Google launches Nearline offering cheap storage for lesser-used files

Some time ago, Amazon launched a new online storage service called “Glacier”, so named because it was designed with a view to act as “cold storage” for your files. Glacier offered cheaper storage for those files you just HAVE to keep online, but don’t have a need to access on a constant basis – such as backups. In a clear case of “anything you can do, I can do better”, Google have responded by launching their own similar service, known as Google Nearline.

Google Nearline is a new service to host historical data and files you don’t expect to use very often. For example, say you’re a student. You’ll probably want your latest essays and coursework, research notes and so on immediately accessible via Google Drive to work on as you need ready for the upcoming deadlines; but what those essays from a year ago or older that have long since been passed to your teachers or professors and marked? They might be worth keeping for later review or research, but you probably won’t be needing to read those very often any more, right? That’s what Nearline is for. It’s the kind of cloud storage that businesses often need, but ordinary people may not want, especially if it isn’t cheap.

Luckily, keeping things cheap is something Google has been very aggressive about recently. Back in March, the company slashed Drive storage pricing across the board, cutting the price of its 100GB Drive tier by more than half and lowering the cost per terabyte per month to just $10 USD. With Nearline, however, Google are allowing customers to fine-tune their spending and storage requirements to the exact penny if they so choose – the service charges by the gigabyte, at a rate of just a penny per GB per month.

Google Nearline also offers advantages in other areas, according to the company. One is in its speed – while services such as the aforementioned Amazon Glacier require several hours before the stored data can be retrieved once again, Nearline is able to serve data in around three seconds. It also integrates with other products in Google’s Cloud Platform portfolio, making it easier for pre-existing installations to tap into the system.

Google’s moves are a reflection of the cut-throat industry online storage has become, where any company that doesn’t move fast will crash and burn rapidly. Even as storage offerings become cheaper and faster for the consumer, the profits on offer continue to shoot up as more people embrace online solutions to store data where they can easily get to it later – whether it’s personal, private or business. With Microsoft’s Azure platform proving itself one of the company’s most profitable divisions; and storage-based companies such as Box and Dropbox raising millions in investor funds, competition is always hotting up.

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