Google Docs users now will have access to 1 free gigabyte of storage in the online suite of word processing, spreadsheets, and other commonly-used programs, and each file can be as large as 250 megabytes.
Google already offered unlimited storage for files that were automatically converted into the Docs format. With the change, Google Docs also will store files in their original format, and only those will count toward the limit.
It’s the latest step in Google’s crusade to make it easier, cheaper, and more convenient to store information in its data centers instead of on individual computers in homes, schools, and offices. This remote method of storage has become known as “cloud computing.”
But Vijay Bangaru, Google Docs product manager, said that the upgrade is not the rumored cloud service storage known as the “G drive.”
Technology enthusiasts have long pondered the existence and unveiling of the G drive, which is rumored to be a complete remote storage service. In fact, many internet news outlets reporting on Google’s increased Docs storage capacity wondered if this might be the beginning of G-drive’s appearance.
Bangaru said the upgrade is a “natural extension and progression” of Google Docs’ path.
Bangaru posted on Google’s student blog that the increased storage capacity and new types of accepted files mean students (and educators) don’t have to download presentations or other important files to a flash drive and also eMail files to their own eMail address.
Group collaboration can be sticky when one group member makes edits to a project and sends out an updated file to other group members.
Combined with shared folders on Google Docs, collaboration should be simpler for students, he said.
“For example, if you are in a club or PTA working on large graphic files for posters or a newsletter, you can upload them to a shared folder for collaborators to view, download, and print,” Bangaru blogged.
“It also means that students can’t claim that the dog ate their homework or their flash drive,” ZDNet education blogger Christopher Dawson wrote. “While students are already storing essays, presentations, and the like in Docs, now they can store images, web sites, zip files, CAD drawings, whatever, and share them with peers and instructors.”
As smart phones become more capable of handling files and come equipped with a variety of applications, “you have quite a platform for students and teachers to access any data, anytime, anywhere,” Dawson added.
Google and Microsoft Corp. have battled in recent months over student and education customers with an offering of free programs and services designed for anytime, anywhere access.
Microsoft has been fighting back with its own cloud-computing products, including a service called SkyDrive that offers 25 gigabytes of free storage. Although that’s 25 times as generous as Google’s service, SkyDrive can’t store individual files larger than 50 megabytes, one-fifth the limit now imposed by Google Docs.
Those needing more Docs space can buy it at prices ranging from $17 annually for an extra 5 gigabytes to $14,000 annually for an extra 4,000 gigabytes.
Subscribers to Google’s $50-a-year premium Docs service will continue to get more advanced features.
The increased capacity will be phased in by the end of the month, Google said.
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