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Google motors into cloud storage with Drive

Grey day for DropBox et al

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Google has thrown its hat into the cloud storage ring with the long-expected launch of Google Drive, an online vault integrated with Google Docs that allows sharing and collaboration online.

"Whether you’re working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a wedding with your fiancé or tracking a budget with roommates, you can do it in Drive. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond," said Google in a blog posting.

Everyone gets 5GB of storage free of charge, but there are paid options for the data-hungry. An upgrade to 25GB costs $2.49 a month, rising to $4.99 for 100GB and $44.95 for a terabyte. All paid plan subscribers also see their Gmail storage allocation rise to 25GB, which could prove handy for corporate customers.

To keep a handle on all the files chucked online, Google is promising its search tools will make finding that embarrassing photo or corporate document very easy. The Chocolate Factory is even building in optical character recognition to scan noon-text documents for keywords, although it isn't saying is how closely that technology resembles that it uses to serve up ads in its non-paid services.

Google's announcement is bad news for established specialists in the field like DropBox, not to mention Microsoft's SkyDrive service and Apple's iCloud. While 5Gb isn’t the best deal on the market, Google has got a long history of disruption in the area. The levels of storage it offered on Gmail shook up the email market and the company might be tempted to try a similar strategy for Drive. ®

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