Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Wins?

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Dani Nolan

19 comments

2019 August 5th at 5:04

dropbox-vs-google-drive-vs-onedrive

When it comes to storing your files on the cloud, there are a lot of options out there.

Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive are among the most popular storage solutions for personal and business users alike. But how do you choose which of these services is best for your storage needs?

Today, I’ll walk you through a head-to-head comparison of Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive to find out which service is the best for cloud storage.

What Is Dropbox?

Dropbox is a standalone cloud storage solution designed for users ranging from individuals to businesses. The storage platform offers a variety of desktop and mobile applications for easy integration with your computer and smartphone, as well as robust file syncing and sharing capabilities.

Dropbox log-in page

What Is Google Drive?

Google Drive is a cloud storage solution closely linked to Gmail and Google’s entire G Suite of products. With Google Drive, you have access to Google’s native office applications to edit documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations directly on the cloud.

Google Drive also offers a desktop client that allows you to sync files between your computer and the cloud.

Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive Google Drive

What Is OneDrive?

OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution and the platform is well integrated with the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office applications.

OneDrive allows documents, spreadsheets, and other Office projects stored on the cloud to be shared and edited simultaneously. Note that while OneDrive is available for iOS systems, there is no Linux client for Microsoft OneDrive at this time.

OneDrive cloud storing

Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive: Head-To-Head Comparison

To decide which solution is the most suitable for your safe file keeping, let's take a closer look at the main features of all three platforms.

Pricing: Dropbox Lags Behind

Dropbox is at a significant disadvantage compared to its competitors. Dropbox only offers 2 GB for free when you sign up, while OneDrive offers 5 GB and Google Drive offers 15 GB.

Dropbox also offers 500 MB of additional storage for every friend that you refer to Dropbox. So if you wish to get more space for your data this way, you'll have to turn into a serious spokesperson.

If getting more storage is your ambition, your options break down as follows:

Dropbox OneDrive Google Drive
2 GB - Free 5 GB - Free 15 GB - Free
1 TB - $15/month 50 GB - $1.99/month 100 GB - $1.99/month
1 TB - $19.99/month 1 TB - $6.99/month 1 TB - $9.99/month
5 TB - $9.99/month 2 TB - $19.99/month
10 TB - $99.99/month

Thus, if you need a significant amount of storage, the cost of storage between Dropbox vs Google Drive is similar. However, OneDrive vs. Dropbox or Google Drive offers slightly more storage space for the money.

File Sharing: All 3 Options Are Doing Well

The ability to easily share files you have stored on the cloud with collaborators is a key feature of cloud storage platforms. All three of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive use sharable links that give others access to your files, although the ability to set different levels of security through these links varies between providers.

Dropbox includes a file sharing button with every document to make sharing easy. You can send a file link directly to a collaborator’s email or generate a static link that can be copied and shared.

With a ‘Professional’ plan, you also get options to put expiration dates on sharing links, require passwords to access files, and request files from collaborators. Under this plan, there is also a file sharing page where you can view all files that are currently being shared.

Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive File Sharing

Compared to Dropbox, Google Drive’s sharing features are far less robust. You can easily share files with collaborators thanks to integration with your Gmail contacts, but your only options are to allow view or edit permissions.

There are no additional security options, such as password-protecting files, and there is no way to keep track of the files you’ve shared in the past.

OneDrive vs. Dropbox is a more competitive battle on the subject of comprehensive file sharing.

OneDrive offers the same security features as Dropbox ‘Professional’ plans, including link expiration and password protection. Better yet, you don’t need anything more than the free plan to access these security options. But, there is no way of requesting files from friends and partners in the same manner as Dropbox.

Desktop Syncing: All Good, Dropbox A Bit Better

Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive OneDrive Desktop SyncWhen it comes to syncing your files between your computer’s hard drive and the cloud, there is little difference between Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive.

All three services use a similar desktop client that allows you to drag and drop files to an 'uploads' folder on your hard drive, which is automatically synced with the cloud and across your connected devices.

Dropbox does have a slight advantage over its competitors here, as the Dropbox client only uploads full files when they are first moved into the sync folder.

After that, Dropbox chops the file into 4 MB pieces so that syncing requires less bandwidth.

In contrast, OneDrive and Google Drive re-upload the entire file anytime you make edits.

Another area where Dropbox has an advantage is in saving hard drive space. All three services allow you to remove files from your hard drive and view them from the cloud when you’re connected to the Internet.

But with a Dropbox ‘Professional’ or ‘Business’ subscription, Dropbox will also create miniaturized versions of files that you can view while offline.

App Integrations: 3 Different Approaches

The ability to integrate apps for productivity and editing into your cloud storage service is what really differentiates the three platforms.

Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive all take vastly different approaches to incorporate third-party applications, which can make a big difference in how much you get out of your cloud storage.

To start, Dropbox is not built with any native file editing apps. That said, it does give you access to Microsoft Office Online if you need to make basic edits to documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoints. Dropbox also allows you to play music and video files back in your browser, as well as add additional functionality through integrations with Slack and IFTTT.

However, there’s no easy way to search for Dropbox apps, so you’ll need to know which of the other programs you use have Dropbox apps available.

Between OneDrive vs. Dropbox, the collection of available apps is much more clear thanks to a well-organized app menu. OneDrive integrates well with all Microsoft services, including Office Online, Office 365, Skype, Bing, and Outlook.

However, where OneDrive falls short is that the platform makes it difficult to integrate with services beyond Microsoft, such as apps from Zapier or IFTTT.

Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive OneDrive AppsGoogle Drive has the best third-party app integration of any of the three cloud storage services thanks to an API designed to court developers.

