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Google Cloud Data Storage Technology

Google Drive Goes Live 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day-another-cloud-thing dept.
lemmen writes "As widely expected, Google Drive has launched officially today. Google Drive is free for the first 5GB, while you can get an upgrade to 25GB for $2.50 a month. They say the service is available for PCs, Macs, Android devices, and soon iOS devices. According to Mercury News, '... the success of Drive will ride largely on whether Google can differentiate its offering from already established fast-growing cloud storage startups that were in the market first, such as Dropbox and Box, as well as Microsoft's SkyDrive service and big consumer media competitors like Apple's iCloud and Amazon's Cloud Drive. ... Existing Google Docs files, the centerpiece of Google's existing cloud storage offering, will move to the Google Drive service once users download apps and install the new service."
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Google Drive Goes Live

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:42PM (#39784505)

    Access requires a proprietary client.

    Where are open, standard protocols which don't require unvetted Google software to be trusted with power over our computers?

    • by schitso (2541028) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:42PM (#39784525)
      You mean like the ones used by Dropbox, SugarSync, and Box?

      Oh wait...
      • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gmail . c om> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:44PM (#39784547) Homepage
        Don't forget SkyDrive. Even MS, who knows Windows inside and out, install a special client and just sync files back and forth like everyone else does.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          They all seem to include drive, box or cloud. Which one will be next? DriveBoxCloud? BoxCloudDrive? CloudDriveBox?
        • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:09PM (#39784967)

          Don't forget SkyDrive. Even MS, who knows Windows inside and out, install a special client and just sync files back and forth like everyone else does.

          If you were to use a virtual filesystem driver or a filesystem filter and stream it directly, you need admin rights to install and you have a very different security profile (because the driver would need to be able to sync from multiple Live accounts across all the profiles on the workstation).

          Is it possible to do direct streaming/caching as a mounted drive/directory? Absolutely. I wrote one a few years ago that would attach a WebDAV share onto the system. That's basically how all the various app streaming products work. But its a lousy model for a light-weight consumer system.

          • I'm wondering if there is a way to easily set up TrueCrypt for the google disk...across multiple machines?

            Thinking that would be a convenient way to use the 'free' space, yet keep it from Google's prying eyes....

            • by Binestar (28861) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:04PM (#39786865) Homepage
              Convenient and encryption doesn't seem to go well together. The closest I have found for windows and these cloud devices is AxCrypt, which lets you encrypt and password protect each individual file you store.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Try BoxCryptor. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/encrypt-dropbox-files-boxcryptor/. Install it on each machine. It creates a Drive that acts as a front end to the cloud drive and encrypts/decrypts on the fly. I saw it here a couple of weeks ago for some other article. I would post on my other account, but I am modding too. I want to help, but not strip the modded posts. :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Even MS

          "Even MS", as in "even MS are using a proprietary client and a non-standardized protocol"? o_O

        • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:50PM (#39785659)

          Microsoft would be sued from here to the moon and back if they included this sort of sync within Windows, bound to their servers.

          Oh, and also ripped to shit on here.

          • That's precisely what they're planning to do.

            http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/02/20/connecting-your-apps_2c00_-files_2c00_-pcs-and-devices-to-the-cloud-with-skydrive-and-windows-8.aspx
        • by bkaul01 (619795)
          True, though it has long been possible with SkyDrive in Windows to simply map a network drive (open a SkyDrive file in Office on your computer, then choose save-as to get the URL for the file share) and use offline files to sync. Essentially that's all the new client does, just without any manual hacking required.
        • SkyDrive REST apis (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          SkyDrive has a bunch of REST apis you can use that don't require installing any client software: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/live/hh243648.aspx

        • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @06:10PM (#39789019) Journal

          SkyDrive is actually WebDAV, it's just not really advertized as such. But you can see it when you enable SkyDrive integration in MS Office and look at the file paths in file open/save dialogs.

          Anyway, if you want a cloud disk service with open, documented protocol and the ability to mount it as a regular disk drive in pretty much any OS, that would be Jungle Disk [jungledisk.com] (they even have a FUSE provider!).

