Tech Luv Thursday: Dropbox vs. Google / #tech / #cloud / #storage

Hello and welcome to another edition of Tech Luv Thursday! This morning, I’m talking about Dropbox vs. Google Drive. First off, let’s talk a little bit about what these apps do and why I picked them.

What Is This and Why Do I Need It?

Have you ever hopped on Facebook and found out that one of your friends had terrible computer problems over the weekend? So bad, in fact, that he or she lost everything. All of their work. Talk about devastating. If you’re a writer, for example, that could mean the loss of manuscripts, research, hours of work. Whenever I read these posts, I feel bad for the person, but I can’t help but think: “Why the heck weren’t they backing their stuff up?”

Technology is constantly changing. There is new software released daily, a constant barrage of apps made available. What we use our computers for is always in flux, however, your computer (unless you have it upgraded) stays the same, a snapshot in time. The combination of new technology, wear and tear, and the files you store on your machine can lead to machine issues. What does that mean?

Always have a back up!!

What we use our computers for is always in flux, however, your computer (unless you have it upgraded) stays the same, a snapshot in time.

Solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive offer quick back-up solutions for those most important files. Just upload or drag and drop if you install the app to your machine.

What the Heck Is a Cloud?

Ha. Did you think I was talking about the weather? No, tools like Dropbox and Google Drive are considered Cloud Storage Solutions. Think of it this way. Your data is stored separate from everything else–up on a cloud so-to-speak. If your hard drive crashes, any data that you’ve saved to the cloud will be protected. The best part? You’ll be able to access the files from any computer with an Internet connection. Both of these solutions have viable free offerings, which means you’ll get plenty of space for no money.

Dropbox

I’ve been using Dropbox almost since I started writing. You can choose to either access Dropbox from the Internet through your browser or via the app. Apps are available for almost every techie out there.

Pros:

  • Dropbox App On a Mac
    Dropbox App On a Mac

    Easy Setup. One visit to Dropbox.com and you can choose to either start saving to the web or download the app. Quick and easy.

  • Reliability. In ten years of use my files have always been available. Files haven’t disappeared or corrupted.
  • Sharing. You can share your files with others and even collaborate from a Dropbox folder.
  • Access. If you download the app for your Mac or PC Dropbox sets up a folder that you can move files in and out of. It’s as simple as moving files to your desktop.
  • Upload Limitations. Dropbox doesn’t limit the size of the files you can upload, only the amount of storage you’re allowed on its site–2 GB for the free version. Bonus: refer family and friends and you get more storage space when they join Dropbox.

Cons:

  • Sharing. Yes, you can share files easily. However, if you are sharing for non-tech-saavy folks, I often find that most people can’t figure out how to download the file. Perhaps it’s the folks I’m sending files to, like my mother-in-law, for example, but I’d wager that Dropbox’s suggestion for you to setup an account gets in the way. They also don’t get that they just have to save the file–there are no prompts to guide them.
  • Lag Time. In MAC, I’ve especially noticed this and it is a known issue. You add a file and ten minutes later it still hasn’t shown up on Dropbox. If you aren’t in a hurry, that’s not a big deal. If you are it slows you down.

Google Drive

Google Drive has been around in one form or another for awhile. We used to know it as Google Documents, but they later updated it to the trendy Google Drive. Like Dropbox, there is an app as well as an interface for your Internet browser.

Google Drive
Sharing With Google Drive

Pros:

  • Easy Setup. This is basically even easier than setting up Dropbox. If you have a Google account, you have Google Drive. It’s even accessible through the Gmail app.
  • Ease of Use. Basic apps like the Google version of Microsoft Office are built right into Google Drive, so you can create files direction within this storage solution. if you need a quick spreadsheet, for example, it doesn’t matter if you have Excel. Google Docs has a built-in spreadsheet app.
  • Sharing. Sharing is more intuitive on Drive. You just need to search for it. Click on the file you want to share and choose the Person+ option above to add your email. Addresses will pull in from your gmail contacts. Then the recipient will get an email with instructions.
  • Storage. Compared to Dropbox’s 2GB storage allotment, Drive’s 15GB space seems downright roomy. They do have a file size upload restriction of 10GB but hey, it’s 10 gig. It should do the job for most things unless you have tons of media.

Cons:

  • It’s Google. I recognize that many of you might shy away from Google because of the recent dialog about Google and it’s sharing of information with the US government, among others. Here’s something important to remember. If you have your data anywhere on-line, Google, the government, whomever, can view it. That includes your hangouts, on-line chats, Facebook posts–the Internet is private to a point. Now, are they viewing it? It depends on what you’re doing with your data. So, if your just backing up your word documents, writing, whatever, I wouldn’t let this be a hindrance. Both Google Drive and Dropbox use SSL Encryption to protect your data from the bad guys who’d love to sell it on-line. That’s the most important point.
  • Lag Time. There’s still a lag time. When loading files from the desktop app until they are available on other apps (your phone, tablet, other computers, etc.), however, it was much improved over Dropbox.
  • Revisions: Box Google Drive and Dropbox store previous revisions of your files. The downside, these revisions (of which Google Drive will store up to a 100) count toward your allowable storage space–with Dropbox they don’t.

If you have your data anywhere on-line, Google, the government, whomever, can view it. That includes your hangouts, on-line chats, Facebook posts–the Internet is private to a point. Now, are they viewing it? It depends on what you’re doing with your data.

Other Solutions

Now that we’ve taken the opportunity to review two of these solutions, what others are out there? The most common are:

  • Flash Drives. This is a small, handheld storage solution that you can take anywhere with you. They are cheap, ranging in price from $15-over $100. Flash drives can often contain several gigs of data. Now, if you want to use a flash drive or currently are, here’s the challenge. If you lose it, your house burns down, or you say have kids or buy a puppy, a flash drive can disappear like that! Bye, bye data.
  • External Hard Drives: These are substantially bigger than Flash Drives, usually clout the size of paperback or larger. They are also more expensive, usually running around the $99-$25 mark, however, they usually store more. Some of
  • them even running into multiple terabytes of data–that’s more than a gigabyte. As in a thousand times more. I use one of these in addition to Dropbox. On my mac I run a daily backup routine to my external hard drive and save those uber-important files to Dropbox.

If you lose it, your house burns down, or you say have kids or buy a puppy, a flash drive can disappear like that! Bye, bye data.

photo credit: brianjmatis via photopin cc

photo credit: brianjmatis via photopin cc

Backup Early and Often!

Both of these solutions (and the dozens of others out there that I didn’t get into today) offer viable solutions. For readers: Back-up blog posts, any ARCs that you haven’t loaded on your ereader, reviews and more. For writers, always get the most recent copies of your work into a backup solution.

If you’re looking for a rule of the day, here it is. Don’t wait until you have computer problems to backup. Do it now, today, and be prepared. You’ll be glad you did when your laptop starts making clicking sounds or you buy a Goldendoodle. Trust me on that last one!

Don’t wait until you have computer problems to backup. Do it now, today, and be prepared. You’ll be glad you did when your laptop starts making clicking sounds or you buy a Goldendoodle. Trust me on that last one!