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You don't know Docs from Drive: Google's productivity apps, explained

Christopher Null | July 8, 2014
Google's recent upgrades to Drive have made clear the company's going head-to-head with Microsoft on productivity services. Unfortunately, in its efforts to emulate the industry standard, Google's made its cloud-based apps every bit as Byzantine as Office365.

Google Apps for Business comprises a sprawling set of services (customized for use in groups) that includes everything described above under Google Drive, plus some additional tools. Most notable among them is the ability to set up your own email system (with your own domain), shared calendars, and video meetings and presentations via Google Hangouts. Many companies that adopt Google Apps for Business use it heavily for the email features, while the ability to collaborate on document creation and editing is almost an afterthought.

Subscribers can manage Google Apps for Business through a central tool, called Google Admin, where you add and delete approved users and devices and perform other basic maintenance.

Google Apps for Business is pretty cheap: $5 per user per month, or $50 per user per year as an annual plan. Google Apps for Business users get 30GB of total storage space each, double the free Google Drive limit, but if that's not enough, there's now...

Google Drive for Work

The latest addition to the Google Drive/Apps family is Google Drive for Work, which mostly amounts to an expansion of storage space for customers of Google Apps for Business.

The heart of the program is unlimited storage. For $10 per user per month (or $100 per user per year), Google lifts the 30GB per user cap. For companies with five or more paid users, there are no limits on the amount of storage space each user occupies, but if you have fewer than five, the cap remains at a spacious 1TB per user.

Google Drive for Work is being folded directly into the Google Apps for Business experience as a premium option, so don't be surprised if the name doesn't stick around. In fact, just a week after launch the service already has an alternate name — Google Apps Unlimited. You don't need to sign up for a separate service if you want to use it; it's available as an option on the Google Apps for Business pricing page during signup. (Existing Google Apps for Business users can also upgrade to the new plan at any time.)

In addition to the expanded storage feature, Google Drive for Work also adds improved security and manageability, such as the power to decide whether users can install the Google Drive Windows client on an individual basis. Google Drive for Work also includes a component called Google Vault (also known as Google Apps Vault), which lets you archive your company's email and web chat content for the amount of time that you set. This alone could be essential for certain businesses where data retention rules have to be followed.


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