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Google Close To Launching Cloud Storage 'Google Drive' 205

Posted by timothy
from the when-gdrive-isn't-good-enough-for-you dept.
MrSeb writes with this selection from ExtremeTech: "Why doesn't Google offer a cloud storage service to rival Dropbox, Box.net, or Microsoft's SkyDrive? Google has the most internet-connected servers in the world, the largest combined storage of any web company, and already offers photo storage (Picasa), document storage (Docs), music storage (Music), but for some reason it has never offered a unified Google Drive. According to people familiar with the matter, however, our wait is almost over: Google's Hard Drive In The Sky is coming soon, possibly 'within weeks.' Feature-wise, it sounds like Google Drive will be comparable to Dropbox, with free basic storage (5GB?) and additional space for a yearly fee."
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Google Close To Launching Cloud Storage 'Google Drive'

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  • Yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:54AM (#38980593)
    More ways for Google to know what you're doing. Will they be scanning your documents? Checking the artist names of the songs you have there and target ads related to them? What about <fill in your own scenario here>?
    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by equex (747231) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:59AM (#38980661) Homepage
      just encrypt the files with AES256 before you upload.
      • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by masternerdguy (2468142) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:14AM (#38980855)
        Oh goodie! Maybe the government will think you're a terrorist then!
        • Then just run your own private cloud on media temple or aws or rackspace and sshfs data through your own VPN. It'll cost a bit but it's way better than having to rely on idiotic 3rd party system applications/services to access your cloud data, plus you can set up your own file servers to hold automated backups

        • by mr1911 (1942298)
          The government already thinks you are a terrorist. They will roll out the next "illegal" or "suspicious" activity when it suits them.
        • by Skapare (16644)

          They already do. Your point is?

        • Or make Google think you're a data hog and kick you off the server. Encrypted files can't be compressed efficiently, meaning you're actually going to take up 5GB for real.

      • Exactly, something like encfs works fine with these sort of services (since it's not a huge container that needs to be moved around)

      • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Informative)

        by ducman (107063) <slashdotNO@SPAMreality-based.com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @12:51PM (#38983167)

        I'd like a way to use these "cloud" storage services to make a really safe encrypted filesystem. Imagine that 95% of my data was on my own fileserver, but a critical 5% of the data was only stored on a "cloud" server (mirrored across several, for safety and performance). The FBI confiscates my server and a judge orders me to give them the passwords. "Fine," I say, "the password is 'pass1234,' good luck!"

        You could probably do something with RAID-5 over loop-mounted files to simulate this, but I'm not sure that would necessarily ensure that no files were recoverable without access the off-site part.

    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:01AM (#38980683)

      The masses have spoken. They don't care.

    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:01AM (#38980685)

      I imagine storing a 5GB Truecrypt volume would result in ads for tinfoil hats :)?

      • I imagine storing a 5GB Truecrypt volume would result in ads for tinfoil hats :)?

        Maybe :-)

        But Google would probably cause each byte written to the volume to result in a 5GB upload, making it practically unusable...

        • Use encfs instead. Each file is encrypted separately.

          • ...then giving away the directory structure and size of each updated file? You know, you can tell a lot from those.
            • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

              by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @11:17AM (#38981631) Homepage

              ...then giving away the directory structure and size of each updated file? You know, you can tell a lot from those.

              You have the power to customize the amount of information that you give out according to your paranoia level and the amount of convenience you desire. Bitching about something you have complete control over won't help.

            • by mlts (1038732) *

              Both EncFS and PhonebookFS allow the use of chaff files. This way, an attacker would have no clue what is junk and what might be vital info.

              Another idea is to do what some people do is have a TrueCrypt volume on the cloud drive. Assuming the cloud software is smart enough to send only changes as opposed to completely sending the file, all they will see are encrypted deltas to offsets in the file. To help fool traffic analysis is easy -- do a bunch of random reads/writes, or just defragment the volume, an

        • by MBGMorden (803437)

          Dropbox doesn't work that way. Writing to a Truecrypt storage container doesn't touch the timestamp of the file, so it actually doesn't seem to ever update past the initial creation of the volume.

