Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive – Which one is the best?

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Fretty Francis

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: August 26, 2020

With the amount of work that’s been piling up, the amount of data to maintain has also significantly risen. Document management software helps organize enormous data easily. However, as people who work in the corporate sector need to reserve a large number of files, storing them in the phone or laptop, or even a desktop is not ideal.

Gadgets are known for giving up on functioning just when you desperately want to read a file or work on it. So this is where the cloud storage software comes into the picture. And in this battle of which cloud storage software is the best, we have 3 contenders. Hence the battle is between Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive.

Comparison Between Best Cloud Storage Services

1. The Number Game

If one looks at the numbers, then hands down, it is Google Drive that wins the game. By the year self, the company had already reached around 800 million monthly active users. On the other hand, Dropbox last stated that they had around 500 million registered customers, out of which, 11 million users paid for the services and this included 300,000 customers who had applied for business subscription. Meanwhile, OneDrive is used by only 115 million users worldwide. But because of the popularity of Office 365, these cloud storage services are subscribed by 85 percent of the companies listed in Fortune 500. This does speak volumes about the kind of services they have to offer.

But what one needs to bear in mind is that numbers don’t mean everything. Although all three cloud storage systems serve the same purpose, they use a different marketing approach to develop their storage service.

Now that it is known who stands where, when it comes to the number of people consuming it, let’s start analyzing how each of them differs from the other. The first thing that we’ll be taking into consideration is the price and how much storage it offers for the same. And let’s see who seems to do well in this battle against Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive.

2. Pricing

No matter which part of the world we go to, the first thing that everyone considers before buying anything: is the price. So while we compare the prices of all three, Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive, we’ll also be comparing the amount of storage they provide. Apart from that, we shall also take into consideration various plans each company has to offer.

PlansBasicPlusProfessional
Billed YearlyFree$9.99 per month$16.58 per month
Billed MonthlyFree$11.99 per month$19.99 per month
Cloud Storage:2GB2TB3TB

The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Dropbox, is how inflexible it is. If someone wishes to go for the basic plan which comes free of cost, the company only provides 2GB storage. In today’s times, 2GB has no value whatsoever. And on the other hand, if people do opt for a paid plan, then the storage they offer is 2TB. This too is something over-the-top because not everyone will require so much space or want to pay so much unnecessarily.

The other thing to observe is that, when the Professional plan increases two times, they offer 3TB storage along with additional features. This aspect is also quite debatable.

On the other hand, the business plans provided by Dropbox are way more flexible. The option to pay for a year in advance is also given, and alongside that, one even reaps the benefits of getting exciting discounts. The unlimited storage is mainly linked to the business plan and one may not be able to get that for professional use. Therefore, when it comes to business, and only business, Dropbox is considered to be the best choice.

PlansStandardAdvanced
Billed Yearly$12.50 / user / month$20 / user / month
Billed Monthly$15 / users / month$25 / user / month
Storage3TBAs much as you require

google_drive_pricing

Google Drive is quite generous in terms of providing storage. So, if one happens to own an Android phone or possess a Gmail account, then one automatically gets 15GB of free storage. Here, Google Drive offers 1TB for the same price that Dropbox offers. But, apart from that, Google also stretches its plans with more options. They happen to provide annual subscriptions along with discounts.

PlansBasicEnterprise
Cost$5$8 / active user / month + $0.04/GB
Storage30GBUnlimited
NotesN/AIf less than 5 users, storage is 1TB per user

The number of options provided by Google Drive is by far the most impressive amongst its competitors. Although some may find that the rates are a little on the higher side, one can expect things to change in the near future. If rumors are to be believed, then there are talks going on that Google is planning on rebranding Google Drive as Google One. People can expect new price ranges and more storage options. Moving ahead, let’s have a look at the business plans provided by Google Drive.

Google provides plans for business users, which comes under the brand, G Suite. For this, there is no minimum number of users required. But there’s a catch. In case, if one has a license for less than 5 users, then Google only provides with 1TB of storage per user instead of unlimited storage. So in the battle between Dropbox vs. Google Drive, one can clearly see that Google happens to be giving more options than its competitor.

