With all this talk of Google Drive ‘coming soon’, we’re not entirely sure what all the fuss is about, after all, Google have been dishing out 9GB of free cloud storage for a while now. What’s more, Google’s cloud storage service offers a host of advantages over Dropbox, Box and others with considerably more data (9GB), a text editor (with spellcheck if you’re on Android 4.0+ or iOS) and native mobile support with no need to install any additional apps.
What are we talking about? Gmail of course. Underwhelmed? Don’t be, just hear us out.
Simple, organized file uploads
Create a free Gmail account and you’ll have the ability to upload files up to 25MB in size and 7GB storage. Uploading is simple – just make a draft email – you don’t even need to write anything in it, attach a file and it’s in your drafts folder, auto-saved when you close the email. What’s more, there’s a really handy search bar on your Gmail home screen that lets you find uploaded files by keywords and this is available on mobile too. Take this search below for example, simply typing Motorola pulls up our Motorola Reviews.
For all you fastidious file-keepers out there, the option to work with labels is also priceless. As you can see in the image above, we’ve created the label reviews. Now this pulls up all our reviews, however we can also create the label Motorola to isolate our Motorola reviews, another feature that translates to mobile Gmail.
This whole process is even easier from an Android phone. Simply select share to Gmail when reading a document, looking over a picture or taking a screen-cap and title your email. You don’t even have to send the email, just save it as a draft and it will automatically upload and be available on your desktop or wherever you want to access your Gmail account next.
See, simple. Once you get your head around the processes behind the Gmail UI, in a job like ours, churning out text chunks with images attached, it really can make your life a lot tidier.
Not one, but two text editors
The first text editor we use is Gmail itself. We write articles as emails, Gmail autosaves, we turn off our computer, we open Gmail on our phone, we carry on from where we left off. Once a seat frees up on the train, we can just sit down, pull out our laptop, netbook or Asus Transformer and crack on with a full sized keyboard. Similar to Evernote in terms or core functionality, you can able to upload and chop and change between mobile tablet and desktop without even having to think about it.
The Gmail application on phones has become advanced to the point of including spell check on Android 4.0 and above. The native iOS email app also offers similar functionality so you can get word-perfect document written wherever you are.
If you are intent on a more comprehensive word processor and the Gmail app isn’t enough to satiate your document suite appetite, you might want to revert to Google Docs. Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations are a breeze with Google’s editing suite which comes part and parcel with your shiny new Google account and gives you an additional 1GB of storage taking our total storage to eight free jeebees.
Mobile document editing
What’s more, you can get a third party document editor such as Polaris Office or Documents To Go which offer more comprehensive editing capabilities for a small fee. These sync directly with your Google Docs account and give you a much more intuitive, desktop like experience.
This means that with a free Google Mail account, you’ve effectively got a huge amount of file-storage, a fully functional document editor, a mobile editor as well as a host of third party app support. Dropbox who?
While you could go about uploading images in the standard Gmail fashion outlined earlier, if you’re a mobile picture fan and are on a generous data package such as Three’s all you can eat data or T-Mobile’s Full Monty plan, this could be for you.
A simple download of Google+ from the Android Market will enable you to auto-upload every picture you take to the cloud. It won’t be visible to anyone but you unless you choose to share it publicly, and you can even specify to only upload when connected via Wi-Fi. You can then view these pictures through the Google+ application or through a desktop when logged into you Google account.
With this image service giving you another 1GB, this takes our total up to a handsome 9GB, and if the need arises you can buy more space in the future with 20GB setting you back $5 a year.
There are inevitably limitation when using a service like Gmail as a storage solution. You can’t for example back up your hard drive to Gmail. You can’t upload a file in excess of 25MB so video is probably a no go and you most certainly can’t download the entire contents of your account with a single right click and save. As far as what happens when you’re out of space, here are the rates for more storage:
- 20 GB – $5/yr
- 80 GB – $20/yr
- 200 GB – $50/yr
- 400 GB – $100/yr
- 1 TB – $256/yr
- 2 TB – $512/yr
- 4 TB – $1024/yr
- 8 TB – $2048/yr
16 TB – $4096/yr
Limitations accounted for, we find our Gmail solution suits our work needs better than the likes of Evernote and gives Dropbox a real run for its money. Gmail also autosaves very regularly meaning you aren’t likely to lose work, and the cross-platform support is priceless. So what do you think? 9Gb of free cloud sound good? Do you use another slightly faffy, very effective means of backing up your content? We’d love to hear your answers, thoughts and feelings, so share all in the comments section below.