Well after what seems like an age and a half Google Drive has finally dropped through the virtual letterbox and been delivered. As with any major launch there was the odd screw up – like the announcement being leaked prematurely on a French web site but hey, it all adds a little spice to the mix and the real roll out started a few hours later and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody died.

Setting it up was simplicity itself and within minutes I could sync files through the desktop sync program – Box, you are missing a trick here – and Google Drive did what it said on the label. So will I be using Drive as my main sync and storage program – no. Well that’s not entirely true because Google Docs has now become Google Drive and as I use Google Docs as was I have no option but to use it.

Own Folder System

I use SugarSync as my primary storage, backup and sync service and have done for years. It has never let me down and it works the way that I want to. I can access all my “stuff” from my desktop, netbook and smartphone. If the IT department at the day job would let me through the firewall I could even access my files from there – but that’s another story. From my desktop sync program I can create my own folder support system from the native software and I don’t have to utilise a third party plugin as you do with Dropbox.

The sync folders on my desktop are perfectly replicated on the cloudside so I know where everything is and specific files can be located easily. Google Drive doesn’t do this. You can organise the folders in the cloud when you are setting up and afterwards but any data uploaded from the desktop goes into a homogenised central pot and you have to drag n drop into folders from there. Not a game changer if you are new to this or use Dropbox but it’s off-putting for me.

Streaming Music Direct

I am also in the process of digitising my CD collection and I have stored the resulting MP3s on SugarSync and providing a Wi-Fi signal is obtainable I can listen to my music streamed direct from SugarSync. Also, any videos or photographs taken on my smartphone are automatically uploaded to SugarSync when I hit a Wi-Fi signal. I know Google now does this and Dropbox are trying a beta service to mimic this but SugarSync came first.

I rate SugarSync so highly that I have bought into its premium service – well with my MP3 collection there wasn’t an option and annualy for less than the price of 10 pints of beer I have more than enough storage space for my needs and this is topped up by getting 500mb every time someone joins SugarSync as a referral from the button’s on this page.

Like Box and SugarSync, Drive gives you 5gb of free space and the option to buy more space and it is here that Google has gone for the jugular with Dropbox which offers a measly 2gb FoC and a pricey upgrade package.

Aggressive Pricing

Google is pricing Drive at a jaw dropping aggressive level. For $30 a year ($2.50 a month), users get 25GB to use for Google Drive and Picasa, plus 25GB of Gmail storage. This is more than what Amazon and Microsoft charge for an additional 20GB, but less than the price of Dropbox, Apple and Box.

For $60 a year ($5 a month), Google offers 100GB of Drive and Picasa storage (plus 25GB for Gmail), which clocks in below Amazon, Apple, Dropbox and Box. For penny pinchers, Microsoft’s offer of 100GB of additional storage — on top of the 7 or 25GB that users already get with the service — is just $50 a year.

Dropbox and Box are among the more expensive services. In the case of Box, the company’s real focus is on business users. In fact, the company has told us on multiple occasions that its focus isn’t so much on Dropbox, but on Microsoft SharePoint. SugarSync, too, is more expensive than Drive but, like Box, the service is substantially more sophisticated and flexible and is aimed at a specific technically competent audience.

Undermine Competition

A 100GB Dropbox account costs more than three times what a Google Drive account costs. In this area, Google is clearly trying to undermine its competition on a per-GB pricing basis. So if I was an angel investor in Dropbox I am sure one part of my body would be twitching a bit especially as Dropbox turned down a lucrative buy up offer last year.

Being pragmatic there are people who will stay with Dropbox for no other reason than they dislike Google and will vote with their credit card to cock a snook at the Big G and I have no issue with that.

From a personal perspective I think Google Drive is great than for no other reason is that it will sort out the wheat from the chaff. Services like Box and SugarSync which have already shown a dynamic and innovative development programme will continue to push the envelope and develop ground breaking services. Dropobox which has lagged behind in the innovation stakes in the last year or so will seriously have to pull its socks up if it is to remain in the game. I hope it does because it was a pioneer in this field and the more competition there is the better it is for us end users.

Laura Yecies, SugarSync’s CEO says in the company blog:

“Anytime a major player like Google enters your space, my first thought is “Great – this is further confirmation that we’re in a hot market.” The Cloud market has received this validation several times now, with Amazon, Apple and now Google all introducing consumer Cloud services. What’s great is that this increases the amount of buzz the industry receives in general, and helps educate the average user about the benefits of the Cloud – something we all benefit from.”