OneDrive Basic
  •  5 GB Storage
Free
OneDrive 50GB
  •  50 GB Storage
$1.99 per month
Office 365 Personal
  • Comes with Office 365 Personal
  • 1 TB Storage
$6.99 per month

$69.99 per year

Office 365 Home
  • Comes with Office 365 Home
  • 6 TB Storage
$9.99 per month

$99.99 per year

This particular storage cloud offers 5GB free storage space. While OneDrive is taking $1.99 for 50GB storage space, Google is taking the same for 100GB. What’s considered a good bargain is the Office 365 plan. For $6.99 per month, getting 1TB storage and Office 365 is, in itself, a huge deal. The reason behind it is that for the same price, they also give access to the desktop versions of Microsoft Office products which include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc. Coming to their business deals, their plans seem are quite interesting.

OneDrive for Business

Plan 1

  • Storage: 1TB / user
INR 330 / user / month
OneDrive for Business

Plan 2

  • Storage: Unlimited
INR 660 / user/ month
Office 365 Business Premium
  • One license covers 5 PCs or Macs, 5 phones, and 5 tablets per user
INR 660 / user / month

The pricing is quite convenient, and people will find it affordable, but what draws attention are the two low-end subscription plans that do not happen to offer Office 365. The Premium plan also offers unlimited cloud storage and 50GB mailboxes along with custom domains. Apart from that, OneDrive happens to have its own sets of benefits. This way, when it comes to OneDrive vs. Google drive, we can see that both provide fairly decent deals that are beneficial to people.

Observations: After considering everything that the three have to offer, we can safely say that when it comes to luring potential customers with deals, Dropbox does a lousy job. Whereas if we are comparing OneDrive vs. Google Drive, then we can say that at least the two are doing the best they can by offering enticing deals and keeping ahead of the game. Although, Google Drive does seem to walk away with the prize in this segment.

Looking for Document Management Software? Check out SoftwareSuggest’s list of the best document management software solutions.

3. File Sharing

One can share pictures, films, and much more to other people by just granting file access to others. The basic working of file sharing is the same across all platforms. They usually rely on web links that take you to the folder or file. But this also has a flip side to it. If the links end up in the wrong hands, then it is possible that misuse of the same might occur. Therefore, to maintain privacy, there are other features like protecting it with a password or set expiry dates to the file/folder. So let’s see who takes the cake in the battle against Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive.

  • Dropbox

Dropbox makes use of a web interface to share stored objects. A ‘share’ button is attached to each file and folder in Dropbox. Once a person clicks on it, a shareable link is generated which can then be copied and pasted in emails, chats or even documents. Post this, the email addresses of people whom you want to send the file to, need to be mentioned. When sharing a folder, one also has the option of choosing whether the recipient can edit it or is only restricted to viewing.

While it has some great features to control access, they are only restricted to those who choose ‘Dropbox Professional’. The features are: one can include passwords, set expiry dates for links as well as disable the download option.

In order to keep a track of the number of files shared, one can make use of the “sharing” option. This also helps in quickly disabling the shares. So to sum it all up, the features are not that bad and they do serve a good purpose. Although it would be too idealistic, it wouldn’t harm much if the features were included in the basic plan as well.

  • Google Drive

The features are pretty much the same as the one before, where one can share the file link as well as control the settings. For example, if the opposite person is allowed to just view or edit as well. Options like disabling the download option and preventing others from adding new people are there in “advanced settings”. People can also attach the links of the folder/file in the mail body or a text.

For a cloud storing platform that has the maximum number of users and is considered to be quite impressive, the file sharing features are a bit of a letdown. Although one might wonder what the complaint is all about if the software is so good. The issue which is a little bothering is that there isn’t any safety feature. For example, having expiry dates and sharing files that are password protected, etc.

Apart from that, there is an option where one can view the files that have been shared with them by others, but the vice-versa is not there. Not being able to know what one has shared and with whom, this can be a little risky. When comparing who is better in the fight against Dropbox vs. Google Drive, it is evident that Dropbox stands out in the battle between the two.

