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


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:

DropboxOneDriveGoogle Drive
2 GB - Free5 GB - Free15 GB - Free
1 TB - $15/month50 GB - $1.99/month100 GB - $1.99/month
1 TB - $19.99/month1 TB - $6.99/month1 TB - $9.99/month
5 TB - $9.99/month2 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!

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.
Leave a Comment

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. dj0601 picture dj0601
    2019 July 12th

    Thx!,Clear and to the point to my understanding and working in a system of interconnectivity

  6. Andrew Wright picture Andrew Wright
    2019 July 4th

    When describing OneDrive sharing you mention: “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.”

    I don’t think that this is correct – I think you need a OneDrive “Premium Plan” to be able to do this.

  7. Liesl Fireman picture Liesl Fireman
    2019 July 3rd

    Thank you. Been looking into One Drive as i presently use Google Drive. Going to use more features of Google Dive i had not used yet.
    Great summary of pros and cons.

  8. Andrew Wright picture Andrew Wright
    2019 July 3rd

    Hi, thanks for the article. However, I think that it would have been worth mentioning that a subscription to Office 365 can provide 1 TB of storage for 5 different people as well as use of the Office products.

  9. Andrew Rice picture Andrew Rice
    2019 June 29th

    Great summary! Well written and easy to follow. Thanks.

  10. Timothy Lecore picture Timothy Lecore
    2019 June 12th

    Great easy to read article which highlights the pros and cons of each product
    Thank you

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