There are many cloud storage options on the market, but Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive still command more than their fair share of consumer attention. Dropbox has set many trends in the user experience field, and earned a loyal fan base as a result. It also doesn’t hurt that they had a four-year head start on Google, and that Microsoft spent several years retooling and re-branding their service, before they got things right.
Applications might be what differentiate Dropbox, Google Drive, and One Drive from the rest of the pack, but you don’t become an alpha dog by being a one-trick pony. Moving data to the cloud allows users to retain more content, access data from any device, safeguard files, and share content with others. It’s these benefits, more than integrated apps, which have driven consumers to store their photos, videos, and documents in the cloud.
Dropbox gives users 2 GB of storage space for free with their Basic plan. Pro gives 1 TB of space and access to additional features, which includes password-protected links and expiry dates. Users also have the option of paying for the service month-to-month at $9.99.
Google Drive gives users 15 GB of free cloud storage. There are no annual plans just month-to-month options of 100 GB for $1.99, 1 TB for $9.99, or 10 TB for $199.99.
Microsoft One Drive starts you off with 5 GB of free cloud storage. Beyond that, they have three different pricing options of 100 GB for $1.99, 200 GB for $3.99, and 1 TB for $6.99.
Syncing and Speed
Dropbox has also implemented incremental uploads and downloads into their syncing architecture, to speed things up. Users can also separately throttle upload and download speeds, to help keep other tasks running smoothly.
Unfortunately, Google Drive does not support incremental uploads and downloads, which is disappointing and a little surprising. However, they do let you throttle syncing speeds.
Like Google Drive, One Drive does not support incremental syncing. However, they do support speed throttling, to prevent large files from slowing other things down, hopefully.
I could probably overlook the fact that One Drive doesn’t support file versioning for non-native files, and occasionally deletes items from your recycling bin, after just three days. Not encrypting user data at-rest, however, is a pretty egregious sin in this day and age — so One Drive is out of the game. Which leaves only Dropbox and Google Drive standing, and I choose Dropbox.The ability to protect shared links with passwords and expiration dates is a great way to control access to content. So are tabs to audit shared folders, links and events
Both Dropbox and One Drive provide adequate support, that should meet most needs. However, on the other hand, Google Drive, actually goes the extra mile. With both telephone and live chat support, its almost like they want to talk to you (isn’t that a novel idea). Add to the equation Google Drive’s excellent user community and video tutorial library, and they’re the clear winner in this round.
The Winner Is…
Play with any three of these services for a bit, and I think it’s plain to see why they’re so popular. Each sports great interfaces and a broad set of useful features, highlighted by their application libraries, collaboration, and syncing capabilities. I’ve used all three. however, most of my collaborations with co-workers takes place over One Drive, and so out of the three; it’s the service that I get the most mileage out of.
I believe Google Drive has the best and broadest application library, and its support network is superlative. Google Drive’s pricing flexibility also means it’s easily scalable to any budget. Incidentally, that opens up a little financial wiggle room to add a second cloud storage option, such as one that offers zero-knowledge encryption, like Sync.com.
However, if you’re not interested in adding a second service and need a full 1TB of storage space, I have to recommend Dropbox instead. The service’s 1TB price tag is equal to Google Drive’s, and while their application library isn’t quite as attractive, it’s still pretty excellent. Where Dropbox pulls ahead of the competition, in my opinion, are two areas:
- Their syncing speeds are much faster than Google Drive or OneDrive, thanks to incremental file transfer architecture
- They offer much better content control and auditing features to manage collaborations
Where does One Drive fall in all of this? Their affordable pricing and excellent family plan catch the eye, but until they add at-rest encryption for consumers, I’d look elsewhere.
The winner based on current configurations is Dropbox for a consumer based product.