    • by yog (19073) * on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:54PM (#39784709) Homepage Journal

      It's free, and it's Google. I would trust Google to be around for a while, to charge decent prices and provide useful tools to access the drive, and also I believe them when they say no human will see my stuff. Some other companies, such as Facebook, I don't trust nearly as much, because they seem to lack Google's commitment to be a trustworthy arbitrator of data.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705)

        and also I believe them when they say no human will see my stuff

        I'm increasingly unsure of that. We know they scrape the contents of your emails to decide what ads to show you. We know they keep track of your browsing history as much as they can, and aggregate it across sites.

        I'm just not convinced they wouldn't be peeking inside.

        Then again, the only stuff I'm going to keep in the cloud is just temporary personal with no real need to have a whole lot of privacy. Anything work related, I simply won't put

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        You trust google not to access your files? Really? http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2369188,00.asp [pcmag.com]

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:15PM (#39785075) Journal
      The problem goes deeper than that: Unless you go with encryption-on-client(ideally handled by a dedicated security processor, so that the key is never available to the potentially untrustworthy uploader-agent), which is comparatively rare because it breaks handy features like 'access from the web' and deduplication, the cloud storage provider gets to paw through your files by design.

      Now, I do have to wonder why Google used a proprietary client(given their history of, for instance, OSSing their updater widget in order to calm people's fears about what it might be up to) when your data will be showing up on their servers in short order anyway, and file transfer over the internet isn't exactly an area of cutting-edge research.(Hi rysnc, how's it going?). One would think that an OSSed client would provide minimal competitive advantage to others, while helping to alleviate the 'our google overlords creep me out' response.

      More generally, though, there really isn't a 'clientless'(ie. client is installed by default) option at present. The browser-based upload widgets are hacky as hell and often flake out on larger files, the java/activeX ones are incrementally more reliable but far more demanding and dodgy. FTP is horribly insecure and crotchety, SFTP causes barely a ripple outside a few geek circles. WebDAV seems to have gone nowhere for something like two decades now, some sort of NFS/SMB over VPN is ugly and wouldn't play nicely with many setups... A FUSE based FS would be nice for team linux; but arguably counts as a 'client' and doesn't help the majority of the market much...

      I'd certainly trust an OSS client over a closed one; but it's hard to hold the need for a client of some kind against them at the moment.
      • by Z8 (1602647)
        You could use a client-side program with encryption that's designed to work with untrusted servers. A simple OSS example is duplicity [nongnu.org]; it supports backends like WebDAV and Amazon S3.
    • by Marillion (33728) <ericbardes@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:29PM (#39785297)
      Until someone writes an FOSS tool based upon https://developers.google.com/drive/v1/reference/ [google.com] The really ambitious ones could write a FUSE layer on top of it.
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:42PM (#39784513)

    My resume, my tax returns, purchased books..... just in case the house burns down & eats my USB backup drive.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:49PM (#39784625)

      Don't forget to encrypt all this before sending it to "the cloud"

      • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:30PM (#39786361) Homepage Journal

        Don't forget to encrypt all this before sending it to "the cloud"

        There is a cost to doing that: Google Drive's search features won't work for you. I have thousands of files in mine (I work for Google and have been using it for a few months, with a very generous storage limit, so I've got lots in there), and although you can organize things in hierarchical directories, the search features are the way I find the stuff I want 99% of the time. What makes it really nice is that it indexes everything -- it can parse virtually any file format, and even uses the Google Goggles technology to extract textual descriptions of objects in images, and I think it also does OCR on images as well.

        Of course, if you're more worried about Google extracting information from your files than about your ability to find them, then this aggressive search indexing is stronger motivation to encrypt. If you just want to be able to find your stuff easily, from anywhere, it rocks, and encrypting will break it.

        • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:32PM (#39787239)

          There is a cost to doing that: Google Drive's search features won't work for you...and although you can organize things in hierarchical directories, the search features are the way I find the stuff I want 99% of the time.