          For mine that I sync there I just setup a cron job to run a touch command on the container once per week. That forces it to upload to Dropbox at that point.

          • by Zebedeu (739988)

            Truecrypt has an option (off by default) to update the volume's timestamp when there are changes.
            It's a better system than periodically touching the file, because then your backup tool doesn't need to waste time looking for changes when there are none.

            I use it with a truecrypt volume which is then mirrored using rsync and it works just fine. No experience with Dropbox in that regard, but I suspect it'd work just as well.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by RazzleFrog (537054)

      Google, Apple, Microsoft - they all are doing the same thing. Why get paranoid over one more than the others?

    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pascal Sartoretti (454385) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:12AM (#38980833)

      More ways for Google to know what you're doing. Will they be scanning your documents? Checking the artist names of the songs you have there and target ads related to them?

      I don't understand why this has been flagged as "Flamebait", it is the central question for such a service : would Google analyze your documents to provide targeted advertisement, or would they treat your "GDrive" as a black box ?

      The former would not be acceptable for many persons (including me), but the latter would provide no upside for Google....

      • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:39AM (#38981149)

        I drives people to use Google more? The same could be said of Picasa or Docs. In Docs, in particular, Google does not appear to do anything with the contents of your documents (there's not even advertising on the Docs page), and that's a much easier situation for them than if they're providing storage.

        ...the latter would provide no upside for Google...

        That would imply that a service like Dropbox, which doesn't do advertising at all, could not possibly make money off of offering cloud storage, yet they do.

      • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by chrb (1083577) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:43AM (#38981203)

        would Google analyze your documents to provide targeted advertisement

        There is another big question - would they analyze your documents to prevent copyright infringement? I predict that, within a few years, Dropbox and the other big U.S. based services are going to be rejecting storage of files that match known pirated movies, video games etc. This is obviously one danger of using a de-duplicating cloud drive service. You could try using client-side encryption, but I have read that Dropbox either prohibit client-side encryption in their terms or drop customers that use it extensively, as it breaks their file de-duplicating model and they therefore have to provide many times more disk space and bandwidth for these customers.

        the latter would provide no upside for Google

        Sure it would. In the battle for mindshare, if a customer uses Google Drive, then they are inside the Google services sphere. If there is a service that Google doesn't offer, then some customers are going to go elsewhere, and the next time that customer wants to embrace some new service, they will be a bit less likely to choose Google.

        • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:57AM (#38981365)

          You could try using client-side encryption, but I have read that Dropbox either prohibit client-side encryption in their terms or drop customers that use it extensively, as it breaks their file de-duplicating model and they therefore have to provide many times more disk space and bandwidth for these customers.

          Nope, nothing in Dropboxes T&C's to limit you from using client-side encryption, and no instances reported of users being dropped from the service for anything other than blatant copyright infringement or illegal activities (virus or spam dissemination from the public folder for example).

          I use TrueCrypt extensively with my Dropbox, have done for several years now - its a 40GB container which gets regularly altered as I do a lot of stuff inside of it. It has never earned me any contact from the Dropbox team, and indeed the team do recommend using such tools on the forums from time to time.

          Your concerns with Dropbox are very wide of the mark, currently.

        • by mlts (1038732) *

          Nothing in DB's EULA about encryption. They even have mention of using TC volumes and notes about sparse files not being supported.

          Its mind-blowingly obvious that I use TC containers (with the .tc extension), so if it were an issue, I'd well have been notified and/or kicked off DB ages ago.

          That doesn't mean that it may happen in the future, but as of today, nothing wrong with storing encrypted volumes, because one is paying for that.

    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:29AM (#38981019) Homepage
      Personally, I'm happy paying for monthly hosting services that allow me to just have proper WebDav, SSH, or FTP access to storage space. This type of technology is much more accessible. You can do the same thing with rsync and ssh as you can do with DropBox. Plus a system that relies on standard transfer protocols makes it much easier to switch providers whenever a better deal comes along. My hosting provider gives me 50 GB of storage to do with as I please. That's separate from the space I'm allowed to use for my website.
      • by b0bby (201198)

        You can do the same thing with rsync and ssh as you can do with DropBox.

