Google lets slip talk of online storage

Notes posted on company Web site after analyst presentation refer to "infinite storage" service.

Google is preparing to offer online storage to Web users, creating a mirror image of data stored on consumer hard drives, according to company documents that were mistakenly released on the Web.

The existence of the previously rumored GDrive online storage service surfaced after a blogger discovered apparent notes in a slide presentation by Google executives published on Google's site after its analyst presentation day, which was held last Thursday.

"With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including emails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc)," the notes in the original Google presentation state.

Chief Executive Eric Schmidt in his presentation made a cryptic comment that one goal of Google was to "store 100 percent" of consumer information.

Copies of the notes were captured by a handful of bloggers and shared around the Web. The company subsequently took down its original PowerPoint slide presentation and replaced it with a 94-page Adobe Acrobat file, devoid of the speaker notes.

When asked to confirm plans for a GDrive, a Google spokeswoman declined to comment on any specific service but confirmed that presentation containing the notes had been mistakenly released on the Web.

"We deleted the slide notes because they were not intended for publication," Google spokeswoman Lynn Fox said. The deleted presentation had appeared on Google's investor relations site.

"We are constantly working on new ways to enhance our products and services for users, but have nothing to announce at this time," she said.

The retracted management notes go on to state that GDrive is one of several efforts in this direction but faces bandwidth constraints for many users with slower network speeds.

Google could save users from potential computer data crashes by keeping a "golden copy" of user data on Google's centralized computers and rely on the user's local hard drive simply for speedy access to one's data, the notes state.

Recently Google began offering an optional service that stores copies of the text portions of a computer user's data on Google's computers. The service lets users search data stored on local computers from other machines via Google accounts.

While offering more convenient access to user data, the service stoked debate about the dangers of users storing so much of their digital lives on Google machines.

Google recently squared off against the U.S. Justice Department, which has subpoenaed a limited set of data on Google search habits, drawing an outcry from privacy advocates.

Meanwhile Microsoft's new version of the Windows operating system, called Vista, will emphasize a Web-like search instead of its traditional folder-based navigation.

Google might offer similar services but shift the primary location of user data from the Windows desktop to Google's own computers.

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