Yuhnke Commentary: Things to consider before moving your files onto Google Drive

PHOENIX - Everyone expected it, everyone knew it was coming and this week Google officially entered the world of online cloud storage . Google Drive lets you store your digital "stuff" in the interwebs. Google is definitely not the first company to offer this service but when Google does something, they do it big. Should you shift your documents, photos and videos into the cloud? Maybe, but there are some things you should think about before you do.

Privacy

Is your information on Google Drive private? Theoretically, yes! It's as private as your personal e-mails are on Google Mail. If you have no problem trusting Gmail with your e-mail, then you shouldn't have a problem trusting Google Drive with your files. The expectations for someone putting personal documents on Google Drive may be different than someone posting highly secretive corporate documents for their job. In fact, you may want to check with your work's privacy policy before you use Google Drive to store work files.

Let me say that I don't think for a second that workers at Google are sitting around sifting through online files and peering at people's pictures and documents. I have to imagine Google has protections in place against that. None the less, just the simple thought of storing your files somewhere other than on your own hard drive may make some people uneasy.

Aside from the typical cloud storage privacy concerns, privacy advocates are buzzing this week about Google's terms of service. Some claim it gives Google ownership of your files when you upload them. Google claims otherwise. If you plan to go big on Google Drive it would be worth your time to read through the terms of service.

Control issues?

When you use the cloud, you are giving up some control to your own files. Sure, Google's servers are probably 500 times more reliable and secure than the hard drive in your PC but it's comforting to have something tangible with your stuff stored on it. If for some crazy reason Google's servers go down, you're out of luck. I think a locally stored back-up is always a good idea even if you use the cloud as your primary storage.

What Google giveth, Google taketh away

As with any online product, features and functions can be changed and/or taken away with little or no warning. As a large company that has millions of customers, it's not easy for Google to get away with it without the blogosphere blowing up but it's still possible. It's certainly something you should consider before you move your files over to the cloud.

Conclusion

In the end, the convenience of having access to your files no matter where you are may outweigh some of these concerns. In fact, not only do I use Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) as my main storage for personal documents, I'm also typing this blog in Google Drive right now. It works for me but you'll have to decide for yourself if it works for you.

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