Yet Another Reason to be a Google Slave

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Google Drive Cloud Storage
Google Drive Cloud Storage

There are two types of people in this world. One, who religiously backup their computer data and the other, who don’t.

Arabian Gazette posed a question to a few people to check if they backup data on their computer, including people who claim to be IT-savvy, and not so surprisingly found that an overwhelming majority do not regularly backup data on their PCs.

Although it is not rocket science to predict the state of your mind in case of a computer crash, it’s absolute rocket science for the average Joe to recover his data after the catastrophe.

Companies like Dropbox have made users lives easier by offering seamless backup in the ‘Cloud’. Last week, Google launched ‘Google Drive’, their version of cloud storage, in what seems like yet another addition to its never ending bouquet of services.

Suddenly, we all seem to be spoiled for choice with every cloud storage vendor offering attractive options for file storage.

The most popular ones available today, especially for personal data storage, are Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive and Apple’s iCloud. Typically, ‘personal storage’ offerings assume less security and privacy options.

For enterprise customers, who need better security, privacy and meet other compliance requirements, there are options like TeamDrive and Nomadesk.

So, which one will you choose ?

Let us compare the services:

Storage space

Microsoft SkyDrive offers free 7 GB
Google Drive offers free 5 GB of storage and
Dropbox allows 2 GB free storage (although it offers an affiliate program where you can earn additional free storage capacity by referring friends: 500MB per friend and up to 18 GB)

All the above mentioned players also have paid subscription services that offer higher storage.

SkyDrive offers 20 GB storage for $10/year
Google Drive offers 20 GB for $2.49/month and
Dropbox offers 50 GB for $9.99/month

Supported Platforms

Dropbox supports Windows (including Windows XP), Mac, Linux, iOS, BlackBerry, Android
SkyDrive supports Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone. But, no Linux or Windows XP support
Google Drive supports Windows, Mac, Android phones and tablets (iPad/iPhone support not yet available but expected soon)

Ability to upload large files

Dropbox allows uploading any file size through the destkop client (drag and drop)
SkyDrive upload limit is 2 GB and
Google Drive limits file upload size to 1 GB

File recovery in case of accidental deletion

Dropbox: If you delete a file, you can recover from Trash (up to 30 days of history saved)
Google Drive: – Recovery from trash is possible (although save history not known)
SkyDrive:  – If you delete the file online, you cannot recover it

Now, the biggest fear factor, is the Terms of Service (ToS).

The first thing that you will notice immediately after bumping into any ToS or License Agreement is that it is purportedly not meant for the understanding of average people like you and I. Unless you are armed with a degree in Law and probably have several years of corporate ‘conditioning’ experience with a law firm, it is a good idea to be submissive and click on the “I agree” button and move on.

Following are the excerpts of ToS from Google Drive and Microsoft services:

Google Drive’s TOS

Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.

Microsoft’s ToS

Except for material that we license to you, we don’t claim ownership of the content you provide on the service. Your content remains your content. We also don’t control, verify, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the service.

You control who may access your content. If you share content in public areas of the service or in shared areas available to others you’ve chosen, then you agree that anyone you’ve shared content with may use that content. When you give others access to your content on the service, you grant them free, nonexclusive permission to use, reproduce, distribute, display, transmit, and communicate to the public the content solely in connection with the service and other products and services made available by Microsoft. If you don’t want others to have those rights, don’t use the service to share your content.

You understand that Microsoft may need, and you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service.

Please respect the rights of artists, inventors, and creators. Content may be protected by copyright. People appearing in content may have a right to control the use of their image. If you share content on the service in a way that infringes others’ copyrights, other intellectual property rights, or privacy rights, you’re breaching this contract. You represent and warrant that you have all the rights necessary for you to grant the rights in this section and the use of the content doesn’t violate any law. We won’t pay you for your content. We may refuse to publish your content for any or no reason. We may remove your content from the service at any time if you breach this contract or if we cancel or suspend the service.

The biggest difference that you will notice with Google Drive and other vendors is…while other vendors will only promote the service for the content you upload, Google not only promotes its online services, it also sells contextual Ads or uses your work whatever way it pleases. Now, to be fair, it’s not that other vendors do not wish to do the same, it is just that they don’t have the technology to do so !

Conclusion

It is reasonable to assume that these cloud storage offerings are going to gain more popularity with users that like storage and syncing facilities, allowing them to seamlessly switch locations and devices. Experts like Neil Rubenking of PC Magazine advise users not to be complacent. He says, “You have a responsibility to make your Google (or Skydrive, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) content private, if you don’t want Google manipulating it for its own purposes. Don’t be lazy.”

Our advice:

1. Upload content to your cloud service provider only if you really need to

2. Use encryption software (if the option is available), to encrypt your data when using cloud storage

3. Don’t be lazy (check your public sharing settings and make it private, if you so wish)

What do you think about these cloud storage offerings? Which is your favourite one? Are you concerned about your data security/privacy? We would like to hear from you!

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