  • OneDrive

OneDrive does include the safety feature which is not prevalent in Google Drive. At the same time, unlike Dropbox, one does not need to pay $20 subscription to get access to this feature. In the ‘permission’ option, one is allowed to make the necessary changes. In case, if one needs to share a particular file with a larger audience, then the links can be shared on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. People can view both, the files that were shared with them and the files they shared with others by clicking on the “shared” options. The only miss is that there is no option to limit the people who can download a particular file. And the other element that is a put off is that it does not come with a file request feature. One could possibly put OneDrive vs. Dropbox as two competitors worthy of fighting the other. Let’s see who emerges to be victorious.

Observations: While comparing who is better in the fight against Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive, one can surely see a clear winner for this segment. Google Drive seems to have lost out in this race due to lack of some basic requirements. Security issues can cause privacy concerns and this is exactly why Google Drive seems to have missed out on scoring well in this section.

What’s disappointing in Dropbox is that one needs to subscribe to the Dropbox Professional plan to get access to advanced link controls. When it comes to OneDrive, it is a little disappointing that they have not included the feature where one can send a request to get access to a file. Therefore the comparison between OneDrive vs. Dropbox, if one had to choose a winner, it would undoubtedly be OneDrive. Features like assigning passwords to links and selecting an expiry date for a file or folder, easily convince users why they need to opt for OneDrive. The software that deserves to come second, is Dropbox.

4. Synchronization of Files

Apart from keeping hard drives empty, there are also other features that one needs to take into consideration while getting cloud storage software. Synchronization of files is another aspect that will be looked into while debating. File synchronization, a staple aspect of enterprise content management software, helps to distribute the changes made in real-time, across other devices that are connected to the storage account. Let’s check out who stands out in the battle between Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive.

  • Dropbox

The person who originally invented the sync model in cloud storage services was the founder of Dropbox, Drew Houston. Now, getting to the basics, there is a special folder in the file system of the computer where, if one happens to place any document, then that file will not only be saved on their hard drive but also in the cloud. Dropbox is extremely reliable. There are no instances of file names getting mixed up or going missing. Since there is no capsize on how large a file must be, sync works perfectly fine for all kinds of files. But, if files are uploaded from websites, then the cap is put at 20GB. Overall, the file synchronization feature in Dropbox does seem to be a catch.

When the system hinges on a local file, it means that it will take up space in the hard drive. But, Dropbox deals with it in a smooth way. There is a feature called “selective sync” which, when selected, allows people to turn off file synchronization and makes folders available only when online.

dropbox

  • Google Drive

This cloud storage software makes use of the same model that was invented by Dropbox. It creates a similar cloud connecting folder in the file system. They are not available for desktop clients of Linux. The Google drive has the backing of a global server network, which makes up for speedy full-file transfers. Although, there is a slight issue where file edits take time to sync, and this is mainly because it is not capable of possessing block-level file copies.

When it’s Dropbox vs. Google Drive, one cannot compare the features of Google Drive to that of Dropbox, especially the smart sync feature. But, Google does selective sync which helps clear space in the hard drive. Apart from that, Google allows people to slow the upload and download bandwidth from the settings features, in case the Drive is draining the system resources.

google_drive

But the small advantage that Google Drive has over its two competitors is that it comes with a file backup. This helps in one-directional uploads right from the desktop to the cloud.

  • OneDrive

This cloud storage system’s sync folder works just like any other cloud storage. The storage software has block-level sync for file edits in Microsoft file types. Although, it would be convenient if they’d make it open for all file types and not just Microsoft. If the sync is turned off then no one can view the folder that is synced with OneDrive, which is good in a way, as people can end up saving quite a lot of space in their hard drive. Apart from that, OneDrive also allows people to control the synchronization speed. While looking at whose done better between OneDrive vs. Google Drive, OneDrive happens to provide block-level encryption which seems to be a better bet between the two. But if we look at who’s doing better between OneDrive vs. Dropbox, then the latter does prove to be a better choice.

onedrive

Observations: After comparing Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive, it is clear that Dropbox seems to have beaten the other two at file copying and therefore steals the show. Coming to who is better in the fight of OneDrive vs. Google Drive, Google does not provide block-level encryption which is the reason why it does not qualify in this round. So if one were to choose who might come second, then OneDrive would be the second best choice in this regard. While there are little hiccups here and there, one cannot deny that Dropbox deserves credit. With the block-level file copying and smart sync, it sure trumps its competitors. Although, it would be appreciated if smart sync wasn’t just for those who opt for Dropbox Professional.

