There’s been a boom of cloud services over the last five years, and picking the best fit can be a daunting task. Today we’ll look at the three most well-known players—OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox—and see which one reigns supreme.
The Standard Offers
Regardless of which service you pick, all three of them will come with Versioning, Sync Folder, Folder Sharing, and File Link Sharing. Versioning keeps older versions of your files in case you make a mistake and need to revert. The Sync Folder is the folder added to your computer—place your files there, and you can upload without needing a browser. Folder Sharing is for sharing specific folders in the cloud while keeping others secure. File Link Sharing is the option to share links to a file via a unique URL without giving the other person access to the rest of the folder.
All of this is available on the free as well as paid versions, with the paid versions providing a lot more extras.
Cost and Storage
In terms of storage for the free user, Google Drive offers the most, at 15 GB. Google also has a big advantage, in that if you’re using Gmail, you’re already using Google Drive, and all your emails are stored there. It should also be noted that files from Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides do not take up space in your Drive storage.
If you’re a Personal user, the available plans go for:
$1.99 per month for 100GB
$9.99 per month for 1TB
$99.99 per month for 10TB
$199.99 per month for 10TB
$299.99 per month for 30TB
Every paid plan also comes with access to Google experts and 24/7 support, the option to add family members, and extra member benefits.
If you’re looking for an Enterprise plan, then you’ll have to look to the G Suite, which we’ve already covered in our G Suite VS Office 365 piece. But in essence: G Suite Business will give you unlimited storage for $120/user/year, and Enterprise will give you that, along with data loss prevention and extra security features for $300/user/year. Note that if your company has five or less members, you will not get unlimited storage and you’ll have to make do with 1TB.
With OneDrive, free users get 5 GB of storage to start with, and for $1.99/month, you can increase that to 50 GB. If you have an Office 365 Personal subscription ($69.99/year), then you also have 1 TB of storage in OneDrive, along with advanced security, security tools, and other features in addition to Office 365. An Office 365 Home ($99.99/year) gives you all of the Personal perks, and ups storage space to 6 TB.
For Business plans, they start at $5/user/month for 1 TB of storage, with files limited to 15 GB in size. Unlimited storage will be $10/user/month, and without file-size limits. It also adds Data Loss Prevention, monitoring, and In-Place Holds to preserve deleted and edited documents for eDiscovery. The Business Premium package has all of the previous perks, Office apps, and many more add-ons.
Dropbox offers the least amount of space for free users at 2 GB, but you can increase it to a maximum of 16 GB or 32 GB via referrals and other means. Referrals net you between 500 MB and 1GB, depending on whether you’re a Basic user, or a paid one. Finally, going through Dropbox’s tutorial will net you 250 MB.
$9.99/month gives 1 TB, along with more support options and remote device wipes. $19.99 gets you 2 TB, and a lot of extras including shared link controls, viewer history, 120-day history, and priority chat support.
For Business plans that come with extra security options, there’s Standard and Advanced. Standard sits at $15/month/user for 2 TB of space, while Advanced nets you unlimited storage for $25/month/user.
All three services let you upload via browser, mobile app, or sync folder. Google Drive’s iOS and Android app, you can view all of your files, search them for content, share them, and change permissions. The Drive App also works for offline viewing mode, and Android users can use the app to scan and save documents (this feature isn’t available on iOS yet).
OneDrive’s mobile app also contains the standard features of document viewing, sharing, and marking files for you to work on offline. But since it’s part of Microsoft, the OneDrive app can open any document from the Office suite. This includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Users can also scan documents to add them to OneDrive.
If you store a lot of photos, then OneDrive has another big advantage: It automatically tags them. When your family pesters you for those holiday photos, finding them is extremely easy due to the tagging system.
Then, there’s Dropbox, whose mobile app is probably the best among the bunch. The standard features are included, as well as the ability to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files in the app itself. The document scanner is painless to use, and you can also mark files for offline use. New collaboration improvements have added the ability to add comments to files as well.
Standard (free) users get no additional security measures on Google Drive, so turning on 2-Step Verification is a must to keep your account secure. Versioning on Google Drive works great in terms of how long it keeps your files—you can go months back, unlike with OneDrive and Dropbox.
The G Suite plans do add extra layers of security that let admins manage users, secure devices remotely, or audit accounts. And, because of Google’s data centers, they guarantee a 99.9% accessibility to your data.
With OneDrive, it’s much the same in terms of free users, with the Business plans providing additional security. Users who subscribe to Office 365 Personal or Home have access to expiring sharing links, but if file security is a real concern, you’ll have to look to Enterprise plans. With those, you can set expiration dates for links, disable external sharing, enterprise-grade security encryption, auditing and reporting tools, eDiscovery for sensitive content, and placeholders for important documents.
Dropbox will encrypt any files you aren’t using—so long as you aren’t presently logged into your account, so turning on 2-Step Verification is also a must if you want to keep your free account secure. All users get 30-day versioning, except for Professional users, who get 120. Like we mentioned above, paid plans let you remotely wipe devices, and companies using Team or Advanced accounts have access to features that make their files HIPAA compliant. Accounts that are Professional or above also have link controls to set passwords, expiration dates, and download permissions on their files, and admins can control, track, and audit users as well as staff.
The File Sync
All three cloud solutions will sync and update your apps across all your devices you have them installed on.
The extra in Drive is that Gmail users can save attachments to the cloud directly from their e-mail.
If you’re running Windows 10, OneDrive comes built into your OS as a background app. OneDrive also has support for the Xbox, so you can consume media from the cloud on your Xbox console, and photos saved onto OneDrive will be automatically put in organized galleries. In addition to that, there’s the Office 365 integration, which lets you collaborate in real time with fellow subscribers.
Dropbox, while the fastest in terms of sync, needs the paid plans to have some real upgrades. The Business plans come with Smart Sync, which lets you search all of your Dropbox from Finder or Explorer—including files not stored in your computer, which is especially great if you have limited space in your drive.
In terms of the app itself, Dropbox is probably the best option. It’s painless to install, fast to sync, the document scanner works amazing, new integration for Gmail is available—but it only has 2 GB of space to start with. So if you’re a free user, OneDrive and Google Drive both give you more space (albeit Drive’s is shared with Gmail.)
However, OneDrive has one major plus: it’s backed by Office 365 and the entire SharePoint suite. So, if you’re an Office 365 subscriber, it makes no sense to pass on OneDrive for your storage needs. This is doubly true if you’re using SharePoint as well, so definitely go with OneDrive if you’re already an Office 365 and/or SharePoint user!
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