        While I agree that you can do a lot with open protocols, Dropbox has its place. I mostly use it with Keepass; the Android version works well with dropbox, and I also use it for transferring epubs to Aldiko. Set it and forget it. If I had more complex needs it might be worth using a hosting service, but dropbox is pretty convenient for me.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        It's theoretically more accessible, but unless you have an interface on every device you want to access the data with, then it's not accessible at all. I'm sure you're fine with WebDAV or SSH, but most people just want an experience like Dropbox, where they can have a client on every device they own (phones, computers of all sizes, etc.), and don't need to mess around with anything to get it working.
      • by Zebedeu (739988)

        A private server + rsync may be a great setup, and one which I use myself, but it doesn't come even close to the functionality that Dropbox offers.

        With Dropbox you get two-way sync between all of your devices. They have clients for most platforms (including Linux) and the software quality is top notch (at least for the platforms I tried - Ubuntu, Android and Windows).
        Furthermore, you can easily share folders with other users and have everyone contribute to them. It's a great way to share vacation pictures,

    • by alcmaeon (684971)

      Woah, this is Slashdot, bitch! You don't talk down Google here. Google has a "don't be evil" policy, don'tcha know. Are you a heathen? Are you a non-believer, a Google-kafir?

      Seriously, though, you are absolutely right. What reason at all do people have for trusting Google? Google has demonstrated a consistent disregard for their own "principles" much less users' privacy. Google's entire business model is based on collecting, knowingly or not, information about users and selling it. Now that they are

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Nobody's holding a gun to your head to make you use this service, idiot.

      You're one of those people who never grew out of high school drama, aren't you?

    • by Danathar (267989)

      I assume you don't use google services.....or any other cloud provider for that matter as the same concerns would be with ALL of them.

  • encrypted files (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SETY (46845) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:59AM (#38980657)

    We need a "just works" encryption system for this, so google doesn't know what is stored.

    • Mozilla weave (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sakdoctor (1087155) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:39AM (#38981137) Homepage

      Mozilla weave (sync) is the only example I can think of, of this "cloud shit" done right.
      https://wiki.mozilla.org/Labs/Weave/Developer/Crypto [mozilla.org] ... crypto done right, and yet "it just works".

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        That is a lot like Hushmail's old Java-based system. The key gets generated in a Java applet running locally, and is only used to decrypt mail on the client end. Log out, said passphrase and unlocked private key get purged. This way, encrypted mail was inaccessable to anyone.

        However, if one skipped Java and used Javascript that allowed the key to be decrypted on the server, then Hushmail had the same amount of security as a normal E-mail provider.

      • Re:Mozilla weave (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ediron2 (246908) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @12:27PM (#38982729) Journal

        Mozilla weave (sync) is the only example I can think of, of this "cloud shit" done right.
        https://wiki.mozilla.org/Labs/Weave/Developer/Crypto [mozilla.org] ... crypto done right, and yet "it just works".

        Thanks for mentioning Weave -- it had slipped under my radar.

        Other cloud app's that show they're making trustable / secure cloud storage effort:

        PassPack (password mgmt, with fields encrypted locally by a key they never know. They also offer the underlying library for this as FOSS source code for anyone interested in working in a similar framework)

        LastPass (similar, doesn't isolate account info from data like PassPack)

        Hushmail used to have something similar.

        Several secure-storage tools will encrypt then push the encrypted content to either DropBox or some other storage point.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      No, we don't. Google makes money off of scanning documents for content. Anything that too easily breaks that business model will cause them to either abandon such services or seek alternate means of funding.

      I'm happy to go with a more complicated solution for keeping my stuff secret if it means that the idiots who can't figure it out are subsidizing the service.

    • What exactly about existing encryption tools doesn't "just work"? Do you want a big encrypt button that magically does it all without any intervention?
  • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @09:59AM (#38980663) Journal

    I thought Google Drive would be reserved for the self driving cars! ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can I get an account on an alternate TLD with a guaranty that my data won't be on an American server to protect it from American imperialism?

    Never mind then.

    • by Tridus (79566)

      If they won't offer this for business customers actually willing to pay for it, it seems highly unlikely they'll offer it in a free service.

