Google Drive, get to the attention services like Dropbox and iCloud, seems to just sit out in the wings but looked at a backup service.
About 6 months ago I started looking for a backup service. Not just any old cloud storage service: one of them could be the weekly backups of my massive desktop PC, holding a decade of photos, documents, videos, and even more exotic.
I settled on Google Drive, AKA the new "Google One," as it's sometimes branded for consumers. After trying out the general consumer tiers from Dropbox, Box.com, Microsoft's OneDrive, and a handful of others.
I think I'm not the only one in this situation, and others would benefit from some head-to-head comparison of paid options.
Easy File Management
When you install Google Drive's desktop component, blandly titled "Backup and Sync from Google," it's all pretty straightforward. Log into the service, pick a primary folder location on your drive, and start downloading things from the cloud as the initial sync begins.
See this file? It's an obvious feature … but it's actually very rare, as these backup services go. Dropbox does not do it: everything you want to put on Dropbox's cloud drive has to be in its specific folder. Microsoft OneDrive, Box.com, and Apple's iCloud do not do it: ditto.
That's a problem for me, since I use a speedy SSD for my desktop's primary storage drive and a massive, cheap hard drive for backups and other space-hogging files. Google Drive allows me to keep a "primary" folder of synced cloud items on the desktop-a sort of quick "pocket" for frequently used files that I often access from multiple devices-while syncing my gigantic backup folder to the cloud.
I tried, I have to move my entire cloud folder to the big, slow hard drive (not ideal for frequently used Photoshop templates), or sync files back and forth between the drives. That puts one more moving part in my setup, between my backup program (Cobian 11) and the cloud storage service itself. Boxing or Microsoft Syncty … at one point managed to make a recursive backup that keeps backing up my SSD over and over again. iCloud and OneDrive offer desktop and document folder syncing, but can not add any other external folders or drives.
Google Drive makes it simple.
Excellent Web Tools
Dropbox's paid tiers, trying to handle over 400 GB of data in a single backed -up folder. At one point I made a backup in Cobian Backup-a freeware backup application I was using Dropbox-and I would like to get a backup of my home connection ,
Days later, the C drive folder is still taking up space in my Dropbox account, despite the fact that it has gone away from the local machine. I could go to Dropbox's web interface and try to delete it … but it turns out to be over 30,000 files in it on the web. For some reason. It has to be done via the desktop. Where the folder was … not there anymore.
Okay. So I went to a second machine, the How-To Geek testing desktop, and installed the Dropbox Windows client. Hoping the change would sync back to the server. Nothing.
I tried this trick a few times, on different Windows machines both real and virtual. None of it worked. In frustration, I reached out to Dropbox's support, and they said it would take time for the change to sync and get to that space. "It'll be done by Friday!" The support guy said, on Wednesday. On Saturday I was talking to you, telling you to just delete my whole account and let me start if they could not get rid of that pesky folder.
Google Drive, where you can log in on the web and access all files in your primary folder, all of your web-based documents in google docs, and all of the files you've backed up outside of that main desktop folder. You can download, or delete, any file or folder at any time. Even when I've deleted 400 GB of directories, it's never taken more than an hour or two for Google's remote system to reflect that change. It puts dropbox to shame.
Google recently changed its pricing model under the "Google One" brand. (Yes, that's an awful name.) We're elaborate in a moment. At the $ 10 a month budget I've got a very generous two terabytes of storage. At the $ 10 level for consumers, Dropbox and Apple iCloud offered one terabyte, Box has 100GB for $ 5 or "unlimited" for $ 15 (with a 5GB file limit that does not work for a full desktop backup). Microsoft OneDrive is the only major competitor that beats them at $ 10 a month, with 6 TB of storage for six users … but a maximum of just one terabyte each.
So, Google is a pretty clear leader in terms of price. There are other, Google's tools or service integration.
But wait, pause. That's the reason why you have to deal with Gmail, all of your Google Docs files, and Google Photos, too for effect, there's more. Google's One storage plan can be shared with other users for free, on an unlimited number of computers and mobile devices. The pooled storage does not have the compartmentalized limitations of OneDrive. Paying for a premium plan so grants you 24-7 access to live support, over chat, email or (wonder of wonders!) A phone line. A Few Downsides
One of the reasons I tried so hard to get Dropbox to work for my setup, despite it offering less storage on my budget and making it through my hoops to get my folders in order, is speed. 90-95% of my available upload speed, when I let it do so.
Google Drive is not fast. When it's syncing it's using 50-60% of my upload capacity, even if it's not upload limit is set in the desktop program. I suspect this is because I made Cobian to create big ZIP files instead of a simple mirror setup, it went much faster. But because of the backup program works, this would be to make another complete upload of my C drive backup folder every week.
Google Drive's mobile apps are not as good as Dropbox, and I'm keeping a Dropbox account active for just that reason. When I take a photo on my phone and I'm on my home's Wi-Fi, the Dropbox app is smart enough to sync the file directly to my computer at the same time it's uploading to the cloud PC almost instantaneously. Google Drive has to upload to Google, which can take several minutes. It puts a real lurch in my workflow.
And I'd be remiss if I did not address the fact that Google Drive is, well, Google. While the company uses 256-bit SSL / TLS encryption, privacy advocates are probably still using most of the web services.
But for my setup, and the peace of mind I crave years and years of work files backup both locally and remotely, I'm willing to overlook that-and for the ease of use and price.