If you follow hongkiat.com closely, you’ll know that we have mentioned Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive before. In this article, we’re going to compare these three cloud storage services head to head.
Cloud storage services are so handy nowadays as it saves space on your portable drive, smartphone or computer; it syncs all your files throughout all your devices, its cross-platform compatibility and best of all, you can get storage space for free. Sharing big or multiple files is also made easy while it securely keeps your files away from public computers.
Note: This article will involve a lot of in depth information that might be lengthy to read; if you want a gist comparison of the three services, check out the Table of Comparison.
1. Storage Space
Each service offers different amounts of free storage and a variety of premium storage spaces.
Dropbox starts you off with 2GB of free storage but you get referral perks, that is 500 MB of extra space for every friend you refer Dropbox to. More than 35 referrals later, you’ll be able to earn a maximum of 18GB, giving you a grand total of 20GB inclusive of your initial 2GB.
For more storage, you can opt for the Pro Dropbox account that offers 100GB, 200GB and 500GB from $9.99, $19.99 and $49.99 per month respectively or save 17% by paying $99, $199 and $499 yearly.
Dropbox Teams provides a solution for large groups of users, between 5 and 50 users. The Team package comes with administrative tools for centralized management of files and is very flexible depending on how many users or storage space you require.
Google Drive is readily available within your Gmail account. From there you start with 5GB worth of storage space. Additional space can be purchased with a wide variety of plans (ranging from 25GB to 16TB). Upgrading to any account will also give you the same amount of storage in Picasa while your Gmail Storage is upgraded to 25GB.
SkyDrive comes with 7GB of free storage. They have the cheapest upgrade plans among the 3 services which you can see in the picture below. They classify their upgrades as add-ons to your 7GB of space; unlike the previous two services. As they are also fairly new to the scene, there are no bigger storage plans to offer yet.
2. Supporting Platforms
We’ll now take a closer look at what platforms each cloud service currently supports: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone.
The Dropbox desktop application is available on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Dropbox is also available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Dropbox is the only service that currently natively supports Linux; and also the only service to support BlackBerry.
Google Drive is available for Windows and Mac OS; however unlike Dropbox, it has no native support for Linux and relies on third party programs. In terms of mobile, Google Drive is available only on iOS and Android.
SkyDrive is readily available for Windows and Mac OS; just like Google Drive, it relies on third party programs for it to be used on Linux. For mobile platform support, SkyDrive is the only service that has their own app for Windows Phone; it is also available on iOS and Android.
Speaking of Windows Phone support, there is a third party Windows phone app that supports Dropbox, unlike Google Drive which has yet to enter the Windows phone scene.
We’ll now take a look at the unique and common features that can be found in each cloud service.
Besides ‘earning’ storage space through referrals, you can get more free space by using Dropbox’s Camera Upload feature on your desktop or smartphone. Dropbox also has a unlimited undo (version) history feature for an extra $39 a year, only available with a Pro Dropbox account.
Uploading files through the Dropbox website has a limit of 300MB, which is the same for the SkyDrive website. Whereas, uploads through the Dropbox Desktop app have no file size limit (unlike the 2GB file limit on SkyDrive).
Dropbox has also successfully integrated with Facebook Groups where you can share files from your dropbox files to your Facebook Groups.
Google Drive allows you to disable automatic deletion of old versions which means you can keep all file revisions as long as you want although doing this maxes out your storage space quickly.
Google Drive is also an online document editor which converts your Microsoft Office document (.doc / .docx) into a Google Document (.gdoc) before editing.
There is a file size upload limit of 10GB on the desktop app and website version.
Installing the SkyDrive desktop application allows you to access every file on that PC it is installed in; so as long as your PC is turned on, connected to the internet with SkyDrive running, you’ll be able to access all your files through the SkyDrive website.
SkyDrive also has Microsoft Web Apps which include Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote on the web browser. Although it does not have every feature found on the desktop application, it is sufficient enough for quick editing jobs.
An added feature is the OneNote mobile app that works together with SkyDrive, where you can take notes that automatically syncs and uploads to SkyDrive.
Some Common Features
Version history. A feature available on all services, deleted files are kept intact for 30 days before being permanently deleted. In Google Drive, you get to keep 100 document revisions while SkyDrive offers you 25.
Selective folder syncing. Available in Dropbox and Google Drive, this allows you to sync only files or folders you need when you access your files from another computer. Not included in SkyDrive.
Events tracking. Another feature not found in SkyDrive yet, this allows you to monitor activities on folders or edits on files.
Customized sharing permission. On Google Drive and SkyDrive you can not only customize who gets to see which files, users also get to simultaneously edit documents online and comment on the files. Sharing on Dropbox is limited to just the download link for access to the file.
