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What is Google Cloud Storage?

Google Cloud Storage
(Image credit: Google)

Google is a major player in providing cloud storage for individuals and businesses. All of the world’s 2.5 billion Android devices have access to Google cloud storage through Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. Plus, businesses using G Suite get unlimited Drive cloud storage.

There’s no public data on just how many servers Google has to manage all this data, but a 2016 estimate placed the number at 2.5 million. In any case, the search and storage giant probably has the infrastructure to handle tens of billions of gigabytes of data. 

Meet Google One

Most users turn to Google because of its generous free cloud storage offering and the web tools like Gmail and Google Photos that rely on it. But if you’re on the cusp of exceeding the 15 GB limit for a free Google account, you’ll be excited to know about Google One. Introduced in 2018, Google One is a subscription service that offers additional cloud storage space without signing up for a full G Suite plan.

With Google One, you can increase your cloud storage limit from 15 GB to 100 GB for just $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. A 2 TB plan costs $9.99 per month, and there are plan options ranging up to 30 TB of storage space.

The only catch here is that uploading massive amounts of data to Google can be excruciatingly slow. Most broadband users achieve upload speeds of less than 2 Mbps—so filling up 1 TB of storage will take more than a month of continuous file transfer. Uploading 30 TB of data can take so long as to make such a large storage plan useless.

That said, you do get some other benefits from a Google One membership. You can invite up to five family members to your plan and everyone gets their own private cloud space. Google One also comes with priority access to Google’s tech support experts. Plans for 2 TB of storage or more also come with a 10% rebate when you buy apps through the Google Play store.

 The “other” Google Cloud Storage 

While Google One is aimed at consumers and businesses using G Suite, Google also offers cloud infrastructure for enterprise-scale businesses. Google Cloud Storage directly competes with platforms like Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure, although as of 2020 Google only controls an estimated 4% of the public cloud market.

Google Cloud Storage can be extremely cheap, especially if you don’t need frequent access to your stored data. Standard storage costs $2.60 per month for 100 GB. But that same 100 GB of cloud storage drops to just $0.40 per month if you place it in one of Google’s archive servers. With Google Cloud Storage, you can configure your data settings so that files automatically move between high- and low-cost storage classes based on criteria like age and version.

Another advantage to Google Cloud Storage is that you get to choose where your data is stored. Google’s servers are spread across 23 regions and more than 200 countries. You get to specify where your data is stored and how many redundant copies are kept across different regions.

It’s also worth noting that Google Cloud Storage partners with a number of global security and digital infrastructure firms. For example, you can use Iron Mountain or Zadara Storage to securely transfer physical assets like tape and hard disks to Google’s servers around the world. Or, you can work with Google partners Acronis and Veritas to safeguard your data against losses and to mine it for additional business insights.

Keep in mind that for some businesses, G Suite may make more sense for commercial-scale storage than Google Cloud Storage. A Business plan costs just $12 per user per month and comes with unlimited cloud storage. You don’t get quite the same flexibility in choosing how your data is stored, but you also don’t have to worry about nearline versus cold storage—all data stored in Drive is instantly accessible. So, a G Suite plan can be an attractive option for saving time and money in the long run.