The app library is well-organized and searchable to make it easy to find apps that will improve your productivity.

Even better are Google’s native office apps, which include Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Google Docs in particular rivals Microsoft Word as a document editor, because it allows simultaneous editing by multiple collaborators on a single document.

However, if the look and feel of Microsoft Office applications are what attracts you, Google Drive offers plugins for Office 365 as well as Office Online.

Security: Question Marks All Around

All three cloud storage providers still have a way to go to completely protecting your files, but OneDrive, when compared to Google Drive or Dropbox, falls well short of the mark.

Whereas both Google Drive and Dropbox protect your files with 256-bit and 128-bit AES encryption, respectively, on their servers, OneDrive does not offer any file encryption after your files are uploaded to Microsoft’s servers unless you have a ‘Business’ subscription.

Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive encryption

That said, Dropbox and Google Drive don’t have stellar security records, either.

Dropbox de-encrypts your files after upload and stores file metadata in easily hackable plain text files. And all files stored on Google Drive are allowed to be scanned by Google according to the platform’s terms of service, which raises major privacy concerns.

And now, when we have the main things looked at - let's pit the cloud storage providers one against one.

Dropbox vs Google Drive

While Dropbox offers effortless file sharing and easy interface to work with, its pricing and lack of third-party integrations stop it from topping this list.

Google Drive, on the other hand, has the best app selection of all three solutions. Additionally, Google Drive offers the most generous free plan with 15GB storage.

In this cloud storage dual, Google Drive wins.

OneDrive vs Google Drive

Google Drive overtakes OneDrive because of its extensive app market as well as strong encryption standards. And while OneDrive does have integrated apps, they're only from Microsoft - limiting your options.

Google Drive, on the other hand, even has plugins for Microsoft's own Office 365 suite, among the hundreds of others.

In this instance, Google Drive is a more functional cloud storage solution.

OneDrive vs Dropbox

As mentioned before, Microsoft's OneDrive falls short when it comes to file encryption - non-encrypted data is a serious safety concern that shouldn't be overlooked. In contrast, Dropbox offers 2 most popular encryption methods (AES-128 and AES-256) for your files.

Moreover, OneDrive is unable to integrate with non-Microsoft apps so this also makes the service less functional.

Dropbox wins because of its ease of use and bandwidth saving syncing process.

Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive: Google Tops The Chart

When choosing between Google Drive vs OneDrive vs Dropbox, Google Drive stands out for its impressive 15 GB of free storage and relatively cheap paid plans. Its app integrations, and especially the simultaneous editing available in Google’s native office apps, make it the best cloud storage platform for collaborating in small teams.

Plus, while the ability to share files is more limited than with Dropbox or OneDrive, the ubiquity of Google products means that you won’t have much trouble sending files to friends, family, and coworkers.

In this case, OneDrive offers a less expensive option than Dropbox for Microsoft users, but little support for Linux operating systems. While Dropbox is the most expensive of the three providers, it’s robust file sharing, desktop syncing, and app integrations make it a strong contender as a cloud storage provider.

Did this guide help you choose between Dropbox vs Google Drive vs OneDrive? Let me know in the comments below!


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Dani Nolan

An experienced content professional with a creative mind. If I'm not writing, you can probably find me in the backyard playing with dogs or at some weird art show.


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19 comments

John picture
John

2019 October 1st

It would help if you report whether the remote user needs to load software or sign up for service to use the file share system. e.g., I shared a OneDrive folder with a customer of my service. The customer downloaded the files, edited them, but then found he could not upload the edited files back into One Drive. One Drive wanted him to log in to a One Drive account before he could upload the files. I cannot tell if he needed my login and password, or his own. He had no OneDrive account, and I was not going to give him my account info, so this effectively killed using OneDrive to share the files.

SEA picture
SEA

2019 October 1st

After study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon.

wolf picture
wolf

2019 September 29th

A bit long, but comprehensive and well written. Most important, an analysis was followed by clear recommendations; that attribute is often missing in tech reviews. Must be the positive energy of the dogs! Thanks…

Radovan picture
Radovan

2019 September 25th

No benchmarks? Well, that’s not much of a comparison then.

Mara picture
Mara

2019 September 4th

thank you
this was very clear helpful

Mike Jacobs picture
Mike Jacobs

2019 August 29th

My wife’s photo files continually outgrow her devices. Her only hope is OneDrive, which allows you to maintain ALL photos in the cloud so your local machine can run normally. You see the photo icons in file explorer (I know I’m dating myself) but the image isn’t local. Clearly, this is not ideal but the alternative is to maintain more and more local drives which defeats the purpose. My dropbox doesn’t do this and I don’t know about google.

Alex picture
Alex

2019 August 12th

RE: there is no Linux client for Microsoft OneDrive at this time
No ‘official’ Linux client, however there is a client which I actively develop and maintain – https://github.com/abraunegg/onedrive

Roger Rowett picture
Roger Rowett

2019 August 3rd

I have used Dropbox for a number of years but thought it was a bit crazy paying when I have a MS 365 account and OneDrive. However, having tried OneDrive for a while I’m moving back to Dropbox (I kept it). There are a number of minor but irritating issues with One Drive such as files in File Explorer showing files were not up to date when they were (lots of others complaining about this on the web), slower update and most annoyingly, the new Task View in Windows 10 pointing to the cloud file when I want to access the local file on my hard drive. Crazy that a third party like DB can get it right and MS can’t!

air max picture
air max

2019 July 25th

I am often to running a blog and i really recognize your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

Pamela picture
Pamela

2019 July 12th

As a relative newcomer to using the cloud I found this article informative and somewhat helpful in choosing a cloud service.