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Google Drive, SkyDrive or Dropbox: which is the best?
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 06 May 2012

Google Drive, SkyDrive or Dropbox: which is the best?


For Windows users there are three main services: Dropbox, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, and Google Drive. All of them are quite similar.

You get several gigabytes of free storage just for signing up. By installing a small Windows app you get the ability to synchronize that storage with the hard drive on your PC, where you can manage them using Windows Explorer. You can sync files and folders with other PCs and Macs, access them from mobile devices, and share them with other people.

But there are some important differences among those services. And depending on how you want to use an online file storage service, some might be a better fit than others.

Dropbox main features:

Default storage: 2 GB, with additional space for referrals and activities
Additional storage: Free; Pro packages available in tiers of 50/100 GB for $99/$199 per year
Online document editing: No
Private/public sharing: Yes
Photo features: Yes
Native clients: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry

SkyDrive - Microsoft

Default storage: 7 GB (25 GB free as a “loyalty reward” for current users)
Additional storage: Extra storage available in 20/50/100 GB increments, at $10/$25/$50 per year, respectively
Online document editing: Yes, with Office Web Apps
Private/public sharing: Yes
Photo features: Yes
Native clients: Windows, iOS, Windows Phone, Mac; Android apps via third parties

Google Drive - Google

Default storage: 5 GB
Additional storage: Extra storage available in tiers from 25 GB ($30/year) and 100 GB ($60/year) all the way up to 16 TB ($9,600 per year)
Online document editing: Yes, with Google Docs
Private/public sharing: Yes
Photo features: No (photo sharing is through Picasa and Google+)
Native clients: Windows, Mac, Android

Document creation and editing

Both Google and Microsoft offer the ability to create and edit a variety of document types directly in a web browser. With Dropbox, you can view common formats but you need third-party apps to enable the same editing scenarios.

Online viewing and editing means you don’t need to worry about whether you’ll have the right app installed—if you can open your online file storage location in a browser, you can get your work done.

Each of the three services allows you to share a file with another person (or a group of people). So if you’re passing around a presentation or a spreadsheet, each member of the team can make changes and add comments.

Photo uploads and galleries

Both Dropbox and SkyDrive have made substantial investments in their respective services’ capabilities for uploading, organizing and sharing digital photos. These capabilities include strong links to social media services such as Facebook and Twitter. Google Drive is not such good in this feature. Although there are very good photo-sharing capabilities in Google+, but those features aren’t integrated with Google Drive, and Google’s integration with other social media is weak.

File sharing

The ability to set up sharing for specific folders and control access to those folders on a per-user basis makes it relatively easy to share files online with friends and co-workers.

The simplest benefit, of course, is replacing large email attachments with simple links. Having a password-protected central folder makes team-based collaborative scenarios possible as well, with fewer version-control headaches.

And, of course, the ability to make a shared file available to the general public makes it possible to use an online file-sharing service as an FTP alternative.
Backup, sync, and remote access

The simplest scenario of all is personal file backup. Keeping your important files in a folder that is continually synchronized with an online storage service gives you a backup security blanket. If your local drive crashes, you can recover those files quickly and easily.

A side benefit of this approach is that it allows you to access files easily from multiple devices. If you have a desktop PC and a notebook, for example, you can start working on a file in your office. Whatever changes you make are synchronized to the online copy. Grab your notebook, head off to the airport, and you can pick up where you left off—as long as you have access to an Internet connection. Because all three services have apps that allow access from mobile devices, you can accomplish the same task with a tablet or a mobile phone.

And of course, there are some other online storages, like ADRIVE, (50 gigs of free space), Box, Office 365 and the others.

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