Updated. With only 16 GB of local storage, the newest Google Chromebook may appear limited to some. Of course, the Chromebook is meant to be a web-connected device that can lean on near limitless cloud storage. In fact, it works quite well in that use case. But you still have to buy that storage; at least once you use up your free 5 GB on Google Drive. Or do you?
It appears that Google is planning a Drive promotion for the current generation of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes that will provide 100 GB of free storage. According to the Chromestory site, various code bits from the Chromium OS open source project that Google’s Chrome OS is based on suggests these Google devices will see the option to get the free storage space on Google Drive, which as of earlier this month, is integrated directly into the Chrome OS. When I open the File Manager on my Series 5 550 Chromebook, for example, I see both the Downloads folder and my entire Google Drive contents. I can even choose to mark some of my Drive storage files for offline use.
Here’s a link to the official Chromium code review site for the code in question; if you click the link for committed code, you’ll see various files including one called mention “GDrive welcome” for example. And this code snippet also lends credence to the free storage bump:
544 GDATA_WELCOME_TITLE: ‘Welcome to Google Drive!’,
552 GDATA_WELCOME_TITLE: ‘Welcome to Google Drive!’,
553 GDATA_WELCOME_TITLE_ALTERNATIVE: ‘Get 100 GB free with Google Drive’,
Don’t expect any such promotion to appear on older Chromebooks; at least not at launch says the Chromestory site, which notes that only the Stumpy and Lumpy Chrome OS builds will see the offer. I know that the older CR-48 Chromebooks did receive the new Chrome OS update, but I don’t know the name of that build. I’ve reached out to Google for a comment on the entire development and will update if I hear back.
The evidence looks pretty solid, however, and if this does work out to be true, I think it’s brilliant because it suits two purposes. First, it can help make Google’s new Chrome OS devices more appealing. And second, it has the potential to get more data, files, folders, documents and images on Google’s servers, i.e. potentially away from Dropbox, Box, Amazon and other cloud storage services.
I can’t say my Chromebook is hurting for storage space — either locally or online — but I am getting tired of storing data on various cloud services. I could pay Google $4.99 a month for 100 GB of Drive storage to mitigate this issue, but I plan to wait and see if a 100 GB promotion becomes reality.
Update: I heard back from Google and was told this by a Google spokesperson: “We’re always trying out new interfaces and features to enhance the user experience, but have nothing new to announce at this time.”