4. File Type Support
You can upload any file type to the cloud but you can view only file types that are supported. Iif the service does not support the file, all you can do is download it onto your computer to view and edit. Videos and images are supported on all three services, but we need to wait longer for audio playback as it is against copyright law (still). Each service has varying levels of file support.
Dropbox does not have any online document editor which means files only can be downloaded. However, for the Dropbox app on your smartphone or tablet, you are able to view Microsoft Office files, Apple iWork files, audio/video files, images, and PDF files. Documents cannot be edited with the app but can be opened with another editing app.
The Google Drive website supports unique files like Adobe Illustrator (.AI) and Photoshop (.PSD) files, Autodesk AutoCad files and Scalable Vector Graphics files. You can also view Microsoft Office documents, but can only edit it after converting it to a Google Docs file type.
The Google Drive app does not fully support viewing the unique files like its website counterpart does. However, you can do basic edits to Google Docs files and view movie files through the app.
Most Microsoft Office file types can be viewed and edited thanks to its Microsoft Web App. The website version only supports playback for .MP4 and .WMV video files, while other video and audio formats can only be downloaded. The website also supports slideshows for images and PowerPoint files.
The SkyDrive app only allows you to view files in a way similar to Dropbox.
Using cloud storage services means your files are online. This situation is a whole lot more vulnerable than having your files confined to your computer at home. But rest assured that these services have solutions for your security woes.
Dropbox and Google Drive have a 2-step verification feature when logging in to your account through the website. A standard email and password login is followed by a second punch-in of a security code sent to your smartphone by SMS or by using the Google Authenticator App (iOS/Android).
On the other hand SkyDrive handles security differently by sending a security code to your secondary email address when accessing sensitive information like editing your contact info or connecting your PC for remote access.
In terms of mobile app security, Dropbox is the only app that has a 4-digit passcode. Although this is a basic security feature, it’s one step ahead than Google Drive and SkyDrive.
Here’s a short rundown of each service to help you determine which service to select.
Dropbox is a powerful and simple sharing tool that has been around the longest among these 3 services. Its referral system to earn storage space is also unique and a great crowdpuller. It is also very secure with 2-step verification, and a 4-digit passcode lock for the mobile app. Other benefits include natively supporting Linux and Blackberry unlike the other 2 services.
Google Drive has unique file type support (Adobe, AutoCad files) which makes it easier to view those files online. Although you can edit documents online, you’ll have to convert it to a Google Document that might mess up the formatting of the original Microsoft Office file. It is also secure with 2-step verification which is linked throughout your Google account and other services.
SkyDrive is somewhat in the early stages of being a slightly improved service of Google Drive because of Microsoft Web Apps for online editing, with similar sharing settings and simultaneous editing features. SkyDrive also starts you off with the most amount of free space. Unique features found in SkyDrive (not found in the other 2) is the remote access to the files on your PC, native support for Windows Phones and the ability to take sync notes on your mobile via OneNote app.
Each service has its strength and weaknesses which is why one service is not necessarily better than the other. If you’re unsure of which to start using, go ahead and try all 3. Afterall, they don’t cost anything and you get a total of 14GB of online storage to start on!
Table of Comparison
100GB $9.99/month or $99/year
200GB $19.99/month or $199/year
500GB $49.99/month or $499/year
25GB $2.49 100GB $4.99 200GB $9.99 400GB $19.99 1TB $49.99 2TB $99.99 4TB $199.99 8TB $399.99 16TB $799.99 (monthly rate)
Upgraded storage also applies to Picasa; additional 25GB to Gmail.
27GB $10/year 57GB $25/year 107GB $50/year
Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry
Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android
Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Selective Folder Syncing, Events Tracking, Version History, Sharing Link, Facebook Group Integration
Selective Folder Syncing, Events Tracking, Version History, Sharing Permission Settings, Commenting on Files, Online Document Editor, Simultaneous Document Editing
Events Tracking, Version History, Sharing Permission Settings, Commenting on Files, Microsoft Office Web Apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote), Simultaneous Document Editing, Remote Access to Files on PC, OneNote Mobile App
|Version History||30 Days for All Files||30 Days or 100 Document Revisions||30 Days or 25 Document Revisions|
|File Upload Limit||Unlimited Through Desktop App, 300MB Through Website||10GB Through Both Desktop App and Website||2GB Through Desktop App, 300MB Through Website|
|Sharing||Simple Sharing Link||Customized Sharing and Access Settings||Customized Sharing and Access Settings|
2-Step Verification, 4-Digit Passcode for Mobile App
2-Step Verification Across All Google Services
Verification Code when Accessing PC Files Remotely
|Supported File Types||Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, Audio, Video and Image Files||Adobe Illustrator (.AI) & Photoshop (.PSD), Autodesk AutoCad, Scalable Vector Graphics, Audio, Video and Image Files||Microsoft Office, Audio, Video and Image Files||Start Using Cloud Storage Today||Dropbox Website||Google Drive Website||SkyDrive Website|