Google plans to challenge Dropbox with cloud-sync service: report

Rumors have been circulating about a Google cloud-storage service that would give easy access to media wherever there's an Internet connection. Now, a new report suggests that Google is planning to launch the service in just a few weeks.

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    A giant Google banner is hung on a building in Athens, Greece. New rumors suggest Google is planning to launch a cloud-storage service similar to Dropbox.
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Quick: picture a web service that gives you easy access to your files and media, wherever you are. You can upload your stuff to a server and pull it down to as many devices as you want, anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Sound familiar? That’s the model behind services such as Dropbox, Box.net, and Windows Live SkyDrive. But according to a new report, Google will soon muscle in on the cloud-storage turf with its own service.

The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter," reported Thursday that Google is preparing to launch a long-rumored service called "Drive" sometime in the next few weeks or months. Why use Drive over an existing service? Well, assuming you already have a Google account, you probably already have a lot of photos, documents, and other media stored on Google's servers. Drive would give you one-stop access to all your files, wherever you have an Internet connection.

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To be fair, Google’s other services already offer a fragmented version of cloud syncing. Take a picture on your Android smart phone, for example, and Google can automatically upload it to its Picasa photo service, where it's held in a private album until you decide to publish it. Google Docs offers an easy way to keep documents in the cloud -- in fact, you never need to download a local copy if you don't want to. (Google also gave users the ability, back in 2010, to upload any kind of media to Google Docs, so it can already function as a catchall backup service, albeit in a hacky sort of way.)

But Drive would, at least according to the rumors, be a smoother, all-encompassing solution for this sort of thing. Rather than have to hunt in the service associated with the file type you're looking for (Docs for documents, Picasa for photos, etc.), all your stuff just lives in the cloud, held in one area. The Journal says users will be able to store a few gigabytes of data on Google's servers for free, with inexpensive paid options for larger capacities.

No word yet on whether there will be a desktop client for the service. Dropbox uses a model in which a folder lives on your desktop and files placed into it are automatically synced to the cloud. Apple’s iCloud service is designed in a similar way. But given Google’s penchant for web apps, it seems likely that Drive would be a platform-agnostic, fully online service.

Readers, what do you think about all this? Would you use Drive, or are you already happy with another service? Let us know in the comments.

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter.

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