OCT 18, 2021 / Google

Google’s cheaper cloud means better backup

Google recently slashed the prices on its Google Drive online storage service. When I say slashed, it’s hard to come up with a term that fits any more aptly.

Any Google user automatically gets 15GB of free online space irrespective of whether you choose to pay or not, so if you’ve got a gmail account or an Android phone or tablet, you’re already set for 15GB of space, though that’s also in use for any Google documents you’re already storing.

There was a time when 15GB was a lot of data, but it’s pretty easy to burn through that much storage with surprising ease these days, especially if you shoot a lot of photos or videos — or more mundanely, if you have lots of large data sets to store.

In the paid space, 100GB of storage a month used to cost US$4.99. Google now only wants $US1.99/month for the same quantity. 1TB of online storage was $US49.99 per month, and is now just $US9.99 per month, and for the real data hogs, 10TB of storage space will set you back a very reasonable $99.99/month, down from a hefty $US399.99/month.

To give those figures some context, competitor Dropbox currently charges $9.99/month for 100GB of space, $19.99/month for 200GB of space and $49.99/month for 500GB of storage. Google’s price cut is a serious attack on that kind of pricing.

You might be pondering what it is that you could possibly do with 1TB of online storage, let alone 10TB, but the answer is both quite powerful and equally mundane.

Backup. Yes, I know, some of you will have fallen asleep just at the mention of the word. Backup is boring, but backup is horribly, horribly neccessary, as anyone who’s ever lost a treasure trove of precious family photos, or vital business documents would be able to tell you.

The problem is that most people learn about backups through disasters, which is to say that they get burnt by a failing drive or stolen/destroyed laptop, and that’s a painful lesson to learn.

The benefit with cloud-based backup — and you’d still need an application to encrypt and store your data on Google’s servers, thought there are plenty around — is that you could restore your files from anywhere on the planet as long as you’ve got a connection.

There is a downside, and it can be a significant one. If you’ve got a large quantity of files to backup — say, a TB worth — it will take a very long time to actually perform that backup over anything but a full-speed fibre NBN connection, due to the lousy upload speeds on every other type of connection currently available in Australia. It’s the kind of backup job best set to run overnight — or over several nights.

But whatever you do, don’t ignore doing the backup, especially at these kinds of data storage prices.

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Alex Kidman
Tech Journalist