Google announced an upgrade to their Google Docs service earlier this month, a company blog post also mentioned several third-party applications which can help make the transition to the online service easier. With these apps, you can transfer and synchronize your local files to Google Docs without having to upload them one-by-one. But which application is right for you?When
We took a look at the options Google suggested and have summarized the features, drawbacks and pricing information below. In addition, we also reviewed one other application not specifically mentioned in the Google blog post that may be of use to those moving to the cloud-based service.
1. Memeo Connect for Google Apps
Memeo Connect is a desktop application available for both Mac and PC (XP and higher) which lets you view files on both your desktop and within Google Docs. In the software program, files and folders already online are downloaded to your computer. Local files not yet online can then be moved to the appropriate Google Docs folder via drag-and-drop. The service is relatively simple to use as it presents your documents in an easy-to-navigate window while also incorporating Google's online features like starred files and shared folders.
One major drawback to Memeo Connect is that there's no automatic synchronization option. That means you can't monitor a local folder or folders for new files or changes and then have those documents seamlessly synced to Google's online service. This feature should arrive in a future update, however, so don't let its lack of inclusion be a deal breaker for you if the service fulfills all your other needs.
For personal users of Google Docs, the biggest drawback to Memeo is that the service is only available to users of Google Apps Premier edition, a business-level version of the service which also offers calendaring, groups, Web site creation tools, and video sharing to corporate users for $50 per user per year. Memeo Connect itself costs an additional $9/year.
Syncplicity allows a Google Docs user the ability to access, manage, sync, share, and backup their files online. The downloadable software program seamlessly integrates with Windows Explorer for file management purposes. (The Mac software beta program was discontinued in July of last year but the company tells us they're working on an entirely new version right now.) The Explorer integration is a decidedly helpful feature for those who don't want to change the way they already work.
In addition, unlike Memeo Connect, automatic synchronization is possible. And that synchronization isn't only with Google Docs - the software can also sync files to its own website as well as other computers running the Syncplicity software. That means your files are not only available on other machines, they're backed up in multiple places online too. Another benefit to Syncplicity's service is its "restore" feature which lets you undelete files using their Web application. Those accidentally deleted files are immediately restored to your PC's hard drive with a click of a button.
Syncplicity is available in multiple versions for anyone using Google Docs. A free personal edition provides 2 GB of online storage for up to 2 computers while a $15/month personal edition offers 50 GB of storage for up to 5 computers. Businesses can sign up for a separate plan which starts at $45/month for 3 users and goes up from there.
Offisync is a Microsoft Office plugin which integrates Google Docs directly within your Office software. (See our earlier review here). This is useful for those who only want to upload specific files to Google Docs instead of automatically syncing entire folders. Once installed, the plugin adds an additional menu to Office's software (either Office 2003 or 2007) where you are provided with buttons which allow you to open, save, search, collaborate, and email your Google Docs files.
The software works on Windows PCs and is available for personal users of Google Docs or Google Apps. An Enterprise version provides the same functionality to business users by providing integration with Google's website building software, Google Sites, a service which provides a simplified alternative to SharePoint.
With any one of the three tools above, you can easily transition from a desktop-based computing environment to one where your Office documents are created, managed, and maintained in the cloud. However, it's important to note that Google Docs isn't the only online office suite available. Companies like Zoho, Adobe, ThinkFree, and others also provide online alternatives to Microsoft Office. In addition, Microsoft itself recently launched its own Office Web Applications into beta.
If you're a user of any of the programs mentioned here, let us know about your experiences. Would you recommend one program over another? Are there features you would like to see added? Share your thoughts in the comments below.