Google Drive offers 5GB free, paid upgrades

Google officially announced that it is launching its anticipated Google Drive, an online storage locker that will let users store as much as 5GB of photos, documents, audio files, videos and more for free.

If you need more space, the company is offering upgrades: 25 GB for $2.49 a month, 100 GB for $4.99 a month or 1 TB for $49.99 a month. Those who upgrade their accounts will also get bumped up to 25GB of storage in Gmail.

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The pricing tier could be a blow to Dropbox, which offers 2GB of storage free, and then gives users the option of paying $10 or $20 a month to upgrade to 50GB or 100 GB of storage. It also matches the free 5GB offerings from companies Box.net and SugarSync, but offers far more storage in its upgrades, and for far cheaper.

The Google Drive has some features that will make it attractive. According to a company blog post, users will be able to look for text in their Google Drive by searching for keywords, thanks to the integration of Optical Character Recognition, meaning that any monster PDFs or scanned articles you put into the system should become searchable.

Users will be able to access the Google Drive from their Mac, PC or Android device, and the company is working on an iOS app. Google has also built collaboration tools into the Google Drive, taking a note from Google Docs which is “built right in” to Google Drive. Users will be able to work in real-time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations and have the option to receive notifications when there are comments on shared items.

The Google Drive launch had been expected last week, but it briefly took off a little earlier than expected, according to a report from TechCrunch. The news site reported that a version of a blog post announcing Google Drive appeared on the French version of the official Google blog, only to be taken down.

Google’s official blog post went up shortly after the TechCrunch report.

In the blog post, the company said that it’s also working with developers to add functionality to the Google Drive, such as the ability to send faxes, edit video or create Web site mock-ups — once these apps are developed, they will be available in Chrome’s Web store.

The Google Drive layout allows users to sort their files by date modified, activity, file type, visibility and more. It also gives users the option to view the contents of their drive in a list or thumbnail format.

Google Drive is rolling out to consumer and Apps accounts; to check whether it’s available for your account, head to http://drive.google.com/start.

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