Google appears to be headed down the road toward free online storage services in the near future, based on recent comments made to analysts about wanting to "store 100 percent" of consumers' stuff. The GDrive has been rumored to be in the works for months, but now it appears that these rumors — unlike the long-rumored Google OS — actually have some legs.
The big question, of course, is how Google plans to monetize it? It would be unlikely that Google would find a way to create an ad-supported network drive without over-complicating the process of making it easily-accessible in Windows (and probably Mac and Linux, too). The most likely scenario appears to be offering a free GDrive with a minimal amount of storage, say 3-5 GB, and then offering more storage (and possibly disc-based backups) for a fee.
Whatever the case may be, I'm looking forward to it. I regularly transfer files between different computers and use a variety of methods. Currently, my favorite is to use GMail Drive, which creates a virtual filesystem with a GMail account and makes that storage available via a network drive in Windows [I've put together an image gallery of GMail Drive]. This is a hack and not a Google product. One of its biggest limitations is that files are limited to 10 MB (the limitation of file attachments in GMail). Plus, it creates a cryptic-looking GMail message for every file that you drop in and it can get annoying to clutter up an inbox with that stuff. So I'd welcome a legit, full-fledged GDrive for storage.
Of course, there are a few options such as openomy that currently offer some free online storage. Using those are fine for transferring non-secure, non-critical files, but I wouldn't necessarily want to use them for backup or for transferring sensitive information. I feel much safer relegating my files to a free service run by a public company such as Google that doesn't want bad press from an outage or a security breech. There are also companies such as Xdrive that offer secure online storage for a fee ($10/month for 5GB for Xdrive), but that hasn't really appealed to me yet. I'm hoping that Google offers some significant online storage capabilities at a reasonable price with GDrive. If they do, I'll be one of the first in line to sign up.
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.