Google Drive has just launched. Google Drive is blocked in China. Because we’re talking about the Great Firewall here, those two statements are not a kind of non sequitur. Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) long-awaited file storage platform launched just a few hours ago, but it is dead in the water in China, apparently totally inaccessible.
It’s not clear if this is a domain block on drive.google.com or that the range of servers used for Drive is the same as those for other Google products that are long-since blocked here, such as Google Docs. Indeed, when I tried to load the Drive homepage in my desktop Chrome browser, I got the message “Google Docs: The app is currently unreachable.” So at least Chrome thinks that Drive is a part of the Google Docs web app that I have installed in Chrome. On other browsers, and on my phone, I just get a conventional ‘web page not available’ error, as pictured here:
Doing a ‘traceroute’ on that domain (see the screenshot) reveals that “drive.google.com has multiple addresses” and that the one I was assigned automatically showed no sign of life on the Chinternet. It’s entirely possible that Drive could work for someone in China if they could find one of its servers that’s not blocked, and then configure a web proxy to use only that one.
The circumstances of this block seem a bit different to the last major Google product to launch and then get slammed by the Great Firewall – Google Plus. On that occasion, the new social network worked fine for a few short days in China, before most of its servers got whacked. With G+, there was not necessarily a blanket plus.google.com subdomain block as it would sometimes work, until it finally got throttled to death.
Chinese web users who need a bit of cloud backup in their lives have, of course, plenty of local alternatives to try, such as Shanda’s Everbox or Baidu’s new WangPan from a couple of local web giants, or the startups Yun.io or Kanbox, to name but four. But, as for Google Drive, the choice has been made for people once again.