Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are three of the most popular cloud storage providers available today, but which is best?
We’ll take a look at the features that make each platform great, as well as their positive and negative attributes.
Now, picking the best out of Google Drive vs Dropbox vs OneDrive is no easy task because they are the most popular selected cloud storage for both personal and business users.
So, how do you choose which one of them is the best for your needs?
Well, I can’t give you an easy answer, but I can walk you through a comprehensive comparison between these three, so you can choose what’s best for you.
TLDR; Jump to our comparison scoreboard directly. Find out who’s the winner in Google Drive vs Dropbox vs Onedrive battle.
Small Introduction – Three Prominent Cloud Storage
You’ve probably been introduced to Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
We’ve reviewed and talked about these services before and have highlighted them in the free cloud storage.
Yes, they are free to a certain extent and what makes them the big guns in the cloud storage space is the strength of their standard features.
By standards, I mean that all of these cloud storage services come with Sync Folder, Folder Sharing, File Link Sharing, and Versioning.
If you don’t know what is versioning – it stores different types of the same file version, allowing you to undo mistakes, for example, a typo in a document or see changes you made by opening an older file copy.
Thus, these standard features make Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive a trendy choices when it comes to cloud storage space.
However, here’s what makes each of them different from one other.
Here are the basics:
Launched in 2012, it was free to use as long as you have a Google account that allows you to store files up to 15GB.
Google Drive does offer more storage, but we’ll reveal more about it later.
Google Drive will enable you to save and share any kind of file with anyone as well as enables you to collaboratively edit documents, forms, spreadsheets, and slideshows presentations on their native office applications.
It is available on Windows, OS X, and apps on iOS and Android.
On a side note, Google Drive storage services have been rebranded to Google One.
Google rebranded Google Drive service pricing plans to Google One, giving it a brand of its own. Read more in our Google Drive review.
The paid plans are termed “Google One” but the cloud storage itself is still named Google Drive.
Similar to Google Drive, they offer 2GB storage in their free accounts known as Dropbox Basic.
Dropbox started in 2007. They do offer paid services which we will discuss further later.
You can use their services to store and share files with anyone as well as sync files automatically.
Excellent sharing and syncing capabilities but at a conventional security measure as from our Dropbox review per se.
Dropbox has apps on Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android as well as smaller ones like Kindly Fire, Linux, and Blackberry.
Previously known as SkyDrive, it started in 2014 as part of Microsoft’s service.
You will get 5GB free with a Microsoft account, but if you’re an Office 365 subscriber, you will have access to 1TB of storage.
Similarly, we will discuss further their other service options later on. OneDrive enables you to store any files and organizes them based on the file type.
It’s currently available on OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android.
These three can be used for free but if you’re looking to upgrade and you want to know how they differ, let’s take a look in detail now.
Number of Users [GDrive v Dropbox v Onedrive]
The number says all about these 3 big brothers in the cloud storage industry.
Together they have over 2.1 billion users, including paid and free around the world.
Though there’s no way to verify the numbers, I do believe the actual figure will be higher.
Do you know there are only 4.6 billion internet users in the world as of May 2020?
3 of them take up half the internet users worldwide and of course, there are good reasons for it as we’ll be discussing below.
1. [Google Drive will hit a billion users this week]↩
2. [Dropbox Announces Fiscal 2019 Third Quarter Results]↩
3. [Microsoft’s OneDrive changes: Follow the money]↩
Storage & Cost
As promised, we will discuss the pricing. Which include the plan costs as well as how much storage you’ll get in this range of plans.
But first things first, all three of them provide personal and business plans.
However, this article will focus more on personal use.
We’ll still look a little bit into the business plans to give more variety of choice prospects for those who want to know more about it.
As seen above, the prices are self-explanatory.
Google One lengthens its cost plan with more subscription options for more flexibility.
Not to mention, annual subscription options are available with discounts that are a huge advantage in high adaptability for so many users out there.
As previously mentioned, Google One plans allow you to share the subscription of up to 5 family members.
Each member will get their own storage space while maintaining all the privacy individually. Google One subscribers will also receive express support access and other wondrous perks.
As already indicated, this article will focus more on personal use, so Google does provide storage plans for business users who are parked under the G Suite Brand.
Nonetheless, these plans won’t be combined with Google One.
Dropbox may be reasonable in its price plans, but one of the things that stick out from them is the stiffness of its storage plans.
Yes, they do offer 2GB of free space in their Dropbox Basic plan!
But when it comes to Dropbox Plus and Professional, it’s a tremendous amount of storage of 2TB to 3TB.
Some of the highlight features are smart sync, 120-day versioning, and easy-to-use in shared link settings.
Not to mention, when it comes to subscription cost changes, Dropbox usually only increases rates.
In terms of their business plans, they offer a more versatile approach as they provide either a 2TB or unlimited cloud storage plans, but they require a minimum of 3 users.
