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• If you bring Microsoft Word or Excel documents into Drive, and then try to work on the files within Drive, Google will convert the documents to the equivalent word processor and spreadsheet programs found in Google Docs. If you allow Google to convert the documents, there will be no easy way to convert the documents back to Office format. This is Google’s less-than-subtle attempt to get people to use Google Docs. Most people who like Word and Excel will find this feature annoying and frustrating.

Microsoft recently launched a similar cloud service to Google Drive called SkyDrive. It can handle Word and Excel documents in their native format and it allows you to create and edit these kinds of documents online without any attempt to convert them to another format. As an added bonus, Microsoft offers 7GB of free store compared to Google’s 5GB. SkyDrive currently only works on Windows machines although it has great connectivity through a variety of smartphones.


Comparison Between Drive and Dropbox

Google Drive offers three main advantages over Dropbox:

• Documents can easily be created and manipulated directly in Google Drive. Dropbox is primarily limited to just storing documents. The manipulation of documents in Dropbox has to be done off-line. For many people, this is not an issue since they might prefer to edit documents on their own desktop with the software of their choice instead of being pushed towards using the Google Docs suite in Drive.

• Google uses its search engine to search personal documents stored in Google Drive. Dropbox documents can only be searched using third-party applications. This could potentially be important to genealogists. It is especially useful for people storing pdf files of scanned newspaper articles or old books.

quill and pen
Cloud storage can help take your genealogy to the next level.

• Google Drive offers more storage at a lower price. The service starts with 5GB of free space versus 2GB of free space on Dropbox. Additional storage is also cheaper on Google. An additional 100GB is $5/month with Google and $20/month with Dropbox. Incredibly, users can (for a fee) store up to 16 terabytes on Google Drive. Thisis 16,000GB, or the equivalent of about 32 home computer hard drives of 500GB each. Realistically, however, most people probably only need a couple of GB.

The field of online storage is starting to get crowded. In addition to Google Drive, Dropbox and SkyDrive there is also SugarSync, Apple iCloud and about ten other equivalent online services. They are all competing to store your personal information in the cloud in the hopes of capturing you as a future online customer.

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