Google Drive

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Google Drive
Logo of Google Drive
Google Drive mounted in Chromium OS
Google Drive mounted in Chromium OS
Original author(s)Google, Inc.
Developer(s)Google, Inc.
Initial release

‹See Tfd›

April 24, 2012; 14 months ago (2012-04-24)
Stable release

Google Drive Client for PC/Mac
1.10.4769.0632 (‹See Tfd› June 18, 2013; 43 days ago (2013-06-18)) [±]

Android
1.2.228.32 (‹See Tfd› June 21, 2013; 40 days ago (2013-06-21)) [±] [1]

iOS
1.4.0 (‹See Tfd›

June 3, 2013; 58 days ago (2013-06-03)) [±] [2]
Development statusActive
Operating system
Available inEnglish and many others
TypeOnline backup service
LicenseProprietary software
Websitedrive.google.com
 
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Google Drive
Logo of Google Drive
Google Drive mounted in Chromium OS
Google Drive mounted in Chromium OS
Original author(s)Google, Inc.
Developer(s)Google, Inc.
Initial release

‹See Tfd›

April 24, 2012; 14 months ago (2012-04-24)
Stable release

Google Drive Client for PC/Mac
1.10.4769.0632 (‹See Tfd› June 18, 2013; 43 days ago (2013-06-18)) [±]

Android
1.2.228.32 (‹See Tfd› June 21, 2013; 40 days ago (2013-06-21)) [±] [1]

iOS
1.4.0 (‹See Tfd›

June 3, 2013; 58 days ago (2013-06-03)) [±] [2]
Development statusActive
Operating system
Available inEnglish and many others
TypeOnline backup service
LicenseProprietary software
Websitedrive.google.com

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service provided by Google, released on April 24, 2012,[4][5] which enables user cloud storage, file sharing and collaborative editing. Google Drive is now the home of Google Docs, a suite of productivity applications, that offer collaborative editing on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. Rumors about Google Drive began circulating as early as March 2006.[6] Files shared publicly on Google Drive can be searched with web search engines.

Storage[edit]

Google Drive offers all users an initial 15 GB of online storage space, usable across three of its most-used services: Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos[7] (aka Picasa Web Albums).[8] A user can get additional storage, which is shared between Picasa and Google Drive,[9] from 100 GB up to 16 TB through a paid monthly subscription plan ($4.99 US per month for 100 GB).[10] Originally, these subscriptions were truly treated as "additional storage" such that a user with a 100 GB subscription would still retain the free 5 GB for a total of 105 GB; however, in September 2012, Google announced it was cutting the 5 GB of free storage from all paid users' accounts, so that a user paying for 100 GB would be restricted to precisely 100 GB.[11] Data storage of files up to 1 GB total in size was introduced on 13 January 2010, but has since been increased to 10 GB. Documents using Google Docs native formats do not count towards this quota.[12]

On May 13, 2013 Google announced the merge of their free storage across Gmail, Google Drive, & Google+ Photos allowing users up to 15GB of free storage to use across their accounts.[13]

Client[edit]

For Google Drive to synchronize files on the user's computer in the cloud, the Google Drive client software must be running on the user's computer. The client will communicate with the Google Drive online, and ensure that files are synchronized in both locations.

At launch, Google Drive client software was available for the following devices: on PCs running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 with NTFS partitions, or Mac OS X Lion (10.7) and Snow Leopard (10.6); on Android smartphones and tablets with Eclair and newer OSes (Android 2.1+); on iPhones and iPads, iOS 5.0+.[14] Work on Linux client software is underway.[15] According to Sundar Pichai of Google, the Google Drive online storage service will be tightly integrated with Chrome OS version 20.[16]

There are third-party Google Drive application programs ("apps") that can be installed from the Chrome Web Store. These applications, running in Google Chrome, operate on the online files, and can be used to edit images and videos, fax and sign documents, manage projects, create flowcharts, etc.[17]

Ownership and licensing[edit]

Google has only one, unified terms of service and privacy policy for all its products. According to CNET, unlike competing services Dropbox and SkyDrive, Google retains a more broad claim to reproduce, use, and create derivative works from content stored on the Google Drive. This license is perpetual even after removal of content. Although the user retains intellectual property rights, the broad Google Drive license allows extraction and parsing of uploaded content to customize advertising and other services that Google provides to the user, and for promoting the service.[18] The broad nature of Google's claim to uploaded files also allows for usability improvements, such as creating modified versions of uploaded content which are more suitable for various use cases. For example, transcoding an uploaded video into multiple formats more suitable for viewing on a phone or different web browsers.

Another report from The Verge finds that Google's terms are quite comparable to those of its competitors, and slightly better in some cases.[19]

Google Docs[edit]

An example of a document in Google Docs

Google Docs (now housed in Google Drive) is a free, Web-based office suite and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of Writely and Spreadsheets with a presentation program incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems.