          I've been seeing both Windows and Mac moving in the direction of trying to abstract me from the location where files are saved in favor of searching for them. I've never understood that use model. I don't mind that other people would find their files that way, but I've never had to search for a file in my life. I just save them in logical places and they're always where I expect them to be. It's most certainly not what I want to do 99% of the time.

          It must be a result of working with a computer back when indexing every single file in your box would have been an insane waste of storage space, the indexing process would have taken an insane amount of time during which my computer would have been unusable because I'd only have a single core, and the search through the index would still be slow enough that it'd be faster to navigate to the file. In those days, we wore an onion in our belts, because that was the style at the time...

    • Which is why I rather back it up on something more secure like rsync.net and not give it to someone who wants to scan all my data in order to help themselves target me better with advertising.
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:46PM (#39784591)

    Versions count against your storage, trash counts against your storage, Google Docs files do not, shared files do not.

    No right-click menu in the desktop client, so no grabbing public links etc.

    No ability to name the Google Drive folder, only choose its location (the same as dropbox, but a lot of people were hoping for "pick any folder anywhere").

    Speed is a bit faster.

    Storage prices a lot cheaper ($9.99/month for 200GB vs $9.99 for 50GB on Dropbox).

    There is offline access to Google Docs stuff, not tried that yet.

    The Windows client is very very very similar to an old Dropbox version - even down to "Selective Sync" within the Google Drive folder.

    Android and iOS apps - no Blackberry app yet.

    All in all, I haven't come to a conclusion yet - better in some aspects, worse in others. I think a lot of people were expecting a lot more from Google Drive than this offering.

    • I was only hoping for SFTP access, from there I'd put a big TrueCrypt container on the drive and not worry about the other problems.

    • by yog (19073) * on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:03PM (#39784869) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps when viewed in isolation, Drive is not that much better than DropBox, but when you add in other Google services such as music.google.com, Google wins. I have 60 gigs of music stored on music.google.com, at zero cost, and I think I can upload about 9,000 more files before I hit the free limit.

      Google Picasa allows unlimited storage for images of up to 2048 x 2048 pixels and videos up to 15 minutes. I've only put a few things on Picasa as yet, but I suspect that almost all of my 254 gigs of images and video clips will qualify as free storage at Picasa.

      And, of course, as you point out, Google Docs files don't count toward storage, so if you allow them to convert your Word/OO/Libre files over to Docs format, you're all set.

      I suspect that for a lot of people, the free 5 gigs in combination with Google's Music and Picasa services will just about cover everything.

    • by DdJ (10790)

      There is offline access to Google Docs stuff, not tried that yet.

      No, there isn't. Not really. They make it look like there is, but there isn't.

      What syncs down for these files is just a wrapper containing a URL and some metadata. Double-click on one and you're in the web interface, editing the file online.

      Want to prove it to yourself? Then use command-line tools ("cat" on MacOS or "type" on Windows) to dump the contents of the file.

      I'm very disappointed.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Versions count against your storage, trash counts against your storage, Google Docs files do not, shared files do not.

      So I can share my 10GB truecrypt file without it counting against any storage limit?

      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        1) Create sockpuppet 2nd google account.

        2) ???

        3) Profit!

        They probably mean files you're invited to, not files you're hosting on your account; this is different from Dropbox, where if someone uploads a file and shares it with 10 people, everyone who accepts the invitation gets that file counted against their quota until they unshare.

    • by Qwavel (733416)

      GDrive has an issue with complexity here - they have to map their existing Google Docs service to Windows & Mac file-systems. Dropbox doesn't have that problem so their service is likely to always be easier to use and understand.

      Google is generally great at engineering but pretty bad at making things simple, consistent, and understandable, and this is no exception.

      For example, about a year ago Google renamed the organizational labels of Google Docs to collections. I was surprised that they would do th

    • > I think a lot of people were expecting a lot more from Google Drive than this offering.

      The reason DropBox won over the existing services (there were many) was simplicity. It's a folder that syncs. That's all people want. More features, more complexity: Microsoft has tried it. Dropbox ate their lunch.

      Google is offering a folder that syncs, at a lower price on an ID management platform many people already use. Seems likely to work.

