that… and if you’ve got a large photo library, you’re going to max out your storage allotment before you can blink.

I think Apple is going to have a HUGE problem with the implementation and release of Photos to the general public. While most of what they sell are considered premium products, the entire world is working overtime to support the purchase of an iPhone and MacBook/iPad combination. Photos is a prime editing candidate for these folks, but without enough online storage, the whole effort is going to be a bust with each endpoint implementation.

That’s fancy IT talk for, “your average user won’t be able to make proper use of the app because they won’t have enough online storage.”

Money to Burn
Now, let’s get back to that Jonny Evans question… And, let’s face it – Apple has money to burn. They have over $173B USD in liquid cash as of this writing, and could perhaps buy most of Greece with that amount of cash (though, not all of it…they’d need at least $200B USD more…). With money on THAT scale, I am left wondering why they are charging their customers – owners of MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc. – any kind of fee AT ALL for iCloud or iCloud Drive storage.

I know that all iTunes purchases are automatically stored in iCloud; and that that storage is unlimited. You can pull content down or stream content to your iDevice any time you want; but if I had a dollar for every time my wife’s iPhone told me that it couldn’t back up the contents of the device automatically to iCloud because her account didn’t have enough storage, I’d be rich myself.

But, isn’t this the right thing to do? Giving away iCloud storage, I mean….

I mean, I know Apple’s products are enticing. As I said, nearly the entire world is trying to figure out how to score enough cash to purchase the iDevice of their choice; but wouldn’t free, unlimited cloud-based storage be exactly what the organization needs to provide to make them the slam-dunk, no brainer choice for everyone and for everything you do with a computer?

I know I’d be much more inclined to choose an Apple based solution if I was in the market for a computer, tablet or smartphone, if I knew that the purchase also got me access to unlimited, free cloud-based storage. Wouldn’t you..??

That’s the computing age I want to play in. That’s the kind of, “we’ve got money to burn, so let’s do something that benefits not only our shareholders, but all of our users as well,” action that gets you written down in the history books…and it would make iCloud and iCloud Drive a slam dunk, absolute no-brainer for absolutely everything you did online…and the simple thought of Apple doing this should make companies like Dropbox, Google and Microsoft quake in their boots.

What do you think?

Am I on the right track here? Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Would it create any anti-trust issues for Apple? If you weren’t an Apple user, would you want to switch to an Apple product to get access to unlimited cloud storage? Why don’t you chime in, in the discussion area below and let me know what you think? If you have a different or better idea, I’d love to hear about it!

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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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2013 Last Minute Holiday Buyer’s Guide – Part 1

These are some of the hottest gifts available now, and some really good advice on which to get and why.

image2993Over the past few years, I’ve put together a Holiday Buyer’s Guide. I never got to do one last year due to commitments to the now defunct Byte. Thankfully, I’ve got a chance to do it this year; and while nearly everything you see here will have some kind of software available for it from Soft32, I’m going to cover the hot categories – tablets, smartphones, computers and accessories.

What you’re going to see are recommendations only. I don’t have everything that I’m going to list, so these aren’t necessarily reviews and shouldn’t be considered as such. However, I will try to cover recommendations from as many major camps within a given category as I can.   For example, I’ll likely recommend a computer from the Windows as well as the Mac camp, a tablet from the Windows, iOS and/or Android camp, etc.

This is going to take a few days to get through, so please come back often to Soft32 Blog for updates to the series. I’m going to do my best to get the series completed as quickly as possible.   Let’s get things started right now with tablets.

