For the past couple of years, I have been using Dropbox for data syncing and file sharing. It is an elegant, easy-to-use service that has saved me on more than one occasion. Dropbox is particularly good at saving earlier versions of a file, which is great if you tend to overwrite files like I do. For all of this and 50 GB of storage, I pay about $99 per year.
Now Google is, finally, getting into the cloud drive business, following Apple iCloud (which I have but never use) and other services such as Sugar Sync. I just downloaded the software and started using it. So far, Google Drive works much like Dropbox, though the interface is not as pretty. I’m not sure Google ever does anything beautifully, with the possible exception of their sleek browser, Chrome.
The cool part about Google Drive is the amount of free space it offers: a whopping 5 GB. That is a whole lot of text files. Or about 1500 music files. Or about 5 full length movies. And getting more space is cheaper than with Dropbox, almost by half, as this comparison chart from Digital Inspiration shows (hat tip: Kevin). I don’t think I’ll switch. I might just use Google Drive to store some biggish files that are currently hogging space in my Dropbox account. I guess if I were a little more savvy, I would have multiple accounts from different services, backing up everything piece by piece. That would be complicated, though, and that kind of defeats the purpose of behind-the-scenes file syncing.
Here is the moral of the story: students should never lose data again. Tell your students to set up Google Drive accounts at home. Make it a part of your course requirements. They’ll never blame flash drives again.