Google Drive: The Good, the Bad and Where is the Embed Option

DISCLAIMER:  I wrote this post over lunch, in real time, as I installed and experimented with Google Drive.  It may be that some of the good things I mention won’t work as well as they seem to at first glance, and it may be that some of the limitations I note below are either already addressed (though clearly not in an obvious manner) or will be addressed in the future.

Google Drive was finally released today.  It will clearly shake-up the cloud space, and, as I noted yesterday, has a huge built-in user base, thanks to Gmail.  My initial impressions are mixed.

The Good

1. It’s Google.  Say what you will about Google mining our data and whatnot, but if I am going to put my life in the cloud, I want a name associated with the service.  For security, backup and general reliability.  I’ve used Gmail (via Google Apps) for a long, long time and it is definitely reliable.  In sum, I just trust Google to take care of its equipment and my files.

2. It integrates well with your local file system.  My most important requirement for a cloud service is the ability to drag and drop files via Windows Explorer or Finder.  This works well with Google Drive, just like it does for Dropbox and SkyDrive.

3. It integrates well with Gmail and some (but not all- see below) other Google apps.  Emailing from Google Drive is as simple as selecting File>Email as attachment.

4. You can buy as much space as you need.  Paid plans range from 25GB for $30 a year to 100GB for $60 a year to 1TB for $600 a year all the way up to 16TB for $9600 a year.

The Bad

1. Google Drive space is usable by Google Docs (which I use a little) and Picasa Web Albums (which I don’t use at all), but not by Gmail (Google did bump Gmail storage up to 10GB today and paid Google Drive users get another bump to 25GB) and, most disappointingly for me, Google Music.  I want some place I can store and access everything.  Every.  Thing.  Not just some things.  This may be a licensing restriction, forced on Google by the obsolete, empty bag holding, cat stuffing record labels, but it still sucks.

2. There seems to be no way (so far) to play audio files from the cloud.  I tried to play an MP3 and was greeted with this joy.

This is not good, and puts Google Drive at a disadvantage compared to other services, including SkyDrive, which elegantly streamed a video in my test last night (via the iPad app; perhaps this will be a feature in Google’s forthcoming iOS app).  Sure, you can sync your computers and play audio and video from the synced folder, but I am trying to consolidate my stuff in the cloud, not put it everywhere.

If videos streamed from Google Drive, I would almost certainly buy some space, to create a private YouTube for home videos, if nothing else.

Update 1:  Happily, it appears that you can stream videos from Google Drive.  I uploaded a video this evening, clicked on it from Google Drive on the web, and it streamed (just like a YouTube video).  So a private YouTube is possible.

Where is the Embed Code?

3. You can’t embed photos, audios or (I presume, but have not tried) videos in sites other than Google+.

I think Google+ is a beautifully written and robust platform (I’m not just saying that because my friend Louis ended up in that screen cap; I really mean it).  The problem is that I don’t want my cloud service to dictate where I share things.  Even those who  actually have active Google+ circles have to share from Google+.  There should at least be a Share to Google+ option within Google Drive.

The Bottom Line

If Google Drive extended at least to Google Music, and allowed easy sharing (e.g., direct link or embed code) on other services, and streamed audio and video files, I would strongly consider buying a 1TB plan and moving all my stuff there.  Sadly, it doesn’t –  at least so far.  I’ll take a wait and see approach, but based on what I see so far, I don’t think Google Drive is trying to fill the specific need I have.

This leads me back to the other horses in the cloud derby.  SkyDrive (the surprising new entry and maybe leader) and my old standby, Dropbox.

Corrections as errors are discovered and updates as they occur.


2 thoughts on “Google Drive: The Good, the Bad and Where is the Embed Option

  1. I use Wuala ( It’s more pricey but it brings other advantages:

    1) The one I find invaluable and difficult to find elsewhere is that you don’t neeed to create a special container folder for uploads on your hard drive. You can select which folders you want to upload. This way, your file structure is preserved. So I can sync in real time some folders between my NAS, my powerful laptop and my lighter Tablet PC. And these folders don’t have to be the same on each mobile machine. Android and iOs are supported as well.
    2) I get more or less realtime synchro of each file modified on any of these machines. If one of them is turned off, synchro will be reactivated as soon as it’s on again. By the way, you can also just back up some folders if you don’t want the synchro.
    3) the files are crypted before being up/downloaded so process is not ultrafast but it’s not been a bother for me ‘cos I don’t upload movies or audio files.
    4) you get forum support for the bits and pieces and email support if something goes bad. Never happened to me or to the several people around me who use the service. But I read in the forum that this can happen. We did experience 2 or 3 outages over the years but never past an hour. Since I always have a copy of the files on my NAS, I could calmly wait until the situation got back to normal.

    Files can be shared with the Wuala Community if one feels enclined to do so or with some individual registered users of the service. Right now, it’s only a 1-way process (the person needs to save the files in its own folder hard disk and upload it in its own shared folder and not the initial one. So it’s been pretty useless for collab work. A new version of Wuala was announced for May and I hope they get it right this time.

    Files can be shared with unregistered users through a link but I haven’t yet shared any on the social networks.

    Due to the security measures mentioned under 3), accessing files from a computer which doesn’t have wuala applic is a pain. So I would not recommend this service to people who use Internet cafés to work from when on the road.

    How about checking it out as a comparison? A free 2 Goplan is available.

    As for its history, Wuala was developed by a teams of science geeks from the Zurich Polytechnics and later bought by French storage co LaCie which was painfully trying to provide a similar and more expensive service to its business customers. In the process, LaCie forced Wuala to put an end to the very functionality which attracted me to Wuala in the first place: trading storage. If you gave a bit of your hard disk space for p2p backup of other users files, you gain additional storage on Wuala. A win-win solution which spared a the 3rd or 4th wuala server config. Great as a way to to more fully use the hardware resources and save some energy. Shame on LaCie.

    P.S. I don’t have any personal or business connection with Wuala other than being a user of their service.

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