History[edit]

Writely's beta logo

Google Docs originated from two separate products, Writely and Google Spreadsheets. Writely was a web-based word processor created by the software company Upstartle and launched in August 2005.[20] Spreadsheets, launched as Google Labs Spreadsheets on June 6, 2006,[21] originated from the acquisition of the XL2Web product by 2Web Technologies. Writely's original features included a collaborative text editing suite and access controls. Menus, keyboard shortcuts, and dialog boxes are similar to what users may expect in a desktop word processor such as Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer.

On March 9, 2006, Google announced that it had acquired Upstartle.[22] At the time of acquisition, Upstartle had four employees.[23] Writely closed registration to its service until the move to Google servers was complete.[22] In August 2006, Writely sent account invitations to everyone who had requested to be placed on a waiting list, and then became publicly available on August 23. Writely continued to maintain its own user system until September 19, 2006, when it was integrated with Google Accounts.[24]

Meanwhile, Google developed Google Spreadsheets using the technology it had acquired from 2Web Technologies in 2005 and launched Google Labs Spreadsheets[21][25] on June 6, 2006 as the first public component of what would eventually become Google Docs. It was initially made available to only a limited number of users, on a first-come, first-served basis. The limited test was later replaced with a beta version available to all Google Account holders, around the same time as a press release was issued.[26]

In February 2007, Google Docs was made available to Google Apps users.

In June 2007, Google changed the front page to include folders instead of labels, organized in a side bar.

On September 17, 2007, Google released their presentation program product for Google Docs.[27]

On July 6, 2009, Google announced on their official blog that Google Docs along with other Google Apps would be taken out of beta.[28]

On January 13, 2010, Google announced on their official blog that Google Docs would allow any file type, including 1 GB of free space and $0.25/GB for additional storage.[29]

On March 7, 2010, DocVerse, an online document collaboration company, was acquired by Google.[30] It allows multiple user online collaboration on Microsoft Office compatible document formats such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.[31] Improvements based on DocVerse were announced and deployed in April 2010.[32]

In June 2010, it was reported that access to Google Docs had been blocked in Turkey.[33] A Google employee confirmed the problem saying that it "appear[ed] to be linked to the ongoing ban on YouTube."[34]

As of September 29, 2011, Google Docs supports offline viewing through an opt-in beta HTML 5 web app.[35]

On April 26, 2012, Google Launched Google Drive, which supplants Google Docs. It combines all of the Docs features with improved storage functionality.[36]

Features[edit]

Google Docs is Google's "software as a service" office suite. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations can be created with Google Docs, imported through the web interface, or sent via email. Documents can be saved to a user's local computer in a variety of formats (ODF, HTML, PDF, RTF, Text, Microsoft Office). Documents are automatically saved to Google's servers to prevent data loss, and a revision history is automatically kept so past edits may be viewed (although this only works for adjacent revisions, and there is currently no way to find and isolate changes in long documents.). Documents can be tagged and archived for organizational purposes. The service is officially supported on recent versions of the Firefox, Internet Explorer (9+), Safari and Chrome browsers running on Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X, Linux and Chrome OS operating systems.[37]

Google Docs is a tool for real time collaborative editing. Documents can be shared, opened, and edited by multiple users at the same time. Users cannot be notified of changes, but the application can notify users when a comment or discussion is made or replied to, facilitating collaboration. There is no way to highlight changes made by a particular editor in real time during a writing session, nor a way to jump to the changes made. However, users can usually see where in the document or file a particular editor is currently writing, since in most of the suite's products, an editor's current position is represented with an editor-specific color/cursor. Also, the revision history included in the service allows users to see the changes made to a document, distinguished by editor, using their specific color. The application supports two ISO standard document formats: OpenDocument (for both opening and exporting) and Office Open XML (for opening only). It also includes support for proprietary formats such as .doc and .xls.[38][39]

Google Docs is one of many cloud computing document-sharing services.[40] The majority of document-sharing services require user fees, whereas Google Docs is free. Its popularity amongst businesses is growing due to enhanced sharing features and accessibility. In addition, Google Docs has enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity among students and educational institutions.[41]

Google Cloud Connect is a plug-in for Windows Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 that can automatically store and synchronize any Microsoft Word document, PowerPoint presentation, or Excel spreadsheet to Google Docs in Google Docs or Microsoft Office formats. The Google Doc copy is automatically updated each time the Microsoft Office document is saved. Microsoft Office documents can be edited offline and synchronized later when online. Google Cloud Sync maintains previous Microsoft Office document versions and allows multiple users to collaborate by working on the same document at the same time.[42][43]

Google Spreadsheets and Google Sites also incorporate Google Apps Script to write code within documents in a similar way to VBA in Microsoft Office. The scripts can be activated either by user action or by a trigger in response to an event[44][45]

Google Forms and Google Drawings have been added to the Google Docs suite. Google Forms is a tool that allows you to collect information via personalized survey or quiz. The information is then collected and automatically connected to a spreadsheet with the same name. The spreadsheet is populated with the survey and quiz responses.

Google Drawings allows users to collaborate creating, sharing, and editing images or drawings. Google Drawings contains a subset of the features in Google Presentation (Google Slides) but with different templates.

