Google Drive has gone through some pretty radical changes now. The recent changes enhance storage, functionality and integration with other Google services. Moreover, users can now find it easier to share and collaborate with others via a number of third-party apps that are directly integrated into Google Drive.
Despite the new enhancements, however, Google has failed to address a number of flaws that are still very noticeable. More damagingly, these flaws make it difficult to market Google Drive as a genuine alternative to the tried and tested MS Office tools or other comparable systems. Some of the problems are directly linked to Google’s philosophy of cloud computing but others betray a certain amount of immaturity in a system that is still in the process of evolving; only recently has Google developed a coherent approach to its products, unlike its other rivals such as Apple and Microsoft, which both have decades of experience.
For die-hard Google fans, who are dedicated to the idea of working within the Google ecosystem, these problems will not deter them from using the system. Nevertheless, they do prevent large number of non-Google fans from moving to Google. Some of the problems do have some simple solutions but they involve something most users of the digital age loathe: extra effort.
Google Drive: Pricing and storage
For a company that manages YouTube, Gmail and a variety of other amazing products, a standard 5GB free package for Google Drive is surprisingly below its own standards.
If you are a user in the market for small storage packages, then Google Drive just is not the best option. Microsoft’s SkyDrive, offers 25GB worth of free storage and is by far the best option. However, keep in mind that for extra-large storage packages, Google is still the best, if not, the only option; it is the only one offering packages ranging from 1TB to 16 TB.
For those who want to use Google Drive but don’t think it’s worth paying for the extra space, the only option is to manage your Hard Drive and Google Drive files separately in a manner that helps you stay well within the 5GB limit. Unfortunately, this means users have to constantly add/remove files on Google Drive. On the plus side, this could count as an incentive to stay organized.
Fortunately, there is a good chance that this problem will be addressed sooner rather than later as the company moves to compete in a market where the price of storage is rapidly declining.
Google Drive: File Types & Hosting
Google Drive does not allow users to permalink files and share with across the web. I wouldn’t expect this to change either because the company is trying to promote its ecosystem and obviously thinks it has enough market power and appeal to convince users to join them wholesale. Another problem is that despite the fact that Google allows users to store and view more than 30 different file types, including HD video, bizarrely it doesn’t allow users to listen to audio files (audio files can be stored but must downloaded again to be played). I think this could be probably because Google is trying to market its Google Play Music app, so don’t expect anything to change here either. For those of us who do a lot of research that may involve voice recordings and other audio material, this is a real pain.
Google Drive: Apps for Smartphones & Tablets
Google Drive also features apps for Android and iOS. The Google Drive app allows users to access and edit their files on their mobile devices but it lacks some of the core features available on the PC. Moreover, Google Drive works best only with certain platforms, which in turn limits the appeal of the app. The only alternative is to use the phone’s web browser to access the files but even this is not guaranteed. Browsers of older Android prevent users from using Google Drive effectively or entirely.
Obviously, while Google intends to make its products appealing to the widest possible audience, it is still trying to promote its own ecosystem. Therefore, users of Android phones (and the necessary Gmail accounts) and Chrome browsers, get the best deal. Users, who use other platforms, always get a subtle hint emphasising the value of the ecosystem.
Another problem with the Google Drive app is users cannot simply drop files into it like they can on a computer. Also, uploading is severely limited: it only allows you to upload pictures, soundtracks and voice recordings. This goes to show that the Google Drive app is currently designed to complement work on a computer. However, the sheer performance of the latest range of smartphones and tablets should spur Google to redesign the app into something similar to the PC version. This is not going to happen anytime soon because an app that advanced is going to need a lot of processing power, which most low-end Android phones do not possess.
Google Drive: Security
Everyone handling sensitive data, from government spooks to human rights activists, should think twice about saving their data on Google Drive. This is because Google Drive, like Sky Drive but unlike Dropbox, does not encrypt the files stored on its servers. Google is not going to introduce encryption any time soon because encrypting files prevents Google’s OCR engine from scanning files. The only way around this is to encrypt the files before uploading them to Google Drive. Users can use third-party programs like TrueCrypt to get the job done. However, it is a lot of work.
There is no reason for the vast majority of users to get paranoid over this. Unless you are working on extremely sensitive data, there is very little chance that anyone is going to devote money and time to hack into Google’s servers and steal all your information. However, it is depressing to know that not even the best prepared tech giants are not entirely safe all the time. Even military establishments and the US government have fallen victim to hackers every now and then.
Your Thoughts on Google Drive
Are there any other problems with Google Drive that you don’t think is going to be addressed any time soon? Let us know…