By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 9:31 am
People have been talking about Gdrive–a theoretical online storage service from Google–for eons. It still isn’t here, but Google keeps tippy-toeing towards offering the functionality we all assumed it would have. Back in November, the company started offering additional storage for Gmail and Picasa at dirt-cheap prices. And now it’s announcing that it’s letting users of its Google Docs online productivity suite store any sort of file in their Google Docs Web-based repository, not just ones that work with the service’s applications. That makes Google Docs into a virtual hard drive/backup solution of sorts, for the first time ever. The new feature will be rolling out over the next few weeks.
You get 1GB of storage for free, and can store files up to 250MB in size; additional space is 25 cents a gigabyte a year, the same lowball price as far the Gmail/Picasa storage. The company is also rolling out a version of this offering for big companies that use the fee-based version of Google Docs; that one charges $3.50 a gigabyte a year, but permits automated syncing of files through a new version of Memeo and other apps.
None of this is anything radical, but there’s one interesting feature; Since Google Docs lets you share folders with colleagues, it’ll be easy to upload files of any sort which relate to a collaborative project you’re working on, so everyone involved can get at them. Which seems to be the basic benefit that Google is trying to provide here.
This still isn’t the Gdrive that people used to fantasize about–the one that let users store 100% of their data online and easily sync it between multiple devices. Probably for free. But it’s the closest that Google has come to date.
Incidentally, Google’s explanation of the new feature says “Google Docs now supports files up to 250MB in size.” When I try to upload existing files for editing in Google Docs’ apps, it still warns me that there are file-size limits: 500KB of text for word-processing files, 10MB for presentations, 1MB for spreadsheets, and 10MB for PDF files. Those caps are small enough that they’ve sometimes prevented me from using files in Google Docs. I hope they’re going away, but I have a query in to Google for clarification.
[UPDATE: A Google representative told me the limits are still in place.]