Offline viewing is available as an opt-in beta HTML 5 web app.[35]

On May 15, 2012, Research tool was introduced in Google Docs.[46] It brings the web’s wealth of information to the users while they're writing documents.

Storage[edit]

Google Docs initially provided 1 GB of storage for free. On April 24, 2012, the free storage was increased to 5 GB.[47] Other aspects of the service were changed at the same time,[48] including:

Current monthly rates for increased storage are: $2.49 for 25 GB, $4.99 for 100 GB, and additional tiers up to 16 TB at roughly $0.05 per GB.[49]

Customers who purchased additional storage plans before April 24, 2012 are allowed to keep the old rates as long as they maintain service and do not change their plan.[48]

File limits[edit]

Individual documents may not exceed 10 GB as of 7 March 2013 (2013-03-07), embedded images must not exceed 2 MB each, and spreadsheets are limited to 256 columns, 400,000 cells, and 200 sheets.[50] In September 2009, an equation editor was added which allows rendering in LaTeX format; however, Google Docs lacks an equation numbering feature. Find-and-replace is available, and although there was no ability to do the search in a reverse direction in the original release, the newest version of Google Docs allows reverse search and reverse replace. Files uploaded, but not converted to Google Docs format, may be up to 10GB in size.[51]

Documents
1,024,000 characters, regardless of the number of pages or font size. Uploaded document files that are converted to the Google documents format can not be larger than 2 MB.[51]
Spreadsheets
400,000 cells, with a maximum of 256 columns per sheet. Uploaded spreadsheet files that are converted to the Google spreadsheets format can not be larger than 20 MB, and need to be under 400,000 cells and 256 columns per sheet.[51]
Presentations
Presentations created in Google Slides can be up to 50 MB — which is about 200 slides. Uploaded presentation files that are converted into the Google presentations format can also be up to 50 MB.[51]

Supported file formats[edit]

Google Drive viewer allows one to preview the following file formats:[52]

Data safety and privacy[edit]

In a cloud environment, data security issues and national interests mean that on-line document storage (e.g. electronic mail), and processing (e.g. Gmail) can be unsuitable for use by governments or commercial organizations. Especially so where sensitive data (e.g. electronic mail) or confidential data is being stored, edited or shared on systems and infrastructure that are outsourced (e.g. by senior US government officials to Google) and shared with many other organizations, individuals, users. (e.g. the Internet.)[53][54]

  1. In a mid-2011 attack from Jinan, China, (a city with a military command center), the passwords were stolen for the Gmail accounts of hundreds of senior US government officials in a phishing attack.[53] The Gmail address and password would have given the attackers the ability to access other areas of Google for these user accounts (Apps, Docs, etc.,) Other systems where the username and password pair were the same could also have been accessed. Also, some systems using a password recovery feature could be accessed. (If a password is forgotten a new one is sent to the registered email address. See Password notification email.)
  2. On 10 March 2009, Google reported that a bug in Google Docs had allowed unintended access to some private documents. Google believed that 0.05% of all documents stored via the service were affected by the bug, and claims the issue has now been fixed.[54]
  3. Google has a close relationship with the US intelligence agencies[55][56] and provides information to intelligence agencies[57] around the world upon request via established protocols (e.g. RIPA in the UK). Google is primarily a US company, and therefore, to protect national interests, some non-US citizens may have their safety or privacy compromised as a result of using Google Drive and other Google services.[57][58]

Some of the issues that have to be considered to see if Google Drive is "enterprise-ready" include

Google provides optional free two-factor authentication for greater account security.[59] To log in, users must provide a short random code sequence sent to their phones via SMS or generated by the Google Authenticator app for Android or iOS.[60][61] Google has also switched to using secure sockets layer communication (HTTPS) by default, preventing common man-in-the-middle attacks.[62][63][64] In addition, third party Google Drive plugins exist which enable at rest encryption of data stored on drive, adding a further layer of security.[65]

Mobile access[edit]

The Android Google Drive app, which is available for free on Google Play,[66] allows users to view, edit, and create Google Docs documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The Android Google Docs app can also take a photo of a document, sign, or other text and use Optical Character Recognition to convert to text that can be edited.[67] The iPhone Safari Browser also allows users to view documents, spreadsheets, and presentation and to edit and create Google Docs documents and spreadsheets.[68] Furthermore, the Google App for iPhone allows users to view and edit Google Docs. Most other mobile devices can also view and edit Google Docs documents and spreadsheets using a mobile browser.[69] PDF files can be viewed but not edited.

See also[edit]

Google related[edit]

Competitors[edit]

Other[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "iTunes App Store Page". App Store. Apple. Retrieved July 1,2013. 
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  6. ^ "Google Drive: What we know so far". TechCrunch. Retrieved April 24, 2012. 
  7. ^ Lockhart, Joshua (2013-05-14), "Google Introduces Unified Cloud Storage: 15GB For Google Drive, Gmail, & Google+ Photos [Updates]", MakeUseOf, retrieved 2013-06-05 
  8. ^ Whitney, Lance (2013-03-05), "Google now redirects Picasa Web Albums to Google+ Photos", CNET, retrieved 2013-06-05 
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External links[edit]