Tablets – Lean Back Devices with Lean Forward Capabilities
I’ve been spewing a lot of information and commentary lately about how Lean Back and Lean Forward devices don’t mix and match well in the same device.   I’ve talked to a great many people about this particular point and feel comfortable saying this about combining the two efforts into a single device:

1.    Do you have a desktop or laptop and are adding a tablet to the mix?
From my point of view, this is the most likely use case. Here, it’s likely that you’ve got set work habits that you’re looking to break away from your work machine. A lean back device or tablet is a GREAT way to do that.     You get all the multimedia and gaming goodness without having to mix apples and oranges between work and personal machines.
2.    Is your smartphone your main computing device?
If this is the case, then you’d probably benefit a great deal from moving up to a tablet as your main computing device. You’ll get much the same experience and be able to use the same apps or tools if you stick to the same ecosystem as your smartphone. The multimedia and gaming experience on a tablet will be much better and you’ll still be able to do everything you’ve been doing on your phone – email, social networking, IM and texting, and web surfing.
3.    Are you adding a tablet to your work or recreation gear?
I have found in most cases that when you do this, you’re adding hardware here to fulfill a specific need. In the office, you likely want something that can get you access to the office network so you can check email and access work specific resources during or between meetings.   In my case, I wanted to use a Windows tablet as a digital notepad so I wouldn’t have to lug different or more than one notebook between to and from meetings.   For down time, I wanted to use an iPad to watch movies, TV shows or other video on a commuter train. My needs and use cases were specific. I have found that most business and/or power users use tablets in a similar fashion.

In the end, how you use a tablet – either lean back or lean forward or a combination of both – is totally up to you and the way you work or want to work.   Just be aware of your needs and then make the choice and selection that best fits those needs.

Android
There are so many different types of Android tablets from a number of different vendors, in a number of different form factors, configurations and price points. Regardless of your budget, you’ll likely be able to find something that will satisfy your computing style and needs in the Android camp.

While this is Android’s biggest advantage, it’s also its biggest problem. There’s TOO MUCH choice here, and it can be overwhelming.   My recommendation – if you don’t know what you want, go with a no-name brand and save some money.   This way, you get the tablet experience and get to try it out without investing more than $100 or so.   You can find a number of Android tablets at No More Rack or Rakuten (formerly Buy.com)   in the $100 price range.

If you already have a high end smartphone and there’s a tablet available by the same manufacturer, AND you can afford a matching high end tablet, I’d marry the two.   The important point here is that if you have an Android smartphone, to go with an Android tablet and vice-versa.   The big benefit here is insuring you can use the same software across both devices.

To that end,   if you’re going to go with a high-end tablet, my recommendation would be the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.   The Galaxy Note line – over the Galaxy Tab line – specializes in hand written notes and OCR. While it works great with any Bluetooth keyboard (as does the Galaxy Tab line), the Galaxy Note 10.1 is specifically designed to take handwritten notes, which for a high school or college student is perfect.   You can still draw, sketch and create on the fly graphics, but you’ll also have the ability to take notes and then convert your handwriting to text later on.

uk_GT-N8000EAABTU_004_Right_white

Like any Android tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1 will work very well with Google Apps, so you’ll have access to a full blown office suite of apps, provided you have the connectivity you need to get out to the internet. As I said, this tablet works well for students (both under grads and graduates) as well as business types (again, please keep your use habits in mind…) who might want to take this to meetings as a digital notepad.

Next Page

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Cloud Services Raining Problems – Google Drive & OS X Mavericks

mavericksWhat do Mavericks, Google Drive and Apple Support all have in common? Finder crashes…

Mavericks was made available to the public for free on 2013-10-22. It’s been one of the most successful OS X rollouts ever for Apple, in large part because of its many new features and also because its performance has been top notch. However, that doesn’t mean that all is right with the world.

I don’t really like the Finder Tabs implementation that Apple worked into Mavericks Finder. The “fold under” paradigm to the feature makes it very difficult to see what tabs are available in any particular Finder window. Safari uses the same paradigm and has the same problem, in my opinion.

In order to resolve this issue for me, I don’t use Finder Tabs and instead use Total Finder, an $18 Finder add-on that I was turned on to more than 18 months ago. Version 1.5.2 works best with Mavericks; but you have to watch. If something goes wrong with Finder, it’s probably the first place you should look and the first extension you should kill. If for some reason the extension does go south, it doesn’t auto restart, which is good and bad. Is good because you won’t get caught in some ugly, Finder crashing loop. If Total Finder force quits, Finder should come back, and you should be able to use your Mac “normally.” It’s bad, because if you want the features back after the force quit, you have to manually restart the extension.

