Controversial, no? After all, it’s very well known amongst tech circles that after DropBox the next best bet is Google Drive.
I write in scenes, then merge via a Python script into final documents/ebooks. Nice and easy, and has worked for ages. I store my documents in both SkyDrive and Google Drive (kept synced by Cloud HQ so there is always consistency).
So what went wrong?
I reinstalled OSX on my MacBook Air (I like to keep it fresh) and having switched emphasis to Google Drive I therefore installed the sync client and within a day had 26GB of synced files locally. At that point, just out of curiosity I decided to run the original Python script against the Google Docs scenes just to see if it could make any sense of them (I didn’t really expect it too, as I know they are in a proprietary format).
Danger, Will Robinson!
Opening the .gdoc files I discovered they are simply stubs containing links to the online versions. My locally synced backups are not backups at all. Should a Google Drive account go down or the files get corrupted/deleted/purged, all local backups of files in Google Docs own format are totally and absolutely useless!
This is incredibly dangerous, and to be honest I have no idea how any business could ever justify using such a system and hope to get past a competent audit once this fact is known.
Note that you can still download Google Docs manually (and in bulk) from the web interface and ask for them to be converted into Office files but given that the average user thinks they are already being synced locally for backup anyway this is not really the point.
For all the talk of Microsoft’s proprietary Office file formats, at least those files are actually physically copied locally by the SkyDrive sync client and can be opened by any number of third party tools too.
By comparison, Google has the ultimate vendor lock-in with not only a proprietary file format but one that, by default, isn’t even copied from their servers when synced. Don’t believe me? Open a local .gdoc file in notepad or vi and take a look. Then rethink any dependency on it.
“Don’t be evil” indeed, Google. I’m now back to the safe hands of Office Online and those ‘terrible’ Office file formats.
Seems I’m not the only one. This flaw in the sync has caused people to lose masses of files forever simply because when they sync files to their local drive they make the (understandable) assumption that the sync causes an identical local copy – you know, like the common definitions of syncing.
Not so. Read: http://googledrivesucks.com/ for one guy’s story along with Google’s response. If you search online there are more tales of woe.