10 September, 2015

Google Earth Pro: Gratis but not so Free

Some months ago, Google Earth Pro went from a significant $399 per year to exactly zero. For architects like us, the enhanced measuring tools and the significantly higher resolution compared to the (already free) standard version can be invaluable.

Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts over several days in February, the installer failed and there was no useful error message of any kind. I didn't have time to pursue it back then, so I just continued using the already installed standard version of GE. Still, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was wrong.

For the last year and a half, I've been using a 120GB SSD for my C: drive where Windows and my Program Files are located. Of late, though, I found myself hesitating to install new software because I was running out of space; it was time for a bigger one.

Anyone who has used SSDs will tell you how blazingly fast they are compared to the old spinning hard disks. ARCHICAD starts up in a fraction of the time, as does Windows itself. But SSDs are still a lot more expensive which is why people like myself continue to archive data on the cheaper (and much larger capacity) traditional HDDs.

I picked up the best-selling Samsung 850 EVO which has an excellent 4.7 star rating on Amazon and a pretty good price too. And now that I have two SSDs, I'm using the smaller one for my current project files as well as office library so that opening a .pln in AC is even quicker than it was earlier. I toyed briefly with the idea of going for the Samsung 850 Pro which has a 10-year warranty but wasn't interested in paying almost double. Besides even if the drives do last the full ten years, their capacity will seem really puny long before that. My first hard disk was barely 40MB and that was just over 25 years ago. The rate of increase has -- and always will be -- exponential. Okay, so now you know I'm an old goat. Back to the subject...

After duly loading Windows, it was time to reinstall all the software as well and here's where I come back to the recalcitrant Google Earth Pro. I downloaded the installer all over again (incorrectly assuming that the previous one was buggy) but faced the same problem as before. It would neither work nor tell me why it wasn't working! $#@%!!

Searching for a solution led to suggestions about using the "offline installer" but the download link on that page gave a 404 error, indicating a file not found. Even then the penny didn't drop. Then I noticed a mention of someone in Vietnam having the same problem; and that's when I got my first glimmer of what was wrong. I tried the same offline installer link using a free VPN plugin for my browser and bingo!

Long story short: the Google Earth Pro download seems to have been blocked in some countries including India. I don't know if the blocking is being done by ISPs in the countries themselves or whether they've got Google to do the dirty work for them (I suspect the latter) but either way it's stupid and short-sighted.

Once you've downloaded and installed GE-Pro, it should run normally and I'm happy to finally have it working. One last thing: the software itself is legally free but it still asks for a license key at first start, so use GEPFREE along with your email ID.

I hope this article helps some people.  Thanks for reading.

Hit the comments:
  • Is Google Earth Pro blocked in your country?
  • Do you have an SSD and if not, why not?
  • What was the capacity of your first HDD?
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