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Google Drive for Genealogy

 

Online storage is popular with genealogists who want to keep and share their research ‘in the cloud’. On 24 April 2012 Google launched a new service called Google Drive. It allows users to store and access files online. The service is similar to Dropbox, but with a distinctive twist. Google offers different features and a lower price. This article discusses this new service, which is likely to become very popular with genealogists.

Online storage is the ability to store files and data on a remote server that can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection. More formally called cloud computing, it allows users to synchronize documents across multiple operating systems and browsers. It also allows people to easy share and collaborate on various projects such as building family trees. Cloud computing has several advantages over storing genealogy data on a desktop computer.

Google has jumped into the cloud computing game with the launch of Google Drive. The short video below introduces the service.

 

How Drive Works

In a nutshell, Google Drive works as follows:

• The service provides a single place for users to store many different types of files. This includes such things as documents, spreadsheets, pdf files and photographs. In total, Drive claims to be able to open 30 different kinds of files.

• Drive syncs across various computer platforms (such as PCs, Macs and mobile handsets) as well as across different geographic locations. For example, changes made to a document within Drive by a user on a Mac in New York City can be seen almost instantaneously by another user on a PC in London.

• The information contained in personal files that are stored in Drive can be indexed and searched. For example, Google can use optical character recognition to search a pdf of a scanned newspaper article. This can be useful feature for any genealogist who has amassed a collection of newspaper obituaries.

Alabama newspaper 1913

A properly scanned pdf file of an old newspaper using Optical Character Recognition can be indexed and searched using Google Drive.

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