Similar to the other two, OneDrive offers a free storage plan, 5GB.
As you can see above, the cheapest plan starts at $1.99 per month for 100GB, moving to the next one which is the 1TB storage space for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year, as well as 6TB for $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
The difference is that 1TB and 6TB plans offer a year-long subscription to the full Office 365.
It may seem annoying and unnecessary to pay extra for a bunch of software but it’s quite a nice added bonus.
It’s quite enticing as it drives up the value of these storage plans that give you access to Microsoft Office Products.
In terms of the business subscription plans, the setup is very similar to the personal plan, but they just offer more storage space.
Other perks are included, such as unlimited storage space, custom domains for mailboxes, and other premium perks.
File & Folder Sharing
Granting file access is one of the golden rules when it comes to cloud storage features.
So, let’s take a look at Google Drive vs Dropbox vs OneDrive under the accessibility category.
Known as one of the most popular cloud storage, Google Drive offers surprisingly mediocre file-sharing characteristics.
It enables you to generate links for files and folders as well as permit permissions such as edit, comment, or view.
You can modify the permissions by clicking ‘more’ which allows you to alter the link-sharing features.
In the sharing settings, you can permit access by entering an email address.
Moreover, there are more options in the “advanced sharing settings” to disable downloads and prevent editors from adding new users.
You can also share the link via Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter.
Their features are straightforward and easy to use.
It doesn’t take a lot to figure out how to use it.
Granting access to files allows other users to collaborate by suggesting comments and edits.
The feature concept is very effortless, but it can be a bit of a risk because they do not offer passwords and expiry dates on the shared links.
Not to mention when it comes to seeing which files and folders are being shared by you, it can’t be seen, but there’s a sharing page to see which files and folders are shared with you.
As a result, it can be easy to lose sight of which files and folders you’ve shared unless you check them one by one, which can be a nuisance.
With Dropbox, you can only share files and folders using the web interface. Similar to Google Drive, each file and folder has a shared button.
All you have to do is click it to generate a shared link, which you can copy and paste into emails, chat, documents, social media, or other locations.
On the other hand, you can also enter the email addresses of the other users you want to allow access.
If you’re going to share a folder, you can either allow view-only or edit access.
One of the most useful parts of Dropbox is that it does present a few file-sharing features to control access.
That includes passwords and expiry dates for shared links and the option to disable downloads.
However, these features are available if you get Dropbox Professional, which is quite a bummer.
If you ever want to track your shared files, you can use the Dropbox “sharing” page. Under the “links” tab, you can quickly disable shares whereas the “file” and “folder” tabs display the data shared with you.
Under the “file requests” page, you can request files from others by leaving a request description, inputting a designated folder, and adding a deadline.
All in all, Dropbox does offer helpful features, especially in their sharing feature, but it would be great if they included them in the Dropbox Plus plan.
Compare to the other two, OneDrive does offer secured file-sharing tools that Google Drive does not have, and unlike Dropbox, it doesn’t require extra cost to access them.
You can authorize access by generating a shared link or using an email address. Either way, you can add passwords and expiry dates if you want to create shared links to limit access.
There’s also a permission option to allow edits and the access links can be automatically posted on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and others if you want to share with a wider audience.
Moreover, you can also review files shared by you and others under the OneDrive “shared” view online.
Be that as it may, OneDrive doesn’t offer a file request feature.
According to some, it’s because the feature is patented under Dropbox [US20160308881A1] since 2015.
It may be better than the other two when it comes to filing and folder-sharing features – OneDrive wins!
Let’s be clear about one thing: cloud storage is not just about making space on your device or laptop, but it is also about distributing your data in near real-time across all devices for easy access and simplicity.
Thus to the next point, let’s take a look at Google Drive vs Dropbox vs OneDrive in terms of their storage synchronization feature.
The concept was clear and straightforward – to sync all files stored on your hard drive and in the cloud. Google Drive is accessible through a browser, a mobile app, or a desktop app.
The desktop apps are available for Windows and macOS, but not Linux.
Similar to Google Drive, Dropbox can also be accessed through any web browser, desktop app, or mobile app.
However, it was Dropbox that came up with the desktop app idea first before the other two implemented it as well.
Along the same lines, you can upload any files by drag and drop feature into Dropbox.
They will be synched immediately, leaving a local copy on your device. You can also share files and folders through a shared link or email invite, and you can collaborate and edit Microsoft Office Online files, which is similar to Google tools like Google docs and spreadsheets.
Dropbox also offers a “selective sync” option that allows you to turn sync off to specific files and folders that makes them available online only.
To sum up, one of the best qualities of Dropbox is that it not only syncs fast but it’s more reliable than the other two.
If you are a Windows user, you automatically have a OneDrive desktop app. Although, you can remove it.
Similar to the other two, it works the same. It has the drag and drops feature, and you can sync to the cloud and other synced devices.
You can access OneDrive through a desktop app, website, and mobile app.