    • by Troed (102527)

      You're looking for http://wuala.com/ [wuala.com]

      It's also a "cloud drive", but client-side encrypted (bye bye Dropbox) as well as hosted in Europe.

    • Didn't Slashdot recently run a story on this very offering by European companies?

      Such a reaction was predictable and understandable. Now we all get to wait and see how the loss of hosting profits for US companies compares to the gains for media companies. (And by profits, I mean lost business revenue along with increased costs.)

      Remember too, that customers of outsourcing services may now have more reason to select specifically non-US businesses.

  • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:03AM (#38980713)

    Who will trust their files to a .com located in the USA?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Q:

      Who will trust their files to a .com located in the USA?

      A:
      Everyone.

      Unfortunately.

    • Three of my websites are .com. I am located in the USA. Should I not trust my files to myself?

  • by bluec (1427065) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:06AM (#38980751)
    I wonder if this will also finally allow google apps for business domains to have centrally managed storage? Or will this still be tied to individual user accounts like the current storage facilities? The current scenario of tying storage to individual user accounts is a major oversight by google IMO.
  • Wow,...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:08AM (#38980767)

    Ooooh 5 Gigs!
    Microsoft for all of the bashing it takes gives 25 GB for free. It can be mounted like a network drive, etc.

  • by l_bratch (865693) <l_bratch@yahoo.co.uk> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:09AM (#38980783) Homepage

    But what if it rains?

  • by saltire sable (1197695) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:13AM (#38980841)

    If docs, pictures and music are covered, might as well call it Google Porn Drive.

  • Only 5gb? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:17AM (#38980885) Journal
    They'd have to offer me more than 5gb for free if they want me to give up my Dropbox.

    What with the recent Dropbox mobile app give-away, linking my account to Twitter, posting a spam tweet, deleting spam tweet, completing their 'training', getting a couple of friends to join... I have 8gb for free.

    If Google could match that 8gb and provide typical Google upload and download speeds, I would swap. Dropbox is too slow at time.

    As for privacy: what the fucking hell are you lot storing of free sites like this? Just stick MP3s, AVIs, MKVs, and MP4s on there. If you must store documents, encrypt.

    And that almost sounds like preaching to the choir. Something no one on here should be doing.
    • by bkaul01 (619795)
      And without doing any of that spamming, I have 25 GB for free on SkyDrive...
      • by alen (225700)

        and are there any apps with dropbox integration? there are lots of apps out there that have dropbox built in so you can automatically save data there without manually moving files. same with iCloud

    • Re:Only 5gb? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:24AM (#38980963)

      SkyDrive is 25 gigs without having to do any of the hoop-jumping you did to get extra Dropbox space. I still use Dropbox because, ironically, I think it hooks into the Windows UI much better than SkyDrive. Google likes to make a splash in this sort of thing, usually offering more space in order to tempt users of the existing services they're mimicking. My prediction is 50-100 gigs of space from Google.

    • I've used Dropbox since day one, and I've been a huge advocate for them over the years, but if Google offer better features for a similar cost, I'd certainly look into it.

      Dropbox has essentially stagnated over the past two years, with few relevant features being offered for either the desktop or mobile clients, and the most recent feature (after nearly a year of nothing) has been something that no one was asking for and makes little sense for the desktop client.

      They've also made other mistakes over the past

    • by chrb (1083577)
      The 5GB number is just a guess from the article based on Google's existing Apps storage offers. Likewise, the idea that they will offer 20GB for $5/year is just a guess:

      Google already offers additional storage space for Docs, Gmail, and Picasa at very competitive prices, starting at $5 per year for 20GB, or $20 per year for 80GB. In comparison, Dropbox is $9.99 per month for 50GB, SugarSync is $4.99 per month for 30GB, and Box.net is $9.99 per month for just 25GB. In short, Google is 10 times cheaper than the competition. There’s no confirmation that Google Drive will use the same pricing structure, but in all likelihood it will.

