Google Drive: The Cloud Backup I want to see

Summary:A Google Drive shouldn't just be a Dropbox competitor. It needs to have value-added services for transparent Cloud-based data backup as well.

Within a matter of weeks or perhaps even days, Google is going to be announcing its Google Drive service, a Cloud-based offering that has been in several years in the making.

Google Drive also comes at a time where several competitors have filled a void which the company has failed to address, despite the clamoring of its users.

Over the years I've talked a bit about what I would have liked to have seen in an actual Google Drive. DropboxBox.com, Amazon Cloud Drive/S3, Microsoft Skydrive and to a limited extent Apple's own iCloud have the basic storage capacity issues addressed, but none of these really do what you want them to do without the addition of 3rd-party software.

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Based on the limited information we have today, Google Drive will launch with 5GB of free cloud-based storage. We don't know how much additional storage will cost, and what platforms it will likely support beyond Windows and Android, and what other functionality it will have beyond basic cloud storage.

Personally, I don't see a huge amount of value-add if all Google Drive ends up being is a DropBox or Box.com clone. What end-users really need is an end-to end storage and backup solution that works on as many platforms as possible and ties in all of Google's cloud services.

Ideally, I would like to see Google Drive combined with an incremental sync-based backup service. So whether you have files stored on your PC, your Mac or your Android device (and potentially iOS, should Apple approve such a thing) your data gets backed up, and you have completely transparent access to everything that has been backed up from those devices to the cloud from any authorized device that you need to access it from.

And the data should be fully searchable, whether it is from within an app or the Chrome browser.

You should simply be able to choose what folders or apps on your computer or mobile device get synced. Even better, it should be able to integrate with existing applications, such as Microsoft Office and LibreOffice, so that when certain types of data gets saved to your local hard disk, such as productivity office formats (.DOC, .XLS, .PPT, .ODF, .PDF, etc.) it automatically gets replicated to your Google Drive.

Ideally, there should also be revision tracking in the event you over-wrote something important by accident. And anything that gets synced to this Google Drive naturally should undergo a thorough virus and malware scan, with instantaneous reporting to the account holder if something is amiss and would give them the ability to quarantine, clean or destroy the files in question.

What we're talking about here is not just an online hard drive -- it's business continuity for humans.

I think it also would make sense for Google to streamline the pricing and the way storage works in their Cloud. Today, my free GMail account has nearly 8GB of storage assigned to it and is over 90 percent full. My Google Docs has separate storage, as does Picasa Web Albums.

What I would like to see is Google offer a unified cloud storage offering with Google Drive.

[Update: Google currently offers unified storage across Gmail, Picasa Web Albums, and Google Docs at different tiering price levels. 200GB is currently $50 per year, so it would be logical to assume this pricing would apply for Google Drive as well.]

This unified storage could be used across all Google services, and would allow me to monitor my usage of all of these. So whether I was backing up files from my PC and my Mac, or from the local storage on my Android device, or even my wife's laptop or Android device, it would all be consolidated.

You'd have one master account owner, and then permit other Google accounts to use it, with the appropriate quotas set per family member. This way, one family could pay $50 a year for their critical storage needs, and everyone in the household (say, a limit of half a dozen unique Google logins and perhaps a dozen devices) would be backed up.

Additionally, the master account holder should be able to delegate any sharing of data from that Google Drive via email (a la Google Docs) and it should be integrated with services such as Google Plus.

What else do you think a Google Drive should offer? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Storage, Data Management, Google

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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