After years of rumors, whispers and supposed false starts -- and a week of anticipatory service upgrades from competitors like Dropbox and SkyDrive -- Google Drive is finally here. Yep, Google's getting into the increasingly crowded cloud storage game and it's bringing wallet-friendly price points and a bevy of features swiped from Google Docs and others.
Watch the video above to get the basic details, then wander over here to claim your own 5GB of free cloud storage space. Upgrade options range from $2.50/mo for a 20GB upgrade all the way up to $800/mo for 16TB worth of Google's servers. $5/mo nets you 100GB of space. (Note; I just edited those numbers, which changed between now and the initial posting of the article.)
Files stored in GDrive are available for easy sharing via Gmail or Google+; each file also has sharing options for individual users. Apps are already available for PCs, Macs and Android devices, with iOS support "coming soon." There are also robust file-searching capabilities in place. I just installed the desktop PC client, and it supports drag-and-drop functionality.
Once you sign up for Google Drive, it basically absorbs your Google Docs. In fact, "Docs" gets replaced by "Drive" in the black nav bar at the top of Google sites. All of the features available in Docs are also available in Drive, right down to the awesome real-time collaboration mode. Google Drive tracks file revisions for up to a month, though you can opt to have it track a file's revisions eternally if you so desired.
One thing I don't like off the bat is that opening a file stored as a converted GDocs document in the GDrive PC client boots up your browser and opens Google Docs, rather than opening the file in a local word processing program. Not only is it irritating, it introduces a decent amount of lag time between clicking on the file and having it actually open, at least on my Core i5 notebook. It's understandable, though, as GDocs converts files to a new GDocs format for editing. (I guess I'm grumping more about Docs than GDrive, here.) Standard .doc files and the like that haven't been converted to Google's proprietary GDocs format open locally in Word or LibreOffice just fine, though.
While SkyDrive and Dropbox's file support is fairly limited, Google says GDrive's file support chops are comparatively beefy: Open over 30 file types right in your browser—including HD video, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop—even if you don’t have the program installed on your computer. Nifty!
It's free, so go check it out if you want. The lack of Linux support may bum out some, but Google Docs fanatics especially will find a lot to like in Google Drive.