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Google launched it’s integrated, cloud-storage service yesterday, offering 5 GB of space for free.

Yesterday drive.google.com went live and Google launched Drive, its cloud-storage service. The service is the late comer into the cloud storage market which already has big name contenders like Microsoft SkyDrive, Dropbox, and Amazon Cloud Drive. Cloud-storage services allow users to sync files from a desktop with a storage space in the cloud. The advantage to storing files in the cloud is that they’re available anywhere.

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The edge that Google Drive can offer is that it’s integrated with Google Docs. That means users don’t even have to open a third-party text editor or spreadsheet creator. They can simply get online, log onto their Google account, create and edit documents in Google Docs, and store them not only in the cloud, but also on your desktop.

Drive offers 5 GB of free storage, with an option to get more space in the cloud for a monthly fee. The upgrades available are 25 GB of storage space for $2.49/mo and 100 GB of storage space for $4.99/mo. If you purchase the first upgrade, your Gmail account will be upgraded as well, with 25 GB of space. Unfortunately, by upgrading to the second option, your Gmail inbox will still only increase to 25 GB of storage space. Finally, there is an upgrade option to increase your Drive cloud storage space to up to 1 TB, but that requires $49.99 monthly fee.

One great feature is optical character recognition (OCR). By implementing image recognition technology, Drive can search for words in .pdf documents and index them so when you use a search word to look through an entire folder, Drive is also able to look through the text of any .pdf documents in your synched folder and return that file in your search results.

Of course, Google has integrated this product with its social network Google Plus. After registering for Drive, if you sign into your Google Plus account and click on the camera icon to share a picture, a drop-down box will offer the option to share a photo “From Google Drive.” The new service also lets you add tags to your photos which are then searchable. The company said that it hopes to add Gmail integration to Drive in the near future (i.e. attaching files in your synched Drive folder to an email to send to someone else). In addition to the site yesterday, Google also launched the Android app that allows users to access the service from mobile devices.

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Most cloud-storage services that have come out offer all the same basic features, and it has become a game of optimizing user interfaces and how much free storage each company offers to new users. Dropbox offers 2.5 GB, and it was already pointed out that Google Drive offers 5 GB (as does Amazon Cloud Drive) but Microsoft’s SkyDrive hands out 7 GB of cloud storage space for free to every new user. But, astute analysts have pointed out that thus far, Drive is the most integrated of all the services on the market right now.

Unfortunately, not all of us have access to try Drive right now, and I say us because I am sadly in the group that has a button saying “Notify Me” instead of “Sign Up.” It would seem only natural that Google would roll out availability for the service in waves instead of all at once to lessen the shock to their servers. Google wrote an official blog post announcing Drive that also mentioned that many new features are planned for released in the coming months.

If you’re interested in reading more about up and coming cloud storage services, check out our blog post about Mozy’s foray into the online storage service market.