    • Versions count against your storage, trash counts against your storage, Google Docs files do not, shared files do not.

      No right-click menu in the desktop client, so no grabbing public links etc.

      I installed SkyDrive yesterday because of the recent update and the recent free 25 GB upgrade, but it also lacks the right click functionality in the desktop client so I'm on the verge of just going back to Dropbox. Based on what people such as yourself are saying about Google Drive, it looks like it's even slightly worse than SkyDrive. I wonder whether Google and MS are avoiding the right click public link feature because of a Dropbox patent or whether neither company believes it's useful.

    • No linux client (Score:5, Informative)

      by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:32PM (#39785357)

      Dropbox has one, Google Drive doesn't. That's a killer for me.

  • by Simulant (528590) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:49PM (#39784623) Journal

    Yet again.
    • by robmv (855035)

      Wrong, I have it and it works (at least the Android client and web interface, I don't use Windows or Mac), enable doc in the control panel or request it to the domain admin, it is the same Google Docs permission

  • Yes, I want to upload my financial information, work history, scans of legal documents, and anything else personal from my hard drive and have it spidered by Google. I'm sure they can be trusted. They've been so respectful so far of people's privacy.

    • by readandburn (825014) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:58PM (#39784781)
      Wouldn't you encrypt your files before uploading them? I would.
    • 1. Don't use Google Drive. Who's forcing you to?
      2. Why not go with Dropbox? Oh, right, they can do the same crawling through your data.
      3. Finally, uhm.. Thought about encrypting with TrueCrypt and uploading the entire encrypted file?

      Ahh, but why think proactively about security on a free service but useful service when it's much easier to complain and bitch.
    • by ledow (319597)

      And if you're really that bothered - bugger off and buy a cheap VPS with loads of disk space and roll your own. It takes literally MINUTES to set up with something like FTP or WebDAV and SSH/SSL.

      And you can even do full encryption on that storage if you don't even trust your host.

      Or you could accept that Google are putting out a product for consumers, not hard-core-tech-geeks that want the ultimate in everything for free.

    • by Reapman (740286)

      Why would you trust ANY 3rd party host for storing this unencrypted?

    • In theory, you can sync a TrueCrypt vault.

      Anyone tried this yet? Works ok on Dropbox, although the initial upload is a beast (file of noise the size of your storage volume). Afterwards, I think it's only syncing the parts that change. Remote access requires downloading the whole file again.

  • Porn? (Score:3, Funny)

    by BenoitRen (998927) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @12:58PM (#39784789)

    Does this allow the storage of porn? :)

  • by weeble (50918) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:07PM (#39784931) Homepage

    Google as ever uses reverse IP lookup rather than browser preferences to set the language (language preferences only work once you log in and often even not when logged in). They assume people do not travel and everyone within a particular geographical area will only speak the dominant language.

  • by edmicman (830206) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @01:45PM (#39785561) Homepage Journal

    After reading a few articles, here's what I still want to know:

    If you want to pay for the service, can you opt for a year-long contract or something? It seems like a reasonable price, but I'd rather not have yet another monthly charge.

    How does the space work compared with whatever allocated space your other Google services have? Right now I've got some amount of Gmail space, some amount of Picasa space, unlimited (?) Google+ space for images and videos (which still show up in Picasa web but don't apply to the quota?), and then the Google Docs space. Will there be any consolidation of this? Do I want there to be?

    Will we be able to use the GDrive app on my phone to store something like a keepass password file (encrypted) and access it from multiple devices? I can do that with Dropbox right now.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:47PM (#39787475) Journal

    Do any of the cloud storage services come with a UDP file transfer system?

    Trying to move video files with TCP is silly.

    • by jschottm (317343)

      Trying to move video files with TCP is silly.

      No, TCP is the protocol to use if you're moving video because you want to do an accurate transmission of the data and adding error checking to UDP is silly when there's a protocol that does it out of the box.

      If you're talking on-demand playback, you might have a point, but the majority of the users out there have UDP port filtered and possibly firewalled and it's easier to just send data to TCP port 80 than deal with firewall issues.

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