Logo of Drive
|Original author(s)||Google Drive, Inc.|
|Initial release||April 24, 2012|
Google Drive Client for PC/Mac
2.0.1 (September 16, 2013 ) [±] 
|Available in||English and many others|
|Type||Online backup service|
Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service provided by Google, released on April 24, 2012, which enables user cloud storage, file sharing and collaborative editing. Rumors about Google Drive began circulating as early as March 2006. Files shared publicly on Google Drive can be searched with web search engines.
Google Drive offers all users an initial 15 GB (originally 5 GB) of online storage space, usable across three of its most-used services: Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos (aka Picasa Web Albums). A user can get additional storage, which is shared between Picasa and Google Drive, from 100 GB up to 16 TB through a paid monthly subscription plan (US$4.99 per month for 100 GB). A user with any paid storage does not get any free storage along with the paid storage.
Documents using Google Docs native formats (including .gdoc, .gslides, and .gsheet) do not count towards this quota.
For Google Drive to synchronize files between the user's computer and Google Drive storage, the Google Drive client software must be running on the user's computer. The client communicates with Google Drive to cause updates on one side to be propagated to the other so they both normally contain the same data.
Google Drive client software is available for the following devices: PCs running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 with NTFS partitions, or Mac OS X Lion (10.7) and Snow Leopard (10.6); Android smartphones and tablets with Eclair and newer OSes (Android 2.1+); iPhones and iPads, iOS 5.0+.
Even though there is no official client software for Linux Google Drive can still be accessed through Linux via open source projects such as Gdrive. It is additionally possible to mount space provided by Google Drive accounts directly to a Linux file system using google-drive-ocamlfuse, a FUSE based file system written in OCaml and backed by Google Drive. Google indicated in April 2012 that work on Linux client software was underway, but there was no news on this as of November 2013[update].
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.
Ownership and licensing
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.
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. Spreadsheets, launched as Google Labs Spreadsheets on June 6, 2006, 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. At the time of acquisition, Upstartle had four employees. Writely closed registration to its service until the move to Google servers was complete. 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.
Meanwhile, Google developed Google Spreadsheets using the technology it had acquired from 2Web Technologies in 2005 and launched Google Labs Spreadsheets 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.
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 July 6, 2009, Google announced on their official blog that Google Docs along with other Google Apps would be taken out of beta.
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.
On March 7, 2010, DocVerse, an online document collaboration company, was acquired by Google. It allows multiple user online collaboration on Microsoft Office compatible document formats such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Improvements based on DocVerse were announced and deployed in April 2010.
In June 2010, it was reported that access to Google Docs had been blocked in Turkey. A Google employee confirmed the problem saying that it "appear[ed] to be linked to the ongoing ban on YouTube."
On April 26, 2012, Google launched Google Drive, which supplants Google Docs. It combines all of the Docs features with improved storage functionality.
Originally, users who purchased storage would have both the purchased storage and the free storage offered to everyone. 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.
On May 13, 2013 Google announced the merge of their free storage across Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos allowing users to use up to 15 GB of free storage across the services.
Google Drive is Google's "software as a service" office suite. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations can be created with Google Drive, 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.
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.
Google Docs is one of many cloud computing document-sharing services. 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.
Google Cloud Connect is a plug-in for Microsoft Office 2003, 2007 and 2010 on Windows 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.
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.
Google Forms and Google Drawings have been added to the Google Docs suite. Google Forms is a tool that allows users to collect information via a 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.
On May 15, 2012, Research tool was introduced in Google Docs. This feature allows users to quickly search Google through a sidebar while editing a document.
- The price for increased storage amounts was increased, and charged on a monthly rather than annual basis.
- Purchased storage was originally shared between Gmail, Picasa and Google Docs services. At one point, Gmail had a separate storage allowance, but it was later merged again with Gmail when free 15 GB accounts were introduced in 2013.
- Free storage for Gmail increased from 7 GB to 10 GB, and is raised to 25 GB for accounts with upgraded storage. This storage limit is now separate from that of Google Drive and Picasa.
Customers who purchased additional storage plans before April 24, 2012 are charged the original, lower, rates as long as they maintain service and do not change their plan.
Individual documents may not exceed 10 GB as of 7 March 2013[update], embedded images must not exceed 2 MB each, and spreadsheets are limited to 256 columns, 400,000 cells, and 200 sheets. In September 2009, an equation editor was added which allows rendering in LaTeX format; however, Google Docs lacks an equation numbering feature. Files uploaded, but not converted to Google Docs format, may be up to 10GB in size.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Supported file formats
Google Drive viewer allows one to preview the following file formats:
- Image files (.JPEG, .PNG, .GIF, .TIFF, .BMP)
- Video files (WebM, .MPEG4, .3GPP, .MOV, .AVI, .MPEGPS, .WMV, .FLV)
- Text files (.TXT)
- Markup/Code (.CSS, .HTML, .PHP, .C, .CPP, .H, .HPP, .JS)
- Microsoft Word (.DOC and .DOCX)
- Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
- Microsoft PowerPoint (.PPT and .PPTX)
- Adobe Portable Document Format (.PDF)
- Apple Pages (.PAGES)
- Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
- Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
- Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
- Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
- PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
- Fonts (.TTF, .OTF)
- XML Paper Specification (.XPS)
- Archive file types (.ZIP and .RAR)
Data safety and privacy
||The neutrality of this section is disputed. (July 2012)|
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 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).
- 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. 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.)
- 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.
- Google has a close relationship with the US intelligence agencies and provides information to intelligence agencies 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.
Some of the issues that have to be considered to see if Google Drive is "enterprise-ready" include
- Encryption of data in transit and storage
- Service Level Agreements (regarding electronic discovery and incident management)
- Audit trails for users and administrators
- Data Segregation and Data Isolation
Google provides optional free two-factor authentication for greater account security. 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. Google has also switched to using secure sockets layer communication (HTTPS) by default, preventing common man-in-the-middle attacks. In addition, third party Google Drive plugins exist which enable at rest encryption of data stored on drive, adding a further layer of security.
The Android Google Drive app, which is available for free on Google Play, 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. The iPhone Safari Browser also allows users to view documents, spreadsheets, and presentation and to edit and create Google Docs documents and spreadsheets. 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. PDF files can be viewed but not edited.
- Google Fusion Tables
- Google Play
- Google Cloud Connect to sync from Microsoft Office Documents
- Google Picasa for image storage
- Syncplicity - EMC Corporation
- Ubuntu One
- Yandex Disk
- List of word processors
- Comparison of word processors
- Syncdocs to sync any file format
- Comparison of office suites
- File hosting service
- Cloud storage
- Comparison of file hosting services
- Comparison of online backup services
- Remote backup service
- List of presentation software
- List of equation editors
- List of online word processors
- List of online spreadsheets
- Cloud collaboration
- Document collaboration
- Document-centric collaboration
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