Google’s much-rumored Drive service just went live, offering users 5GB of cloud-based storage for free. If you need a little more, the company makes upgrading exceptionally cheap: 25GB is just $2.49 a month.
Some enthusiasts are already claiming that the company’s offering won’t be able to compete with well-established competitors such as Dropbox. They might be wrong, however, thanks to Drive’s tight integrated with Google’s pre-existing products, like Google Docs and Picasa (unlike these two, GMail’s storage is kept distinct from Google Drive; despite this, basic GMail users who opt for the 25GB/month plan will also see their GMail storage grow to match).
With the massive bank of storage available, Google can also compete on price, such that Dropbox’s current plans can’t match. For free, users start at 5GB. For $2.49 a month, you get 25GB, while 100GB is $4.99 per month. Dropbox’s largest consumer account tops at at 100GB (though you can increase it to 132GB through referral credits) and costs $199 annually.
It is curious that Google decided to launch Drive now, unrelated to any sort of event or other product launch. Two things may have forced their hand. One, a Google blog in France published Drive’s details earlier yesterday; despite being quickly removed, the post was copied and translated around the world.
The second, likelier force was Microsoft. Redmond made massive changes to its own cloud-based offering, known as Skydrive. It used to offer 25GB of storage for free; that has been changed to just 7GB (which is still more than what Google offers, and pre-existing Skydrive users can sign up to keep their 25GB free accounts permanently), but upgrade paths have been introduced.
Cloud Storage Pricing Comparisons:
- 5GB – free
- +25GB – $2.49 per month
- +100GB – $4.99 per month
- +200GB – $9.99 per month
- +400GB – $19.99 per month
- +1TB (1000GB) – $49.99 per month
- +2TB – $99.99 per month
- +4TB – $199.99 per month
- +8TB – $399.99 per month
- +16TB – $799.99 per month
*The pricing for Google Apps that was here previously was incorrect. New GApps pricing is the same for Google Drive.
Skydrive from Microsoft:
- 7GB – free (25GB free for pre-existing users)
- +20GB – $10 per year
- +50GB – $25 per year
- +100GB – $50 per year
- 2GB (plus 500MB/referral up to 18GB) – free
- 50GB (plus 1GB/referral up to 82GB) – $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year
- 100GB (plus 1GB/referral up to 132GB) – $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year
- 1TB (plus access to a total of five users) – $795 per year, with extra users+200GB costing $125 per year, each
- 5GB – free
- 25GB – $9.99 per month
- 50GB – $19.99 per month
- 1TB – $15 per user per month (minimum of 3 users required)
Currently, most of the above services offer Android, iOS, and/or Windows Phone apps (Skydrive). Many also offer desktop-based support for Windows, OS X, or Linux (Dropbox). All offer browser-based access to your files.
On pricing alone, it would appear that Microsoft’s Skydrive wins out. Do you absolutely need a Linux desktop client? Dropbox might be more style, while if you have a small company, you might look into Box.net or Google Drive.
Regardless of who shakes out, it seems like cloud storage is getting cheaper and cheaper. In today’s world of 1080p, however, few of these services are affordable enough to back up your HD videos or high-resolution pictures; we can see local storage reigning supreme for some time to come.