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Google Drive

15 GB free; $2 per month for 100 GB; $10 per month for 1 TB
Reviewed
May 2014
by ConsumerSearch

Best cheap cloud storage

Pros
  • Simple interface
  • Real-time, collaborative editing
  • Strong apps
Cons
  • No media streaming
  • Privacy concerns

Bottom line

Google Drive is one of the cheapest cloud storage services, offering users 15 GB of free storage (Google Mail and Google Photo storage are counted toward your limit) and paid storage at rock-bottom prices ($2 per month for 100 GB; $10 per month for 1 TB). Reviewers love Google Drive's powerful search feature, which scans the text of documents as well as file names, and experts also appreciate that changes in collaborative documents appear in real time, as you type.

Ease of use

Functional yet simple interface. Experts say Google Drive's design mimics rival (and our Best Reviewed Cloud Storage) Dropbox's simple, functional interface, which is a good thing. Files you add to the Google Drive folder in your browser or on your computer seamlessly and immediately sync with Google's servers and appear on your other Google Drive-enabled devices within minutes. Google Drive is known for being a virtual service, but just like Dropbox (2 GB free; $10 per month for 100 GB), you can also download a client onto your desktop that lets you edit locally and drag and drop files into your Google Drive folder. Google Drive supports Windows PCs, Macs, and Android and iOS devices.

Features

Real-time collaboration. Google Drive earns accolades for being able to edit Microsoft Office files and a few other basic file types directly in-browser. You can easily share files with other users in the cloud and work with them to collaboratively edit documents, spreadsheets and slideshows in real time. Users can convert photos and PDF files into Google Doc files, and third-party apps let you sign documents, share slides and play music. (There are no built-in media players.) Privacy mavens bristle at Google Drive's terms of service and privacy policy, however; unlike its competitors, Google claims rights over your Google content, including that in Google Drive. Google saves file versions for 30 days or 100 revisions, and deleted files can easily be restored from a trash folder on the service's web interface.

Plans

Up to 30 TB of storage available. Google Drive offers 15 GB of storage free; $2 per month unlocks 100 GB. The plans continue all the way up to 30 TB (Est. $300 per month), which is significantly more than most users (and many businesses) need. If your Google Drive account has a Gmail account associated with it, the Gmail account's storage space will be counted toward the limit. The deep integration with ad-supported Google products raises privacy concerns with some reviewers. For other budget online backup services, try Copy (15 GB free; $10 per month for 250 GB) or MediaFire (up to 50 GB free), which have fewer bells and whistles but work with Windows, Mac and Linux.

Our Sources

1. CNET

CNET's Sarah Mitroff picks Google Drive as a good overall choice and best for Google users in this comparative review of Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and Box. Google Drive's third-party apps and editing functions also make it a winner.

Review: OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box: Which Cloud Storage Service Is Right for You?, Sarah Mitroff, March 13, 2014

2. PC Advisor (UK)

Google Drive is awarded 4.5 out of 5 stars (just behind rival Dropbox) thanks to its "generous" 15 GB of free space. Google also offers two-step verification to secure your files, but files are encrypted in the weaker 128-bit AES rather than 256-bit.

Review: 7 Best Cloud Storage Services - 2014's Best Online Storage Sites Revealed, Martyn Casserly, March 14, 2014

3. PCMag.com

The Dropbox-like syncing functionality, excellent collaborative editing abilities and the built-in OCR technology of Google Drive help earn it an Editors' Choice award from PCMag.com. Poor media streaming capabilities knock a point off of its total score, however.

Review: Google Drive, Mark Hachman and Jill Duffy, April 26, 2013

4. Macworld (U.K.)

Dropbox and Google Drive are recommended over Microsoft OneDrive in this comparative review. Dropbox's local networking option and apps are stronger than its competitors, but Dropbox is more expensive.

Review: Microsoft OneDrive vs. Google Drive and Dropbox: Best File Sync Service for Mac?, Lou Hattersley, March 17, 2014

5. PC World

Google Drive is named best for collaboration in this short comparative review of cloud storage services for small businesses because of its built-in editing tools like Google Docs and Google Sheets. Google Drive's desktop client is also a mentioned as a plus.

Review: Four Excellent Dropbox Alternatives for Your Small-business Storage Needs, Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, Aug. 16, 2013

6. Lifehacker.com

Google Drive makes it into the top 5 (No. 2 behind Dropbox) among cloud storage service providers in this informal poll of Lifehacker users. Google Drive's tools, including docs, spreadsheets, presentations and drawing along with its 15 GB of free storage, make it a top choice.

Review: Five Best Cloud Storage Providers, Alan Henry, June 30, 2013

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