I upgraded to Mavericks before the 2013-10-22 availability due to my Developer Program membership. I had the Gold Master before the public did, and it’s been a solid performer for well over a month. I’ve not had any issues with it, Total Finder, or any other application or extension I have installed on my Early 2011 MBP. So, when I started having Finder crashes yesterday morning and ALL yesterday evening, I kinda got worried.

I hadn’t installed any new Mac software. There were no changes to the system that I was aware of, so either something got corrupted, I had a virus or worm intrusion, or I had other problems. I have ClamX AV installed on my Mac, and I have not been getting any warnings from it. I’ve got its System Sentry running and scanning the root and subfolders on EVERY drive permanently attached to it, so I was relatively certain I didn’t have any weird bug.

After Mavericks reinstalled itself (a system update/rebuild of 10.9.0 was released after the GM was made available to Developer Program members and it automatically came down and its install was started), I hadn’t updated any other software. However, all day yesterday, I had Finder crash after Finder crash. Finder would auto restart, but it got to be so bad, that I couldn’t get any work done or even watch any video full screen. The looping Finder crashes took over my machine. I immediately started looking at Total Finder as the culprit. In the past, if my Mac developed Finder issues, it was likely behind them. However, Finder kept crashing over and over, and Total Finder had force closed after the first one. It wasn’t causing the issue.

finder_crash

I took a run over to Apple Support Forums after that. I found a couple of threads about Finder crashes and Mavericks, and a couple of possible solutions. The first one involved removing the com.Apple.Finder.plist file (my system actually had 3, which made me think I some Finder problems anyway…) from my ~Library\Preferences folder. Moderate success had been reported with that.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me. Finder continued to crash about once every 2-3 minutes.

The other solution I found was related to people who had Google Drive installed on their Mavericks system. To stop Finder crashes, you had to uncheck the option to display file sync status. That worked.

Shortly after I came to work, I got a notice from MacUpdate Desktop that a new version of Google Drive had been released. Unfortunately, release notes weren’t available at the time of release, and I can’t find anything online that tells me what changed. However, I plan to update Drive when I get home and will likely leave sync status icons disabled, even if they’re fixed. This isn’t the first time that Google Drive’s sync status icons have caused serious performance or stability issues on either Mac or Windows systems. The feature is a convenience, but not something I have to have turned on. As long as the content syncs and my menu bar icon says all is well, I’m happy.

The biggest problem here is that with the big push to get everything in the cloud, Google can’t afford to have Drive causing issues like this. They need to get a handle on it and kill the problem or else the service will be seen as unreliable, even with the work around.

 

Again, this is something that I’ll be monitoring, and if I have an update, I’ll make sure it gets on Soft32.com ASAP.

 

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Is the Internet REALLY Required?

internet-marketing-strategy-traffic1Its been an interesting weekend…without internet service. It really makes me wonder…is the Internet really required?

Its been an interesting weekend. Aside from being Independence Day weekend here in The States, its also my wife’s birthday. Our boys, wanted to buy mom a tree for the yard, and after we brought it home, it was my job to plant it.

Unfortunatey for me, my wife picked a location that was directly in between the cable CO and the connection with our house, and so… yeah. The buried cable got cut as I was digging the hole for the new tree. Comcast, my cable internet provider told me that they wouldn’t be able to come out to the house to repair the cut cable until Sunday.

During this time, however, we’ve had no connectivity outside of the internal network in the house. I can access my resources – my multiple NAS drives and game consoles – but nothing outside, like the internet or any other outside network.

Back in the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s, the internet wasn’t required to be part of your computing experience. Today, I’ve got Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Backblaze (an online backup program), Google Apps, as well as any other number of online services that I connect to and use every time I turn on my computer. Without them, computing seems really silly.

computer-internet-100128-02

Its amazing how much you depend on the online world to make your computing experience whole. Thankfully, my access is restored. Comcast came out and reran a cable from the CO to my house; and while I could have used my iPhone or Freedom Pop to provide a connection to the internet, there, you have to worry about how much you’ve used and how much you have left. With my cable connection, bandwidth is pretty much unlimited.