5. Privacy Settings

Although this point has come much towards the end of the debate, security is considered one of the vital elements to look out for when selecting cloud storage software. Security was something that wasn’t taken seriously until the NSA’s PRISM program came into the light. In this digital age when data is extremely precious, one needs to provide that kind of safety when offering cloud storage services. Let’s see who does a better job of providing proper security between Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive.

  • Dropbox

Intransit and at-rest are the two places where encryption takes place in Dropbox. In-transit encryption secures the data that is transferred online. These files are protected by TLS, which means “transport layer security”. The problem at hand is that the encryption standard differs when the file is in-transit and while at rest. This means that they use a different encryption protocol. This is not considered to be safe whatsoever. This is done to extract metadata which serves as indices that help retrieve files quickly. But when it is stored, it is done so in plain text, which means that if hacked into or if sent to the wrong person, they might be privy to details that don’t need to be public.

Apart from that, coming towards the other issue at hand, Dropbox possesses the encryption key. This shouldn’t be the case as the encryption key allows file previews and edits. From what we see here, in the battle against Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive

  • Google Drive

Google Drive has two-factor verification which can be activated from the settings. After enabling it, one will require to enter a code for security reasons for new machine login. One will be notified about it via a text or another mobile app.

Apart from the others, one can observe how Google takes security very seriously. They have also included biometric scanners as well as laser grids. But after saying that, if one happens to glance through their terms and conditions section, they mention that the company is allowed to scan the users’ data as well as their emails. While this helps in detecting illegal content, what we don’t realize is that the users’ data is also used by Google for targeted marketing. In the fight between Dropbox vs. Google Drive, Dropbox seems like a much better and a safer bet.

  • OneDrive

For personal subscribers, the data is not encrypted when at rest. This does seem a point of concern as Microsoft has always been a soft target for hackers. Since the files don’t remain encrypted, it is advisable to either opt for Dropbox or Google Drive. Boxcryptor, a private encryption service which is compatible with all three systems can be made use of in this case. But the only issue that will occur is that it might limit the use of Office Online. It also protects against password theft where one will receive the security code either via a text or an e-mail. When it comes to OneDrive vs. Google Drive, comparing them would do no good as both of them sort of miss out on some necessary elements that have been considered by Dropbox. Although, in the battle between OneDrive vs. Dropbox, one can clearly see that it would be beneficial to vouch for Dropbox.

Observations:

In terms of who provides the best security, this seems to be a little tricky, because there are loopholes found in all systems at one point or another. Looking at the bigger issues, when it comes to OneDrive vs. Google Drive, they do seem less secure as one sifts through the data while the other won’t encrypt it when at rest. It’s tricky to think whom one should root for, between Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive. But as the concerns were mentioned above, it is evident that one would be drawn towards first thinking about Dropbox instead of the other two. No matter what one goes for, it is advisable to make use of Boxcryptor to construct a private safe-box.

The Conclusion

Now comes the part everyone’s been waiting for: who wins the ultimate battle of Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive. Although it does become a little difficult to pick one, there’s always just one winner. The margin was pretty close, but OneDrive does seem to be walking away with the price as the best cloud storage software. But do not take everything said here as the Gospel truth, because people’s needs and priorities trump everything else. Based on the requirement of the people, they need to opt for a system that supports them. This little debate was just to set the records straight of the age-old debate that has been following since quite some time. And if you are thinking whether we have chosen a runner-up, then yes. In the battle against Dropbox vs Google Drive, the software that comes second is Dropbox. Although, due to many people owning Gmail accounts, it is Google Drive that walks away with a maximum number of users.

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Fretty Francis is a digital marketing and content strategist at SoftwareSuggest, a software recommendation platform. She's passionate about analytics, conversion rate optimization and ice-cream.

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