Skydrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox?
Online storage and sync services solve a lot of problems for users who work and play on multiple devices. The premise is simple: store all your data in one place that can be accessed from wherever you are, using whatever device you have with you. But which one of the big three cloud storage players is best for you?
Which Cloud Storage Service is Best?
Storing files online adds convenience and productivity for users who travel, or use different computing devices in different places. No more forgetting an important business document at home; emailing files to yourself; or keeping track of multiple copies of a file on different devices. The idea is that as long as you have an internet connection, you have access to your files. It doesn’t matter if you’re using your home or office desktop, your road warrior laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. The latest version of your document, spreadsheet, presentation, music, image or video is ready and waiting to be accessed.
But the proliferation of online storage services means a host of confusing features and prices for large amounts of storage. Here, we look at three online storage services – Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive, and Dropbox – to see how they stack up in several feature sets that matter to users.
All three services give you a fair amount of free storage space, and charge a fee if you need more. Google Drive provides 5 GB free; Skydrive, 7 GB; and Dropbox, 2 GB free of charge. If text documents are all you need to sync, those free allotments are enough for most people. But music and video files eat up space quickly, so you may need to buy more space. For a total of 100 GB, Google Drive will set you back $59.88 per year. Skydrive charges $50/year for 100 GB. Dropbox wants $199 a year for 100 GB.
Winner: Skydrive offers the most free storage and the cheapest additional storage.
All three services let you share files with other users by creating hyperlinks to files and sending them to your acquaintances.
With Dropbox, you have to create a “shared folder” if you want others to be able to edit documents. Skydrive lets you make a file editable by some users and read-only by others. Google Drive lets you make a file editable by all or read-only by all.
Dropbox and Skydrive will create galleries of photo images that your friends can peruse. Google Drive does not have that amenity yet.
Winner: Skydrive offers the most options for sharing.
Google Drive not only indexes file names but also the content of about 30 different file types, so you can search for a file that contains a phrase or key words. Dropbox searches only file names. Skydrive can search the content of Microsoft files (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) but won’t even index the file names of other file types such as JPGs.
Winner: Google Drive offers the best search options
Dropbox offers its agent software for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, plus phone apps for Apple and Android devices. Dropbox also support Blackberries and direct Web access to your files.
Google and Microsoft support Windows and Mac computers. Micrsoft does not have a Skydrivie agent for Windows XP, nor does it support Android, but there is an iOS version.
Google does not have iPhone or iPad apps, but it’s supposed to be coming soon. You can use the mobile version of Google Docs in the browser.
Winner: Dropbox supports the most platforms with its agent software
Dropbox lets you restore files that you have deleted or overwritten. It keeps older (modified) versions of your files up to 30 days if you have a free account, or indefinitely if you have a paid account.
Skydrive gives you the option to compress larger image files to save transfer time and storage space.
Google Drive offers to convert your files into Google Docs format, which facilitates collaboration in real time. Also, files stored in Google format don’t count against your storage space allowance.
What About iCloud?
Mac users maybe wondering why I didn’t include the iCloud service in my comparison of cloud storage services. Simply put, it’s not in the same class as the others. True, it offers 5GB of free online storage space, with a paid option of $100/year for 55GB. But iCloud was designed primarily as a backup tool for iTunes. It will store and sync your Itunes music, apps and books. It also automatically backs up your email, contacts, and calendars, on Mac and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod). This also works on PCs, but only if you use MS Outlook.
The biggest limitation of iCloud is that you can’t throw just any file in there. Aside from the data I mentioned above, only files created in the Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps (on a Mac) can be synced to iCloud. For mobile users, only iOS devices are supported. And it’s highly unlikely that Apple will ever add support for Andrdoid or Windows mobile devices.
Which Is Best?
Overall, Google Drive's capabilities make it the best choice for both PC and Mac users who want to store lots of files online, particularly documents. The advacned search, easy collaboration and feature-rich editing tools put it over the top, in my estimation. But as the French say "Vive la différence!" If SkyDrive, Dropbox or iCloud has a specific feature that's really important to you, or the tool fits into your computing environment better, then go for it. All of them are secure, high-quality cloud storage options.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome! Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Jun 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Skydrive, Google Drive, or Dropbox? (Posted: 5 Jun 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved