These days, the cloud is increasingly being used by people for saving valuable data. From personal experience, I know that hardware such as hard drives or flash drives can not be relied upon. So cloud storage offers a good alternative for data backup. There are lots of such services available, with the big giants such as Microsoft and Google leading the market. So the big question is, which one is better? Dropbox, Google Drive or SkyDrive? Let’s take a closer look.
First impression: Storage space
In terms of storage space, SkyDrive seems to have the biggest bang for buck (or should I say non-buck, because it’s free!). SkyDrive gives you a 7 GB storage, and if you install the app, you will get 25 GB for free! This is huge, compared to DropBox’s 2 GB and Google Drive’s 5 GB.
DropBox allows you to upload files of any size through the desktop client, whereas SkyDrive limits this to 2 GB, and Google Drive limits it to 5 GB. SkyDrive and DropBox, however, limit browser uploads to 300 MB only.
For additional storage space at an extra cost, SkyDrive does have the biggest bang for buck. You can get an extra 20 GB for $10 per year, 50 GB for $25 per year, and 100 GB for $50 per year. Google Drive is somewhat more expensive. You can get an extra 25 GB for $2.49 per month, 100 GB for $4.99 per month, and 1 TB for $24.99 per month.
DropBox has the most expensive packages. You can get an extra 50 GB for $9.99 per month or $99 per year, and an extra 100 GB for $19.99 per month or $199 per year. However, DropBox provides free additional space as well. You get an extra 500 MB for every friend you refer to DropBox, up-to 16 GB (click o this link to find out more). And if you connect your college email account (with edu extension), you can get as much as 25 GB for two years (click to find out more).
Backup and file history
Both Google Drive and DropBox have a backup feature. They will backup your files, and if you accidentally delete them, you can recover them within the next 30 days. These services will even save previous versions of your files, so suppose you edited a document, but regretted it because you deleted some valuable information within the document. There’s no need to worry! You can recover a previous version of that document. SkyDrive has no such features, which is kind of a let-down.
Platforms and integration
All the three have clients available for most popular services, such as Windows, Mac, Android, iOS etc. So no big issue there. But as far as integration goes, DropBox is lagging behind. SkyDrive offers integration with Hotmail (email attachments etc) and other such services, and so does Google Drive, which is integrable with many Google products. DropBox though, needs third party apps for extra functionality.
This is a very useful feature, and I like to see it in a cloud storage. With selective sync, you can sync files with your online storage, and then choose what to sync back to your PC or mobile device. I prefer to keep the large files on the server, so that they won’t be downloaded. Both Google Drive and DropBox have this feature. Sadly though, SkyDrive doesn’t, which is probably the reason I use it minimally.
Files and formats
Google Drive has advanced text searching features, and can even detect and search image written in an image! SkyDrive can also search text, but only in documents. DropBox, however, only allows you to search file names.
All these cloud services support popular formats such as word documents, PDF files, etc. Google Drive, however, supports more than 30 file formats, and can view files such as Photoshop files and AutoCAD drawings.
Sharing and security
Both Google Drive and DropBox can enable 2-step verification, so even if someone knows your password, he still can’t get in. DropBox also keeps a log of what changes (if any) were made. There’s no such option on SkyDrive, however.
As far as sharing goes, all the three are somewhat equal, and provide various ways of sharing files and cotent. DropBox has integration with Facebook, so you can share your files on a group. All three allow collaborative work, so multiple users can work on the same files at once.
Usability and speed
And finally, the usability. All the three are easy to use, but DropBox seems to be easiest and most convenient by far, followed by SkyDrive and then Google Drive. Dropbox has a decent upload speed, and you can see the progress of your files being uploaded or downloaded. The download speed, however, is slow, and will not max out your connection. Google Drive has the best download speed, but it does not show you your upload progress, so you never know if there’s just a minute left, or a hour or a day. It will, however, show how many files are done/left. And Google Drive might well max out your internet connection. SkyDrive has a decent download speed too, making DropBox lose in this regard.
The way we see it, all these services serve their own purposes, so you might as well use all of them. Google Drive can be used for documents, and mainly large files that you can keep backed up, and then easily download later at a fast speed. DropBox is better at everyday tasks and documents, and same goes for SkyDrive. But if you want selective sync, go for DropBox.
Tell us what you think of these different cloud services in the comments below. If you were to choose between the three, which would you choose?