Google has today announced a minor update to Google Drive that could make a big impact on a number of users. The update, which is available today for Rapid Release users and will be rolled out to the rest of the world over the next two weeks, changes how Google Drive handles duplicate files. Rather than simply allowing a duplicate document to reside next to the original, Google will start to deduplicate document files. The example given for the rationale behind the change is because many Drive customers use the service to download a file to their machine. Here, they will modify and edit the file before uploading it back into their Drive account. This results in multiple versions of the same file and this in turn can make it difficult for customers to recognize the latest version. However, Google Drive won't simply replace the old file but will instead merge the two documents and archive the old version within the document. It'll be available in the 'Previous Version' section. However, sometimes we may want to keep the original version as well as the new version and so because of this, there will be a new "Keep as separate file" option once the document has been uploaded to Drive. The Google apps team report that they will do something similar with folders.
In its most basic form, Google Drive is a free service that combines an online storage area with three core productivity applications: Docs, Sheets and Slides, as a word processor, spreadsheet manager and presentation manager respectively. New customers share their 15 GB Drive space allowance between Gmail and Google Drive, although files saved in the Google format do not use any of this allowance. Google Drive is available on a number of platforms but works especially well on the in-house Android and Chrome OS operating systems, as one might expect. For many customers, but not all, Google Drive and the companion application services can handle personal and even corporate productivity requirements.
For some customers, Google Drive's permanent (and persistent) revision history is for some users one of the more useful Drive features and it's great to see the team building on an already useful feature. Other productivity suites are available, such as Microsoft Office (also available for the Android platform) and Apple Pages (not available on Android), but the ability to seamlessly embed previous versions of a document is a very powerful feature. At this juncture, it appears that Google Drive's deduplicate functionality will only be available to documents, presentations and spreadsheets, although it may be made available for other file types in the coming weeks and months.