  • Redundant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grizzley9 (1407005) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:21AM (#38980931)
    For pics and videos you have Google+/Picasa web albums and with G+ it's near unlimited space for normal size things. For documents there's Google Docs, as mentioned. What else do you need? Are they going to unify this into a single space or create a Carbonite type backup system? It seems like they already have a "Google Drive", it's just slightly broken up into separate services that enhance the features of the content.

    I welcome it, just wonder about usage. I have a SkyDrive acct with 25GB free that I hardly use. Perhaps this is more oriented towards their Google Apps business accounts.
    • by fleeped (1945926)
      In the same way you have separate applications to access images, docs, etc, you could have another google service to access a filesystem.
      Now if Google Drive has extra access to your Picasa/Docs/Pages stuff and have them properly integrated, now that would be cool!
      Given the usual quality of new google services though, it will probably be messy.
    • The problem is, none of those Google services currently syncs files between systems - I have things locally which will never be part of the Google services provided, and yet Dropbox allows me to sync them between systems practically seamlessly. Thats the hole in the services provided by Google, and thats what any new Google Drive service will fill - syncing of files.

      And if you look at Dropbox, there is a huge demand for such a service - especially if it has Google Docs integration (a often requested featur

  • by eno2001 (527078) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:24AM (#38980967) Homepage Journal

    GoogleFS on top of FUSE in Linux has allowed mounting the space that you store Google docs in for quite some time. This whole time I kept wondering, "why isn't anyone writing a GUI for this for Windows and Mac users" so they're not left out in the cold. (Not entirely true with Mac users as FUSE works there too)

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I imagine it's because that writing a file system driver is extremely complicated in Windows. Last time I looked there wasn't even a good solution for reading EXT2 formatted drives (though one may exist now). I'm not sure if there are technological limitations in Windows for writing file system drivers, but it seems that their must be, simply by the lack of any. The solutions i've seen for reading and writing to other formats seem to all be utilities that read the raw data, and don't allow you to actually
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Try Ext2Fsd - http://www.ext2fsd.com/ - I've been using it to read/write my ext3 volumes in Windows for years. It works just fine in 64-bit Windows 7, too. (Though it doesn't have journaling support, so it effectively writes both ext2 and ext3 volumes as ext2. But this doesn't corrupt the drive.) Since I dual-boot to Linux most of the time, the FS gets checked every couple of weeks just in case. I've never had a problem with it.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Then mount EncFS on top of that and you have encryption, too. Windows has even more to do to catch up.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:37AM (#38981125)

    Google has a habit of killing services it doesn't believe in. That's (moderately) ok for a service like Wave, or even Google Health. It's not so good for a cloud storage service, where long-term availability is very much a requirement.

  • by slasho81 (455509) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @10:46AM (#38981241)
    Wouldn't it be cool if Google Drive launched on April 1st with an announcement of 1000GB of free online storage? Google can pull this off.
    Google got so much respect (and many users) for taking it to the next level with GMail and not just doing another me-too with its email service.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      How is GMail not just another me-too email service? Because of the targeted ads?

      • Because Google offered 10x the storage and 1/1,000,000 of the spam of the competition at the time. Of course hotmail, and yahoo bumped their storage, but that was after gmail was cleaning their clocks.

  • I'll have to admit that Google sometimes seems to have good ideas but they lack that final step to make them great services. Case in point the different ways one can upload information to Google's current services but the lack of some "unified" cloud storage. However, I don't blame them one bit with as acrimonious as copyright holding groups have become with online storage.

    I'm sure that the total features, like sharing for example, will be lacking to say the best. There again, I would have to question
  • And given Google's privacy policies, encryption is clearly well justified.

  • but for some reason it has never offered a unified Google Drive

    Google doesn't want to suffer the fate of Megaupload.

  • Never mind all your fears about Google checking out the files you upload, they'll probably discontinue this new "Google Drive" service in a few months, like almost all of their other services.

  • by DdJ (10790) on Thursday February 09, 2012 @01:35PM (#38983955) Homepage Journal

    I'm confused ... isn't Google Docs already this?

    I'm already using it this way, using it as an arbitrary file store, from my desktop via the browser and on my iOS devices via multiple applications like "GoodReader".

    The article didn't give me an idea of what they're adding. Transparent background sync with local filesystem? Standards-compliant WebDAV access?

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