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Google Drive

Google drive offers a simple way to store a lot of files for very little money. This is not a real backup system, as you cannot set it to backup certain files at certain times, but it is online storage that can be very useful. Once you install the application on your computer or phone or tablet (Google has applications for Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, Iphone and "coming soon" Ipad), you get a little icon for your desktop. Just drag files to it and they get uploaded. If you also have a tablet, notebook, phone etc. you can then install the application on that device and access those online files. If you are not connected online, then everything becomes quite fragile and unworkable, so assume this is for online access only.

Google has a nice introduction here. A fuller explanation is here.

What is it good for?

This is a great way to store a copy of files on your computer and be able to access them from other devices. If you take lots of family pictures, this will give you a way to share and store a backup copy of your pictures. You can go online to your Google Drive and mark any file for sharing. Then you can send an email notice to those you want to share it with. This makes it great for family pictures and vacation photos. It also provides a way to transfer large files without using an email attachment. Just upload the file and then share with the person who should receive it.

It can also be used for online collaboration. You can share a file and give the other person(s) the ability to edit the file. Then when they edit it, the edits will appear for you as well.

What does it cost?

Google gives you 5 GB free. They charge $30/yr for 25 GB and $60/yr for 100 GB.

What about Security?

Files will upload and download securely, so they will not be accessible in transit. If you have a good password for your Google Account and you do not use it elsewhere, and you keep your computer up to date and protect your password, and you don't enter your password on insecure places, then you will have moderate protection. Of course, if a hacker breaks into Google or an employee gets curious, or some government employee becomes interested in you, then the files will be accessible.

A lot of noise came about a couple months ago as Google's Privacy policy seemed to give them complete access and ownership of all your files. They have vehemently denied this and made it clear that you own your files, so this is not an issue. I would not put client data on Google drive, or any data that needed to be secure. I will not upload my plans to break into Fort Knox. However, I have no problem uploading anything that would not worry me if shared, so perhaps some of your vacation photos should not be uploaded here!

Date: June 2012

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