Cloud storage is a popular topic at the moment with online storage options coming from, among others, Apple, Microsoft, DropBox, Samsung and Amazon. This week a new option arrived on the scene, Google Drive. If you sign in with your Google account you can request notification when your Drive is ready to use.
Google will be hoping to compete with the main rivals in this area, such as Dropbox, Box.net, Apple iCloud and Microsoft SkyDrive. Google Drive provides most of the standard functions you would expect from an online storage provider, you can create items and make them available for collaboration, store your data "safely" and access it from anywhere and search functionality is available such as keyword searching and filtering by owner, type etc. Google are also using Image recognition so that searching for a place using text would hopefully produce any pictures you have of that particular place, although Google stress that this is in it's early stages of development, so I wouldn't expect it to be too accurate. Google also use Optical Character Recognition to allow for searching for text in scanned documents. One benefit of online storage is the ability to share the files with friends or colleagues by emailing the link rather than sending the file, especially useful when sharing video or large graphics.
There is a Drive App available for Android and they are also working on an IOS version for all the Apple iPhone and iPad fans. When you join the service you receive 5GB of free online storage, if you require more storage then you can pay as follows:- 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB
5GB Free is comparable to Box.net and Apple iCloud but Dropbox only offer 2GB free. I have been using Microsoft Skydrive where you were given a whopping 25GB free storage but Microsoft have just announced that they are cutting the free storage down to 7GB, which according to Microsoft will be enough space for "99.94%" of it's SkyDrive customers. I have also been using iCloud and I am impressed with the synchronisation but find the inability to upload files outside of an App a bit frustrating.
According to reports another competitor will arrive in May 2012, sCloud will be the solution for online storage from Samsung, rumours are that the standard 5GB will be free and that you will be able to upload files directly. At this rate you will be able to get 100's of GB of space online for free if you need it, as long as you don't mind storing your files across multiple providers.