Google Drive vs. Dropbox vs. OneDrive vs. iCloud: Which is Right for You

Remember when Google decided to launch Gmail and took on the likes of Yahoo and Hotmail? Not only was Gmail a better email client, it also offered generous space (1GB which was 500 times better than the competition) considering how expensive cloud storage was at the time. It was April Fools day but Google was dead serious.

It looks like Google is at it again, only this time, they want to dismantle the cloud storage business of Apple, Microsoft, and Dropbox. Meet Google One, a new home for Google Drive users under which you will find cheap cloud storage and a little something extra.

To better understand what Google is offering, I decided to dig deep into the cloud storage plans being offered by the competition. Let’s see what you really get for that dirt cheap prices and if it is really worth it.

1. Google One or Google Drive

Right now, Google Drive offers 15GB of free space that is shared between all the products that Google has to offer like Gmail, Drive, and Photos. Note that Google Photos technically offers free unlimited storage as long as you are storing images in 1080mp and videos in 1080px. If the resolution exceeds that limit, it will be counted against your 15GB free space.

google one

Plans:

The plan is simple and cheap. You get 100GB for $1.99, 200GB for $2.99, and 2TB for $9.99 per month. It is to be noted that the above plan was already available in developing countries like India where 100GB plan costs ₹130/mon. Those who are subscribed to the 1TB plan will be upgraded to 2TB at no additional cost.

Google One is not available everywhere and they have announced on their blog that the rollout will be completed in the next few months.

Features:

Google will now offer Google One customers access to experts that are supposed to help customers with products and services. You will get free credits for Play Store as well as deals on hotels that pop up on Google search. More details are in the pipeline.

It seems Google is preparing to partner with a number of service providers to make Google One more than just a cloud storage platform. Google will benefit here when compared to OneDrive because the former also has a firm grasp in Mobile OS and apps industry.

Google One plan can be shared with your family members so you will be charged only once a month. As a paid Google One member, you also get access to live chat support and the plan will be shared between a max of 5 family members.

This should help use those extra gigs lying unused in your account otherwise. If Google One is not available in your country, you can sign up here for updates.

The cloud storage space will be used between Gmail, Drive, Photos, and G Suite. You can create, save, and share files with others. There are editing and collaborative features with secure access.

User Experience

Google Drive is available on every platform and device you own and everything remains in sync. Google also offers office suite which comes with Docs, Slides, Forms, and Sheets that directly compete with Microsoft’s Office 365.

The only issue I have noticed is the sync. It works but sometimes, I think when files are particularly large, upload and sync act slower than my ISP speed. I am not sure why it happens but it does happen and it is not an isolated case either. Not a deal breaker but something to consider.

Apart from this, Google also has a number of other apps and services like Calendar and Keep (note taking) that will use storage space.

2. Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive offers 5GB of free space which doesn’t sound like much when you compare it with Google’s 15GB.

Plans

Where Google Drive is free for up to 15GB and as you buy more space, you can automatically create and save more Docs and Sheets, it is not so with OneDrive. Microsoft dominates the PC OS industry like Google does the mobile OS and search industry.

You get 50GB for $1.99 after which you enter Office365 plans. Office 365 users get 1TB of space and an office suite that they can install on 1 machine (PC or Mac) and 1 tablet and phone for $6.99/mon; it is $9.99 for 5 users.

onedrive

Features

If Google has Docs and Sheets, Microsoft has Office 365 but Google also has Photo with unlimited space for backup. With the number of photos that the current generation is clicking, Google has played its cards smartly.

Windows OneDrive and eventually Office 365 is tightly integrated with Windows office available on Windows 8 and 10 OS for PCs. OneDrive is a no-brainer for those who are already working with Office Suite because this way, you get free access to Office 365.

User Experience

One Drive was designed for Windows originally and it reflects in their apps and software for Mac and iOS platforms. There is lack of consistency in design and usability. OneDrive sync is slightly better than Google Drive at the time of writing this article.

Let’s discuss third-party apps. This is where OneDrive loses it badly. Microsoft works on a licensing system and nothing is free. Google, on the other hand, thrives on ad revenue and pretty much everything is free. This allows developers to integrate their apps and software with Google Drive more easily, and freely, then OneDrive.

In the end, it comes down to one thing. If you are an Office 365 user, OneDrive is for you, otherwise, there are better options.

