Dropbox vs SkyDrive vs Google Drive

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Many of us now spend our lives living on multiple devices – laptops, tablets, smartphones. Maintaining data, and maintaining consistency across the devices can be, and almost always is, a problem. Cloud storage services are here to our rescue though. They provide cross platform compatibility and are pretty handy for the obvious file sharing that most users sign up for. In fact, that was how Dropbox began – Drew Houston, the founder, would repeatedly forget his USB flash drive while he was a student at MIT. Now, cloud storage providers are increasingly becoming more important as this trend of multiple devices, and the need for seamless file sharing and access, increases.

At the same time, they are all fighting it out to be the dominant cloud storage provider for you, with different incentives, plans and features. Which one would you rather opt for? Here’s a comparison between Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s SkyDrive on different parameters:

Free Storage

Free Storage Online

All 3 – Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive – start with a certain amount of free space allotted to every user, which can be increased upon payment, with rates varying for each provider.

SkyDrive starts with the maximum amount of free space – 7GB. Google starts with 5GB, while Dropbox starts with the least – 2GB. You can however, considerably increase your Dropbox storage capacity – by referrals, beta testing, camera upload through your phone, and many other tweaks. Or if you happen to buy an HTC device, you start off with 25GB of space straightaway.

If you’re not planning to pay for your storage – SkyDrive or Dropbox offer the most value.

Paid Storage

If a few GBs aren’t enough, you can pay for additional space – 100GB costs $99 on Dropbox, $60 on Drive and $50 on SkyDrive.

Platform support

DropBox Drivegoogle driveSkyDrive

All three services are available on iOS, Windows, Mac and Android. SkyDrive, belonging to Microsoft, gets to be the only service to have an official app on Windows Phones, while Dropbox makes it to Windows Phone via a third party app. Dropbox has an edge here since it is the only one compatible with Linux and Blackberrys. So if you’re running any of these two – you know you have to go for Dropbox.

Synchronization

Both Google Drive and Dropbox offer options to choose which folders you would want synced to the cloud. SkyDrive’s application also lets you access your computer’s entire hard drive, thus giving you control over every file on it.

File Type Support

Any file type can be uploaded on to these cloud services – but you can only view file types that are supported. Keeping that in mind, here’s a comparison on file type support for the three platforms:

Dropbox doesn’t support any file type. All files must be downloaded and nothing can be opened online. It’s not a major issue though – if you’re using Dropbox on your phone – you can edit files right from your phone (via an editor ofcourse) and have them updated. The same would apply for your computer.

Google Drive supports unusual, and in a way, diverse range of file types – like Autodesk AutoCAD files, Photoshop (.psd) files, and even Adobe Illustrator files. But at the same time, it lacks basics. You can only view, but not edit Microsoft Office documents. All such files are converted to their Google Docs equivalent for editing. That can troublesome if you’re using a phone. I run an HTC Android, and am unable to edit any office documents via Drive. Since Google Docs can only be accessed online, there is hardly any offline usability. Serious disadvantage here.

SkyDrive, being Microsoft’s child, will let you open and edit any Office documents. There is even support for audio formats, but limited to MP4 and WMV only.

Online features

Dropbox limits online uploads via its website to a maximum size of 300MB, while there is no size limit while uploading through the desktop application. SkyDrive’s web version also limits file size to 300MB. Google Drive limits it to 10GB on both the web version and desktop application.

Google Drive brings its online Apps Suite with itself, which means you can edit and documents and files online without having to download them to your computer. SkyDrive comes with Microsoft Web Apps, which lets you edit Word, Powerpoint, Excel and OneNote files from within your browser.

Dropbox, being the oldest among the three, has more online presence than the other two. Its integration with Facebook Groups is also a big plus. Sharing files is simple – just share the link. Drive and SkyDrive offer more customization, letting you choose exactly who you would want seeing your files. The latest update for Dropbox for Android lets you share entire photo albums with a single link.

Summary

Dropbox:

Free Space: 2GB + referrals + camera upload + other features [upto 18GB]

File Size limit: Unlimited

Premium space pricing: $99/year for 100GB, $199/year for 200GB

Standout feature: Only cloud service for Linux and Blackberry. HTC handsets get you 25GB free.

 

Google Drive:

Free Space: 5GB

File Size Limit: 10GB

Premium space pricing: $60/year for 100GB

Standout feature: Wide range of file type support. Half as cheap as Dropbox.

 

SkyDrive:

Free Space: 7GB

File Size limit: 2GB

Premium space pricing: $10/year for 20GB, $25/year for 50GB, $50/year for 100GB

Standout feature: Only provider with official Windows Phone app. Impressive integration with Windows 8 and Windows Phones. Remote Access.

 

Verdict

Dropbox is the oldest of the three providers, and is thus more established. It is bound to attract more users thanks to features like referral, which earn you additional space. It is also the only service to support Linux and Blackberry systems. It even has passcode locks for its mobile apps. Although it charges higher dollar-per-GB, it offers a clean interface, is easier to use and integrates very nicely with your phone. In fact, I no longer have to sync my phone to my computer for photos as they’re on my hard drive within seconds of having snapped a photo through my camera, thanks to the “camera upload” option. Purchasing an HTC gets you 25GB of free space (25GB free for 2 years with HTC Sense 4.0, Sense 4+, and Sense 5.0 phones). If you own an HTC, a Blackberry or run a Linux – Dropbox is the place to go.

Google Drive offers support more file types which makes online sharing and editing much easier. It also offers more value for dollar-per-GB. Plus, if you purchase additional space, you get 25GB extra on to your Gmail storage. But the fact that you have to convert office documents to Google Docs before you can begin editing can be a big pain and could drive many users to Dropbox or SkyDrive.

