Which Cloud Storage Service Is Best for You?

The cloud has revolutionized the technology industry as a whole—from huge enterprises using it to support their IT infrastructure to school-age children using it for remote learning. Among the first cloud services and my favorites to use are the “drive” services such as Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox. These services make it easy to safeguard your most important documents in a “set it and forget it” fashion. They also offer the ability to easily and securely share documents with colleagues, friends and family.

Years ago, you had to remember to make a backup of your files. For those that had the discipline to do it, it was still sporadic and not frequent enough. A stolen laptop would mean reverting back to three-week-old files (if you were lucky). These cloud-based drives solve that, many times for free.

These services all work in a similar way. You can log in to a website and upload files but most people will use the client that you install on your computer which creates a folder called “Dropbox,” “Google Drive,” or “OneDrive.” Whatever you drop in the folder gets synced up to the cloud therefore giving you access to all your files anywhere you are. All three services offer a mobile client for iOS and Android making it really easy to view, share, or even edit your files on the go.

I have used all three drives extensively and, to this day, I use all three of them for different reasons. I have also used them to sync and organize more data than most people will ever have so I am speaking from first-hand experience. I have a huge archive of photos and files dating back to 2004. I have shuffled data around, moved it from one provider to another and I have hit many bumps along the way.

Here, I’m going to compare the three big players in this arena and give you my recommendations and reasons for going with each one:

Google Drive

Because GMAIL is so wildly popular, and Google Drive comes with GMAIL, the number of users on Google Drive is really impressive. Different places cite different numbers but it’s safe to assume there are over 1 billion people using this service. I have been one of those users since the service launched in 2012.

The service does what it says. I have never had a service issue, never had an issue with my files being compromised (that I know of) and I trust this drive to host my family’s most precious memories by syncing my home movies and personal photos of more than 20 years. The fact that its integrated into your Google account is a huge plus. No other login, no other service. It’s all right there.

My least favorite component of Google Drive is the client you install on your computer. Google’s Backup and Sync allows you to access your Google Drive files as well as back up other folders on your computer. I have used it extensively and I always end up feeling like this client falls short of expectations. For one, it constantly gives me an exclamation point on the taskbar asking me to re authenticate or to fix something. Additionally, it often fails to open when I click on it. For someone who wants a “set it and forget it” product, this one falls short. With these problems, it’s not hard to have a situation where you lose your laptop and as you go to restore you realize your files had not been synchronizing for months.

Another thing I don’t like about Google Drive is the web interface. When you log in to drive.google.com you are greeted with “Quick Access” as well as a bunch of folders for G Suite products. I wish I could log in and just see the folder structure that matches my laptop and desktops. I always feel confused with the visibility in the web interface.

Sharing files with others can also be confusing. Countless times I have shared a file with someone only to have them come back and request access to the file. It’s a setting issue during the share and it’s not always clear on who has permissions and if they will need to request access again after you share the link with them.

Overall the Google Drive experience takes some getting used to but I could use it exclusively if I had to. I rate this a 7 / 10.

Pricing

  • 15 GB Free
  • 100 GB = $1.99/month
  • 2TB = $9.99/month

My favorite features

  • Integration with Google Products (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Etc)
  • Easy access while logged into GMAIL
  • Easy to share files
  • Reliability

Least Favorite Features

  • Web Interface
  • Sync Client
  • Speed

Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft OneDrive first launched in 2007 (under the name of Windows Live Folders). I use this service in my daily life as my employer is an Office365 subscriber. Overall, the experience is pleasant.

Similar to OneDrive, the client gives me some headaches. I use it both on Windows and Mac and the problems are similar and mostly have to do with reliability of the synchronization. So many times I drop a file in my OneDrive on my laptop and my desktop never gets it or I have to wait a REALLY LONG time for it to copy over, even though the file is small. Sometimes I even end up just emailing it to myself.

If you are working on files that are already in OneDrive the experience is pretty darn amazing. I love that when you open a file, let’s say a Microsoft PowerPoint file, it opens up on the web based version of PowerPoint. By clicking on “Open In Desktop App” it opens it in your locally installed version of PowerPoint and when you save it, it automatically saves it on OneDrive.

The sharing of files can sometimes be complex. Many times I have added a user to access a file and the user never gets an email or doesn’t get correct permissions.  That being said, OneDrive is a better overall experience than Google Drive, especially if you are a Microsoft Office Suite customer. I rate this service an 8/10. That OneDrive client needs work!

Pricing

  • 5 GB Free
  • 100 GB = $1.99/month
  • 1TB = $6.99 / month (includes the Microsoft Office Suite!)

My favorite features

  • Office Suite Included for the 1TB plan
  • Web Interface is better than Google Drive
  • Easy to see files shared with you

Least Favorite Features

  • Sync Client
  • Speed

Dropbox

Dropbox launched in 2008 and it put Microsoft’s Live Folders to shame. From the launch, this service had my attention as well as the tech world’s in general.

Once in a while in the technology field you have a visionary company that executes well on their vision. Apple is a good example of that. Dropbox is right there, too. Since the beginning their product has done what it promises. Plain and simple. It works. Maybe I was a little hard on the software clients for both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive but that’s because I was used to Dropbox. The most reliable sync client, by FAR! It always syncs, it always works, the client is clean and easy and simple to set up.

Dropbox’s web interface is the most straightforward of them all. Sharing files is easy. Dropbox is just easy, reliable, and my favorite.

Pricing

  • 2TB = $9.99/month
  • 3TB = $16.58/month
    • Loads of features you may (or may not) use

My favorite features

  • Web Client beats the other two
  • The client is awesome.

Least Favorite Features

  • Pricing is a little higher than the others.

You really cannot go wrong with any of these services. But to me Dropbox takes it by far. All components work the way they say. File sharing is easy. This is one service I don’t mind paying more for as I feel the value you get far exceeds the cost difference.

 

Related content:
How Small Businesses Should Best Play the Cloud
A Real-time Cloud Virtual Office Migration
3 Things to Consider When Moving to the Cloud
Noel Lacayo
Noel Lacayohttps://www.noellacayo.com
With an IT career spanning over 20 years, Noel Lacayo has a deep understanding of the complexities around enterprise technology. Starting as a Technology Support Group Associate with UPS all the way to Regional IT Director for a large multinational firm, Noel has managed multi-million dollar projects, recruited and held top IT talent, and revolutionized IT departments. The development side of his career took when he founded classbyte.com, a course management software that he founded and developed which later grew to be one of the largest CPR course management platforms in the world. Classbyte.com was acquired in 2014 by TrainingCenter911.com Today Noel works for Palo Alto based VMWare (VMW), a global leader in cloud infrastructure & digital workspace technology where he uses his diverse skillset to help customers plan and execute on their digital transformation journeys. Noel is also a smart home enthusiast that contributes to open source projects on a regular basis.

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