3. Dropbox

If you thought 5GB in the free plan was less, you are in for a shocker. Dropbox offers only 2GB in the free plan. But, there are a number of ways to increase this space to 16GB. You will have to do a number of things like refer friends, download and install some apps. It is not pretty but doable.

Read: How to Use Dropbox to Host a Simple HTML Website

Plans

Dropbox offers a limited number of plans to choose from. In fact, there are only two plans. You will get 1TB for $9.99/mon (Plus) and for $19.99 (Pro), you will again get 1TB. Wait, what? The difference lies in the features so let’s move to the next section.

dropbox

Features

For the first plan, files will have a 30-day version history which means you can recover an older version of the file for up to 30 days. It is 120 days for the later. You get smart sync in the Pro plan where you don’t have to download the whole folder but you can still access all the files. This will save space and comes as a boon for Mac users who have less hard drive space.

You also get priority chat support and full-text search. The latter will help you search inside files for a piece of text, say a phone number or an email id.

User Experience

Steve Jobs wanted to buy Dropbox but was rejected which resulted in the birth of iCloud. The rest is history. Dropbox is the darling child of the cloud storage world. Expensive, yes, but offers a seamless sync experience that simply works. Dropbox enjoys a loyal fan following, very similar to Apple!

While Google and Microsoft both have a suite of office apps, Dropbox just has Paper. A note-taking app that promises to help you collaborate with others. It has a minimalist design which is cool but fades when you compare it with what the Microsoft and Google have to offer.

On the plus side, developers love Dropbox to death and most apps support Dropbox right out of the box. Dropbox is for those who have the money to throw around and want a no-hassle cloud storage system with no use for office apps.

Apple iCloud

As mentioned, Apple failed to acquire Dropbox but they do have iCloud. It is noteworthy that Apple has an agreement with Google where they will be using their servers to store ‘chunks’ of iCloud files.

The rumor has been doing the rounds since 2007. Apple also uses Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS to store part of that data. Yeah, I know. Why use iCloud when you can directly use Google Drive? Like OneDrive, you get 5GB of space with the free plan.

Plans

You can upgrade to 50GB for $0.99/mon, 200GB for $2.99/mon, and 2TB for $9.99/mon. This makes iCloud as cheap as Google Drive and the latter has reduced its prices only recently. So Apple did it first but failed to make the kind of waves that Google One announcement did. Why?

icloud

Features

iCloud is tightly integrated with the rest of the Apple ecosystem. All your iPhone, iPad, and Macbook backups and settings are saved in iCloud.

Apple offers iWork which is a suite of office apps that comes with Pages, Numbers, and Keynotes. Like everything Apple, they work amazingly well, they look pretty and minimalist making them more functional, and they are only available on Apple. The last one is where Apple loses browny points.

In a world where people are looking for cross-platform solutions so they can work anywhere, anytime, and from any machine, this poses a problem. You can access iCloud on a browser but that is not the same as an app on my Android. There is software for Windows but doesn’t offer the same experience.

Users have consistently reported about facing slower sync on iCloud than Dropbox. You can compare it to Google Drive which doesn’t come as a surprise seeing Apple doesn’t own an in-house solution.

Wrapping Up: Google Drive vs. Dropbox vs. OneDrive vs. iCloud

Which one should you use and why? They all have something to offer. Before you go comparing prices, understand this. You are not buying cloud storage, you are entering an ecosystem. Each company has spent decades building a number of products that go hand in hand with each other, showing little love for the competition.

Apple is more notorious in this respect. Look at the number of Google apps available on Apple and the number of Apple apps available on Google.

It is easy to narrow down your choices if you adopt the process of elimination. Are you using Office 365 to the extent where you spend most of your time working inside it? If so, OneDrive is for you.

Are you a Mac and iPhone user, a true Apple fan who doesn’t give a damn about Google, Android or Windows? iCloud will serve you well.

Are you a developer working with apps and software and need something that is easy to work with? Don’t care if the plan is a little expensive because time is of the essence to you? Dropbox is clean, minimalist and works nicely with all the platforms and OS. Probably because it is not owned by any of them!

Looking for something cheap but equally reliable with a host of products and services that are free to use and available on every platform? Google Drive is for you.

Did I miss something? What are you using and why? Share your experience below in the comments.

About Gaurav Bidasaria

Gaurav is a tech enthusiast who loves talking about new technologies and gadgets. He dropped out of CA because he found the work boring and monotonous! When he is not following crypto and blockchain tech, you can find him binge-watching Netflix or making travel plans.