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March 6, 2006

Is It Just Me?

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I joked last week that Google was on its way to world domination with the monetization of Google Base. Today they are one step closer. The blogosphere is reporting on speculation that Google may be introducing a virtual external hard drive nicknamed Google Drive, or GDrive, that will allow users to store all their information in one place — on the Google network.

The concept was introduced to the public (perhaps accidentally) during a PowerPoint presentation on Google Analyst Day. In slide 19 of the presentation Google harked to a future complete with ‘infinite storage, bandwidth and CPU power’. Extracts of the slides have been reproduced at linden.blogspot.com. The slides read in part:

"Store 100% of User Data With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including: emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc). As we move toward the "Store 100%" reality, the online copy of your data will become your Golden Copy and your local-machine copy serves more like a cache."

The GDrive service will provide users a universally accessible network share that spans across computers, operating systems and devices.

For many users storing all their data online in one place so that it can be easily accessed sounds like a dream. But the more paranoid users (myself included) will see one flaw: you will be storing all your data online, in one place, where it can be easily accessed. Enter: knot in my stomach. Would you trust Google with every file currently stored on your hard drive? Would you feel secure with all of this information sitting on a server somewhere? One more thing: Participating will also give Google access to all your personal information. How’s your stomach now?

I have to admit, the concept makes me nervous. I don’t know that I’d want all my personal information and files stored online. But, maybe unlimited storage and accessibility will take off like GMail. After all, having a backup copy to every one of your files is sure to come in handy, and most people do put a lot of trust in Google.

The question of how, or if, Google will make money from the service remains unanswered. One theory is that Google will offer a certain amount of free storage space, and then charge for unlimited storage space in the great Googlesphere. But what’s the going rate to charge someone for all their personal information?

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