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Google unveils GDrive that's 'not the GDrive'

Storage for any file on Google Docs

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Google says it's not the fabled GDrive. But the company will soon roll out an update to Google Docs - its web-based file editor - that lets users upload and store files of any type.

In a Tuesday morning blog post, Google Docs project manager Vijay Bangaru said the update would appear on existing accounts "over the next few weeks." Naturally, the company touted the addition as an alternative to transporting files via email or USB drive.

"You’ll be able to backup large graphics files, RAW photos, ZIP archives and much more to the cloud," Bangaru's post reads. "More importantly, instead of carrying a USB drive, you can now use Google Docs as a more convenient option for accessing your files on different computers."

This does not mean that Google Docs will read any file. Editing and viewing is still limited to popular document, spreadsheet, and presentation file types, including .docx, .xlsx, .doc, .odt, xls, .ods, .ppt, .csv, .html, .txt, and .rtf. And there's a file-size limit: 250MB.

In March 2006, a Google PowerPoint presentation intended for industry analysts famously exposed a company plan to store "100% of User Data."

"With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc)," the presentation read, before pointing out that this sort of thing was already part of company projects known as GDrive, GDS, and Lighthouse.

Ever since then, rumors have swirled that the GDrive was on the horizon. In November 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was preparing an online storage service capable of housing all the files you now store on your own hard drive, saying it could be ready "a few months from now." And in January 2009, new evidence indicated that this sort of storage service would be rolled into Google Docs.

That's exactly what has happened. But speaking with Information Week, Bangaru says Google Docs' imminent update "is not the GDrive." Yes, just like the Nexus One is not the Googlephone.

No doubt, Google would like to distance itself from talk of storing "100% of User Data." But this Google Docs update jibes with a GDrive reference that turned up last January in a file used by Google's free software suite, Google Pack.

Naturally, users are under no obligation to use the service. They can upload as much or as little data as they like. But in the grand scheme of things, this does give Google access to more user data - something it's constantly striving for. Data is not only a means of making decisions at Google, it's a way of juicing its search results and targeting ads.

But that's not the party line. With its blog post, Google also said that its Google Docs update will facilitate collaboration, with users able to upload files of any type to its "shared folders," introduced in October last year. Meanwhile, business users paying $50 per year for Google Apps Premier Edition can do batch uploads via the Google Documents List Data API. And as discussed Tuesday morning on the Google Enterprise blog, various third-party developers are offering tools that do automatic file migration and syncing with Premier Edition.

All Google Docs users received 1GB of storage for free. Consumers can purchase additional space for $0.25 per GB per year, while Google Apps Premier Edition users can must pay $3.50 per GB per year (or €3.00 per GB per year in the EU). Premier Edition includes support and covers not only Google Docs, but Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Sites, and more. ®

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