SkyDrive gives you the most free space to start with. It also lets you remote access your PC online. SkyDrive belonging to Microsoft, it has a headstart in terms of targeting Windows users. SkyDrive integrates superbly with Windows Phone and Windows 8. Office 2013’s default file-saving location is your SkyDrive account. It may be termed an unfair advantage, but if you have a Windows Phone or have recently purchased Windows 8, SkyDrive is a pretty good option.



  • Laurence Cutler

    im currently using google apps for business and would love to switch completely to Microsoft’s offerings, skydrive is awesome but has a few faults that stops me right now, dont know if anyone else get it but skydrive hasn’t quite got the video support there just yet, most hd videos stutter even when their mp4′s or wmv format

    and i wish they would combine skydrive into office 365, their new preview looks 10x better, but still lacks the great interface of outlook.com and skydrive etc..

  • ssommerf

    The article is missing the fact that skydrive limits the storage to 100 GB. That’s the maximum plan you can buy.

  • Michael

    It would be interesting to see how these services compare to Yandex Disk.

  • Ralf

    You got it totally wrong with dropbox file support !

    • http://www.facebook.com/Shash7 Shashank Bhardwaj

      All files are downloaded to your hard drive. Nothing opens within your browser online.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alwyn.sequeira Alwyn Sequeira

    Mr.Shashank.. really a decent post… love to see more posts from u…

  • bhoconnor

    One other apparent issue with SkyDrive is that it appears files others add into a shared online Skydrive folder do NOT show up in my desktop Skydrive folder–you can see the language used for this by:

    -Right clicking on Skydrive desktop icon, select Settings

    -Go to Choose folders tab

    -Click Choose folders

    -See the top option that says “All files and folders on my SkyDrive” and underneath that “Everything but files shared with you will sync on this PC.”

    That seems ridiculous…

  • Jose Gonzalez

    Also any Samsung phone with Jelly Bean will give you 25GB of free space for two years in Dropbox.

    • PaawanMiglani

      Jose Gonzalez i got 50 with my gs3 for 2 years

      • Jose Gonzalez

        PaawanMiglani My bad. You’re right. 2 GB for the subscription plus 48 GB for update your account via a Samsung device with Jelly Bean.

  • Me

    due to the issue of rights and access, I choose you Dropbox.  The only one to say I own my data hands down and without question or stipulation.  If that changes, Ill just have to go back to setting up my own distributed ftp

  • Sithtiger

    There is one cloud device that no one seems to notice and that’s Adrive!  Adrive.com will give you 50GB FREE!!!  The only ‘Con’ to this is that I don’t believe the files are encrypted and you can’t upload a file that is larger than 2GB.  I’m not certain but I do think you can edit office documents, but I’m not certain. You can upload just about any file type too.

  • creativemf1

    You neglected to note that Google Drive works BEST if you sign in with a GMAIL account. Once you DO … none of these services can compare to Google, to be honest. #GameOverMan …

  • Ed

    Please correct 25 GB dropbox is 25 GB dropbox “for two years” , see https://www.dropbox.com/help/249/en

    • http://www.geekmagazine.org soniageek

      @Ed Done, and thank you for the update.

  • http://google.com/ Brendan

    SkyDrive has twice as many users as Dropbox.

  • RJM34

    Just purchased a Samsung S4 in sunny South Africa.   Got 48 MB fee storage on dropbos

    • PaawanMiglani

      RJM34 South Africa! nice. I was born in botswana. My best friend lives in South Africa. Johannesburg I think

  • PaawanMiglani

    i have all three and have been using them all. I hate google drive. its garbage. I love skydrive and dropbox because of their fast and easy interface and because my galaxy gets me 48gb free on dropbox. sugarsync is good too and Adrive gives me a whopping 50GB but its a terrible interface

  • PaawanMiglani

    this is my in order list of favs. Try them all 
    https://www.dropbox.com/home easy, fast, clean, more space available for free
    https://skydrive.live.com/ easy, word integration, fast, good space, well integrated
    https://www.sugarsync.com/ easy, fast, nice look, additional free space available
    https://drive.google.com/ slow, bad with microsoft word, easy
    http://www.adrive.com/ LARGE amount of space, slow, terrible look and feel, no app, confusing

  • 10basetom

    I was in the same boat myself, but instead of relying on other people’s words I did my own test because my scenario could be different from yours:

    In the video I added the GIMP Portable folder to both Dropbox and SkyDrive at the same time to see which would finish syncing 58 MB of files sooner and how much CPU/RAM each client consumed. The recording was made on Windows 7 within a corporate network (behind proxy).
    I will do another recording from my Windows 8 64-bit machine within a home network (no proxy) later. The results for Windows 8 may surprise you — the roles were reversed in my preliminary testing, which suggests that the SkyDrive Windows 8 client is better than the Windows 7 client (or at least better integrated with Windows 8 for enhanced performance). Expect this video soon.

  • Giznit

    The author writes:  “Google Docs can only be accessed online, there is hardly any offline usability. Serious disadvantage here.”
    However, this is not true anymore! Google Docs can be accessed offline and all you need to do is enable google drive to do so. Read more at https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2375012?hl=en

  • Fifolo

    Dropbox becomes dog slow hen it has to sync a large number of files. CPU usage becomes unacceptably high on both Mac and PC.

  • WinMetro

    “Dropbox is the oldest of the three providers, and is thus more established.”

    Sorry but SkyDrive is older than Dropbox. SkyDrive was launched on August 1, 2007, while Dropbox was launched in September 2008. Also, SkyDrive has more users than Dropbox.