Online storage so cheap everything else looks expensive.
When Google released its long-awaited desktop syncing service for Gmail and Google Apps users last month the headlines focused on the bells and whistles. For example, Google Drive uses image and text recognition which lets users search for words and objects in pictures without having to convert or tag them first.
But Google brought more than technology to the table – it also brought scale. The cost of storage in Google Drive is so cheap it suddenly makes online backup services look very expensive by comparison.
For starters, Google more than doubled the amount of free storage offered by DropBox (5 GB compared to 2 GB). To store 100 GB on Google Drive costs just US$4.99 a month compared to US$19.99 for the DropBox’s Pro100 plan. Take it all the way up to 1 TB (1000 GB) and Google Drive costs US$49.99 a month.
As far as I can tell, this is the cheapest price to store 1 TB online anywhere. Even Amazon Web Services’ online storage platform, S3, charges US12.5c per GB or US$125 per TB a month. S3’s reduced redundancy storage, which is probably closer to what is offered by Google Drive, is US$90 per TB a month, but that’s still double the price.
While Amazon S3 is cheaper the more you store, you have to be up around the 4 petabyte-mark (4000 TB or 4,000,000 GB) before you get near Google Drive for value. It looks like Amazon has been making some hefty margins on its S3 storage given the extent to which it has been undercut by Google Drive.
At least it’s close. When you start comparing Google Drive to online backup services the price gap turns into a yawning chasm.
Mozy Online, owned by IT giant EMC, is one of the most popular cloud backup services. It charges US$39.99 a month to store 100 GB and US$379.99 a month to store 1 TB – eight times the price of Google Drive. (Prices are slightly cheaper if you sign up for one or two years.)
Carbonite’s small business plan offers 100 GB for US$599 a year, 10 times Google Drive’s cost. 1TB costs US$1044 a year, or just over double Google Drive.
Competitors CrashPlan and BackBlaze have unlimited backup plans which will cushion them against the impact of Google Drive. However, it’s worth noting that the 1 TB plan on CrashPlan Pro costs US$275 per month on one computer, five and a half times Google Drive’s price.
It is hard to see how FTP-type online services such as YouSendIt will survive against Google Drive, DropBox and Microsoft SkyDrive. YouSendIt charges US$9.99 a month for 5 GB of storage – double the price for one-twentieth the storage (100 GB) on Google Drive.
It’s worth pointing out that file-syncing services such as Google Drive are very different to online backup services which retain multiple versions of your files. If you delete a file in Google Drive or DropBox it will disappear from the cloud and other registered devices and computers. Backup services give you many more opportunities to recover deleted data.
Even so, expect dramatic falls in the cost of online backup services and consequently a greater takeup. Google Drive storage is not just undercutting other online services, it’s cheaper than network-attached storage and getting close to the external hard drive. Hardware vendors, you’re on notice.