You can also selectively sync files, and you can configure them using the desktop app setting tool.
Overall, its features are very basic and straightforward to use.
However, OneDrive runs sync more smoothly than the other two, especially when it comes to Microsoft Office files.
Now that we’ve discussed the fundamental elements of useful cloud storage features.
Let’s see how Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive do in terms of application integration.
Cloud storage providers must offer applications as it facilitates productivity and better collaborations. Let’s take a look!
Google One Drive web interface is very easy to use. You can see all the features on the web interface, and it doesn’t take a minute or two to figure out how it works.
As you can see above, all the left-side features allow you to access your cloud drives such as your recent files, starred files, shared files, and backup files as well.
You can click on the “new” button to create a new folder or file.
When it comes to using files such as documents, spreadsheets, or presentation slides, Google Drive does offer excellent office software.
Not to mention, you can access these files on any device as long as you have downloaded the Google Drive app.
If you prefer using Microsoft Office, there’s a Google Drive plugin that syncs with both Office Online and Office 365, which is pretty amazing.
Similarly to Google Drive, it offers the same navigation method, but you can find the links on the left side vertically.
The links in the image above are pretty self-explanatory.
If you select the “files” option, it will take you to another page where you can access the files directly.
Unlike Google Drive and OneDrive, Dropbox doesn’t have its office suite, but it does come with Microsoft Office online integration.
In other words, you can edit files using Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
Not only that, you can access these files using Microsoft Office Online on the Dropbox app on any device.
One of the best features of OneDrive is that they have one of the most beautiful-looking web interfaces among other cloud storage providers.
IMHO, I think pCloud has the cleanest and easiest to use interface. It’s hard to judge since beauty is at the eyes of beholder.
Similarly, like the additional two cloud storage, there are links on the left side where you can view stored files and others as featured above.
Since OneDrive is part of Microsoft, there is a chat icon at the top that can launch Skype sessions, if you have a Skype account.
There are also other Office 365 apps you can access such as Outlook, Calendar, Microsoft Office, and others apps.
Office Online is a web-based version of Microsoft Office that you can use.
If you prefer desktop versions of the different types of Office software, you will need Office 365 subscriptions.
Privacy & Security
By all means, what’s the point of all this cloud storage if it’s not going to be secured?
The bad news is that these three cloud storage doesn’t support zero-knowledge encryption.
That means hackers can get into your storage and access all of your stored files.
Here are some of the World’s most-secured cloud storage that hackers can’t get their hands on.
When it comes to your privacy, Google, Dropbox, and Microsoft have implemented GDPR policies.
Google Drive implements a TLS cryptographic protocol to encrypt files while in transit to prevent online snooping.
The files are encrypted with AES 256-bit when transferring, but when it’s at rest, it uses 128-bit.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter which one is being used because both of these are uncrackable.
Moreover, Google provides a two-factor verification, so that’s a great extra layer of protection.
Though Google offers ample security, it’s still not enough to go along for the ride.
Likewise, Dropbox utilizes AES 128-bit when the files are in transit.
When files are at rest, Dropbox uses AES 256-bit for encryption.
Dropbox also offers two-step verification and adjustable security settings in the desktop app to protect yourself.
It may sound repetitive, but the files are encrypted during transit using AES 256-bit.
It’s a shame though there was no encryption for OneDrive consumers at rest.
They also offer two-step verification to protect against password theft.
But it’s so common that it doesn’t provide concrete security features.
Comparison Scoreboard of Google Drive vs Dropbox vs Onedrive
0 encrypt [rest]
1 Winner of the respective category takes 3 points
2 Runner-up of the respective category takes 1 point
3 Third place in the respective category takes 0 points
4 It’s not comprehensive to decide a winner in the Security section
Choosing between Google One vs Dropbox vs OneDrive eventually depends on your need to store and back up your files.
It seems like Google One, Dropbox, or even Onedrive is more of a Windows-based or Android application.
Here’s our take on the best cloud storage for Mac as well if that concerns you.
And of course, how much you’re willing to pay.
When it comes to pricing, Google Drive beats the other two.
Where did Amazon Cloud Drive’s stance? Find out here in the Amazon Cloud Drive review.
But if you prefer to use Microsoft Office software, then OneDrive offers the best in terms of file sharing and editing.
Google Drive beats the other two when it comes to collaboration, and now that it has been rebranded as Google One, it provides more premium perks for users.
When it comes to privacy, all three of them are just not as convincing as the cloud storage for apple users.
If you really need private cloud storage, check out my NAS vs cloud storage for more ideas and how I set up my very first home NAS with DS220j.
Sync.com does a pretty good job of giving you private and secure cloud storage at an affordable price.
But if you are looking for a secure lifetime plan, make sure you check out pCloud vs Icedrive here.
We constantly monitor the performance and reliability of more than 20+ cloud storage services and come out with a small list of the best cloud storage from our picks.