Google Drive: motivated by meanness

Google Drive
Is Google drive really what users want?

Hurrah for Google! Just six years after it was about to launch, Google Drive is finally about to launch!

I don't know about you, but I'm excited. At last I'll be able to store files in the cloud, enabling me to access them from anywhere. And not just that, but I'll be able to use them on tablets and on smartphones too. If it weren't for DropBoxSugarSynciCloudSkyDrive that'd be pretty mind-blowing.

Okay, okay, I'm being mean. But I can't help thinking that Google Drive's imminent appearance is motivated by meanness too.

Google Drive has been vapourware for years, and while Google never shipped it firms such as Dropbox got on with the job of creating elegant cloud syncing services that are real, that work, and that are loved by their users.

I bet Dropbox is in Sergey Brin's Enemies of the Internet list along with Facebook and Apple. I bet he sits there, imagining all those files, hidden from the watchful eyes of Google's spiders. "There is information on the internet we cannot crawl?" he shouts. "DropBox must die!"

Something like that, anyway.

Google Eggs, Google Basket

Even if you don't care for other sync services, there are reasons to think twice before trusting Google with yet another piece of your personal information.

Storing everything with one organisation, whether it's Google or anybody else, means that in the event of a privacy breach or law enforcement fishing expedition there's a lot of stuff about you being shared.

Less dramatically but probably more importantly, Google makes children cry.

Take Alex, for example. Alex was ten when Google killed all of his accounts: he created a Google Profile, and because Google accounts aren't supposed to be available to under-13s, all of his existing Google services were locked down.

As his dad explained, "Google is basically just going to delete his last two years of email messages (they don't offer any way to log in and export his messages), and plans to cut him off from his family until he turns 13. This is a kid who lives on the computer."

That's the problem with interlinked services. If you get shut out of one, you're often shut out of all of them -- and with Google services, it's easy to get shut out of them even if you're over 13. We saw that in the early days of Google+, when people using pseudonyms, business names or stage names found their accounts suspended.

It doesn't do it very often, but Google reserves the right to suspend a Google Account "from using a particular product or the entire Google Accounts system" if there is a violation of the Google Terms of Service, product-specific Terms of Service or product-specific policies, or "at any time, for any reason, with or without notice".

That's Google's prerogative, of course, but its guilty-until-proven-innocent approach to account suspension means I'm wary about putting too many Google eggs in the same Google basket.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.