Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Online storage sucks but…

Online storage sucks but synchronised storage, now that’s what we’re all waiting for…

So blogger Corsin Carmichel found evidence of Google’s much anticipated GDrive project, which apparently is codenamed Platypus (go Aussie!). You can check out the screen shot he stumbled across here.

People are calling GDrive an online file system. I don’t think it is. Let’s take a look at what the page says:

Backup. If you lose your computer, grab a new one and reinstall Platypus. Your files will be on your new machine in minutes.
Sync. Keep all your machines synchronized, even if they run different operating systems.

Local IO speeds. Open and save as quickly as you could if you were accessing them from your C: drive.

If this were online storage it would say, your files would be accessible on your machine. It doesn’t, it says, your files are ON your machine. It says your machines are SYNCHRONISED and open and save as quickly as your C:Drive

GDrive, I believe, will be an online mirror of your files, that replicate a virtual drive on your hard disk. This is the online/offline future I’ve talked about a number of times before.

If this is what GDrive is, IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING.

As Squash readers will know I’ve put just about every online application through a test drive at one time or another because I fundamentally believe in an online, thin client future. My Ajax Challenge was to see how long I could go without loading a single piece of desktop software onto my computer. After a while, it wore me down and I relented downloaded Open Office because too often I couldn’t get an internet connection or it was too slow.

I believe Google recognise this limitation. Hence their partnerships with the Open Office group and also the Firefox developers. It doesn’t make sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater and abandon desktop applications all together.

I’ve tried a good number of online storage systems too and the problem is I don’t have the discipline to do it, and I don’t want to have to go onto the internet to drag files that I could more quickly and easily access from my hard drive.

What I really want is to mirror the files that I have on my hard drive, onto an online file system. I then have the option to either download files straight from the server if I’m at a public terminal or to synchronise to a second or third machine I might commonly use.

Ironically, I think it will be this form of offline file system that will make online applications work.

I’ve posted before on the wonders of Google Spreadsheet. It’s THE best collaborative tool I’ve EVER used for ad hoc collaborative projects (and let’s face it thats the nature of these things). But it kills me when I’m using my laptop and I don’t have internet access and I can’t get to the files.

However, if my Google Spreadsheet documents save to my GDrive, which then synchronises itself with my laptop, so that I can then open the files in Open Office, save then and then when I reconnect the spreadsheet on GDrive updates, then that’s where this gets very interesting.

Synchronisation is gold, people. I hope thats what GDrive is going to deliver.

Oh, and I thought I might mention. I had pretty much given up on both Writely and Zoho Writer because of the above limitations and because unlike Google Spreadsheet, they weren’t truly collaborative because two people weren’t able to edit the document at the same time.

Zoho Writer now has fixed that issue. Two or more users can colloborate on a document, which it does by locking off a paragraph someone else is working on, rather than the file itself. Like Google Spreadsheet’s collaborative capabilities it makes a world of difference.

Simultaneous collaboration + Online/Offline = Squash in computing heaven

Filed under: Uncategorized

9 Responses

  1. Wayne Scott says:

    I agree 100% that gdrive could be really important if
    it interacts with other online applications nicely.

    I should mention a couple other projects I have used
    that relate to this entry.

    * FolderShare. It is limited, but it does do a nice
    job of allowing drives to be synced between multiple
    computers.

    * Gobby. A simple collaborative editor that allows
    multiple people to edit the same textfile
    simulatinously. Really cool.

    The main thing the above are missing is that they don’t
    have an online side that can interact with online
    applications.

  2. Jon Smirl says:

    Turn the problem around. The master copy of your files is on the remote server where they are ensured of backup. The copies on your local machine are a cache of the the remote state.

    http://fedora.redhat.com/projects/stateless/

    This model will work to restore your complete system on Linux. Windows has problems since it stores your hardware configuration in the registry. On Windows you will need apply this only to specific directories.

    Local IO speeds are achieved by caching writes on the local hard disk and then spooling them off to the remote server.

    When all of your files end up back at Google they compute a hash which lets them identify duplicate files between users. There is no need for them to store 100M copies of Windows.

    The technology is a variation on the Bit Torrent concept except that Google owns all of the servers.

  3. staycooldad says:

    Google wants to be becomes an information utility which is world-shaking if true.
    No wonder telcos want to make them pay for net access!

  4. William Strunk says:

    HEY, IT’S OK, I’VE GOT A BRAIN AND DON”T NEED CAPS TO GET IT WHEN YOU THINK YOU ARE SAYING SOMETHING REALLY important.

  5. […] Some interesting articles here,here, hereand here. […]

  6. carlo153 says:

    I hope google will push through with its Gdrive, because everyone is already anticipating it. I was just wondering how big is its memory capacity. To think that you can store your files like an ordinary drive online is something to look forwar to. I agree with one of the comments that it shoul be compatible with other online applications.

  7. jerry4444 says:

    Dude, you should have tried DriveHQ.com. The Google concept is nothing new. The DriveHQ guys have implemented all the features and more into its FileManager 3.0 client. Local caching, drive mapping, FTP access, synchronization, automatic backup, folder encryption. I was completely impressed with what they have. Go take a look at: http://www.drivehq.com and look at its features and software.

  8. Dan says:

    Hi,, IBackup for Windows is another good online backup and storage service provider. None other than PC World has recently rated IBackup as the `best all-around backup service’ in a recent review of online backup services.

    IBackup for Windows can backup, restore, and schedule both backups and restores of data. With IBackup for Windows version 9.4.7 or higher, you can backup open files. The big thing about IBackup is that one of their applications called IDrive. IDrive can map your online IBackup account as a local drive on your computer and you can then drag-and-drop, open, edit and save files in it, as if they were on your computer. To work with files like Access, Act! or Filemaker, IDrive Multimedia is the recommended application. Store your multimedia files with IDrive Multimedia.

    IBackup can perform one-way syncing of files or folders from your local computer to the IBackup account. Snapshots allow the user to see files stored in the IBackup account during the previous days. IBackup for Quicken performs near real time backup of your recently modified ‘Quicken/ QuickBooks’ files to your IBackup account.

    They have a browser-based application called Webmanager that lets you create folders, webload files, rename, move, delete and share files or folders with others for collaborative access. Web-Manager can detect the presence of images in your online account and then display an image gallery. When you click on the image gallery link, you can view the thumbnails of images. All the images in a particular folder can be viewed with the help of an automated slide show.

    It has a unique feature called `Private Share’ with which you can share data with another IBackup user. Even though the user with whom you share data with can change the shared data, you can disable `private share’ anytime you want. Please note that IBackup is a trusted service to ensure that all your important data are safe and secure.

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