August 17, 2012

Google Drive: Still not ready for Prime Time

Let’s sync some files

In my quest to find the perfect cloud syncing and storage service, I’ve been trying out all the big names (Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive). My current setup relies on storing all my data in my Dropbox folder and then backing this directory up locally.

Most recently I decided to give Google Drive a spin (caveat: I’ve only used it on OS X so far). For many, one of the most appealing reasons to use Google Drive is the pricing. $5/mo for 100GB and $10/mo for 200GB. For myself, I already use a lot of Google services so it made perfect sense to use Drive.

Slow Client

One of the major issues that I ran into right away was the speed at which Google Drive runs. Just indexing my home folder which contains approximately 20,000 files took several minutes. Even after the initial indexing, relaunching Google Drive still took several minutes to run through my directory. For comparison, subsequent Dropbox launches typically take no more than a few seconds to “catch up”.

Slow Uploads, Pegged CPU, Crashes

During the upload process I found that Google Drive was significantly slower than Dropbox uploading. The client had a tendency to crash every hour or two while uploading my files and my CPU fan seemed to be running at full tilt. For whatever reason, Google Drive is extremely resource intensive. Both SkyDrive and Dropbox upload for hours without my machine breaking a sweat.

Git Weirdness

As a developer, I have plenty of Git repos. Dropbox and SkyDrive handle these repos without any issues. With Google Drive, I found my repos becoming corrupted, files appearing to be modified when they weren’t, and even occasional ”could not sync” errors for files in the .git directory.

No Access For You!

While in the middle of using the Google Drive web interface, I began encountering 403 Forbidden errors. At one point the web interface was inaccessible for up to 30 minutes. I realize this may have been some random fluke when I was attempting to use the service, but it doesn’t look good when none of your files are accessible from the web.

File Deletion

A bit of an unexpected behavior for this one. With services such as Dropbox, file deletion is compared based on the last modification date. I had an outdated folder “Documents” on my Google Drive. I first quit the Google Drive client, deleted this folder from the web interface, copied my up to date “Documents” folder back into my Google Drive folder, and then fired up the client on my machine.  Dropbox’s behavior would be to sync the new “Documents” folder back into the system. Google Drive simply removed the new “Documents” folder from my machine.

Oh you want to leave?

After encountering all of these issues, I decided Google Drive wasn’t for me. I quickly removed all of the files that I had added to Google Drive and emptied my trash from the web interface. I then attempted to downgrade my storage back to the free 5GB plan so I was no longer paying for my extra storage. To my surprise, I still had 20GB+ of data storage used up by Drive. Searching around online, I found that even after removing files that they will still appear in the “All items” category. There is simply no other way to remove these files but by selecting them 500 at a time and deleting them. With 20,000+ files this took a considerable amount of time. Finally after doing this I could empty my trash again and downgrade my account.

Dropbox, you’re all mine

As much as I want Google Drive to be a great alternative to Dropbox, it’s still far from the polish that makes Dropbox so good. I’m always willing to give services another shot, but for now I’ll be sticking with Dropbox. Oh and did I mention that Dropbox just doubled all of their storage plans for free? $10/mo for 100GB of storage makes it that much more appealing.

© Eric Barch 2023