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Google Drive – A Foggy Cloud Experience

I’m in the middle of a love-hate relationship with Google Drive…

Google-DriveI’ve been living in the cloud for quite some time. I’ve had my Outlook contacts syncing with Plaxo since 2003 or so. I’ve also had accounts on Microsoft SkyDrive, Drop Box, and LiveDrive.  In some way, I’ve found all of these services wanting. But make no mistake, I’m very comfortable with my data in The Cloud. If you think about it, its very much like the dumb terminal-mainframe/mini computer model that everyone started using back in the 1970’s or so.

Most recently, I’ve switched to Google Drive; and there are some specific reasons for that. First and foremost, it works at the office.  The company I work at allows Google services through the firewall, and Google Drive works through Google’s standard Google Account authentication. None of the other client solutions I’ve used work the way they’re supposed to at the office. They’re all blocked.  Secondly, its nice to be able to have important files accessible on any the hard drive of connected machine, where and when I use them.

The biggest plus I have with the service is also the biggest problem I have – the client app. It keeps on crashing at the office.

The office PC runs Windows XP SP3; and while that’s hugely antiquated – its 3 major OS revisions (not releases) behind (Windows 7, Windows 7 SP1, and Windows 8) – it is what the organization trusts and is supporting as a whole throughout the enterprise.  I think Google Drives WinXP support is a bid dodgy. When Google Drive does crap out – and it errors out at LEAST once a day, if not more – I either get an error from Google Drive saying that its encountered an error and needs to close or Explorer itself crashes.

The first error is easy to recover from. All I have to do is restart Google Drive.  The second isn’t.  I have to wait for Windows to recover and then I have to bounce the PC.  If I don’t, I can’t access all of the previously running programs or System Tray extensions. The PC also becomes rather unstable.  This usually comes about because I’ve tried to browse to a deep, nested folder on my hard drive.

One of the things that I’ve learned to do is to quit the Google Drive client app before I browse my PC for files.  There’s no other way to prevent the app from erroring out.  Since the Windows 7 PC I have, doesn’t experience the problem, the only thing I can assume is that is related to the OS.  My Mac also doesn’t have client issues.

I’m not sure if Google plans on doing anything about it, but my gut tells me no. Unfortunately, that leaves me with a very foggy Cloud based experience with my data.  I just hope that the errors I know I’m going to bump into don’t damage my data.

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Google Kills off Google Apps Standard

Current users and domains won’t be effected, but the free version of Google Apps is gone.

Back in 2008 when Google introduced Google Apps, their online Office Suite, it came in two different versions.  Small businesses and those Gmail users that wanted to implement a custom mail domain (50 users or less) without having to set up a dedicated mail server or incurring any additional expense could use Google Apps Standard.  Larger groups (51 or more users) were required to pay a subscription fee and use Google Apps for Business.  Today, Google Apps Standard was discontinued.

Current users of Google Apps Standard won’t have to subscribe.  Google Apps Standard is still free for educational customers. New users will need to subscribe to Google Apps Premium.

I am a current Google Apps Standard user for my personal site, iTechGear.org. I rarely use any of the office suite apps. I use it mainly for Gmail and a customized email address (xxxxx@itechgear.org).  Users that want to use Google Apps for that, who are not educational customers, must now pay for Google Apps for Business.

Pricing for Google Apps for business can be seen here.  Basically, its $5 per user per month or $50 per user a year.  That includes 25GB of Gmail storage and 5GB of Google Drive Storage.  You can also use a customized email address if you wish.

For casual users like me, this would be a bit pricey. I wouldn’t choose this option if I had to do this now.  For small businesses and one to two man operations, this isn’t a good option, in my opinion. Thankfully, I’m grandfathered in…for now. This is likely not the end of this type of move by Google, either. There are a number of Google Standard users out there, and I think it’s only a matter of time before they get move to the Google Apps for Business realm and will be required to pay a subscription or lose their use of the service.

Time will tell, however; and until then, I’m glad I got in early.

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