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Seeing that many of us have three computers these days (e.g.. work, home and laptop) is anyone using Google Drive as their main file repository for GIS data? I like the idea of backing everything up in the cloud and syncing it to all of my computers.

I would like to hear anyone's experiences with backing up and syncing their GIS data in Google Drive or one of the other cloud sync/backup services. Are there any serious limitations in using/storing GIS data in the cloud? Is anyone integrating Google Drive with their work server to access data at home? Thanks for your thoughts.

Update: I spent the $5/month to upgrade my Google Drive storage capacity to 100GB. My GIS files are now synced to all of my computers and backed up in the cloud. I have been working with Arc for several days off my Google Drive with no noticeable issues--so far so good.

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you might like it - but work does not like the idea of sensitive data sitting on a server they don't own. –  Mapperz Jun 29 '12 at 13:33

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Dropbox/Google Drive work on the principle that when a file gets modified, it will upload the file into the cloud. Then when your on your other machine, it will download the latest copy.

This works great for small files.

  • GIS data can often be large filesizes.

If I edit one feature attribute in a layer that is 2GB big, there will be a lot of uploading/downloading of that file.

  • GIS data is often accessed by more than one user

Conflicts would occur if multiple people using the same dropbox account and trying to edit the data.

Sounds like your goal is to sync projects between work and home.

If your working on projects that involve <250mb size datasets, then the dropbox/google drive account would be ok to sync your project between multiple locations.

If the filesize gets bigger, it might be easier to sync the two locations with a external hard drive and a tool like SyncToy.

For most organisations, a RDBMS is the usually best approach for syncing and backing up data across multiple locations. If you only edit one record in a large dataset, there is no need to sync the entire database to a separate location, but just trickle to differences across. See Esri's GIS Data Administration for more details on this.

If need be, a RDBMS can also be held in the cloud - e.g. Using Windows Azure SQL Database and ArcGIS

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I use both GDrive and Dropbox for syncing non-gis data. I suspect their architechture is similar, certainly the dialog for desktop file sync is very similar. I have only used Dropbox for syncing between two machines on the same account and shape files. I suspect errors, mostly from the use of two machines on the same account. Malevolance from file managers toward shapefiles is not unique to Dropbox in my opinion.

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