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Monday, 4 March 2013

Dropbox vs Google Drive: Comparison of Cloud Online File Sharing and Storage Tools

Dropbox vs Google Drive: Comparison of Cloud Online File Sharing and Storage Tools

In this article "Dropbox vs Google Drive", we are going to compare two mega tools of cloud online file sharing and storage. Although Dropbox is the biggest and oldest player in the cloud market (online file sharing and storage), Google Drive has proved itself as an alternative and top competitor of Dropbox. We will compare various features of Dropbox and Google Drive like Free and Premium Online File Storage Space, Which one is cheap in online storage, What platforms both Dropbox and Google Drive support, File Synchronization, Ease of File Sharing features, File Type Support, and Security Features of both Dropbox and Google Drive. So, lets start comparing both Dropbox and Google Drive.

1. Online File Storage Space


Dropbox starts you off with 2GB of free storage but you get referral perks, that is 500 MB of extra space for every friend you refer Dropbox to. More than 35 referrals later, you’ll be able to earn a maximum of 18GB, giving you a grand total of 20GB inclusive of your initial 2GB.

For more storage, you can opt for the Pro Dropbox account that offers 100GB, 200GB and 500GB from $9.99, $19.99 and $49.99 per month respectively or save 17% by paying $99, $199 and $499 yearly.

Google Drive

Google Drive is readily available within your Gmail account. From there you start with 5GB worth of storage space. Additional space can be purchased with a wide variety of plans (ranging from 25GB to 16TB). Upgrading to any account will also give you the same amount of storage in Picasa while your Gmail Storage is upgraded to 25GB.

2. Platforms


The Dropbox desktop application is available on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Dropbox is also available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Dropbox is the only service that currently natively supports Linux; and also the only service to support BlackBerry.

Google Drive

Google Drive is available for Windows and Mac OS; however unlike Dropbox, it has no native support for Linux and relies on third party programs. In terms of mobile, Google Drive is available only on iOS and Android.

3. Synchronization

Both Google Drive and Dropbox offer options to choose which folders you would want synced to the cloud.

We tested syncing a 50MB file with both programs, with interesting results. By default, Dropbox is significantly slower, because it automatically throttles your upload speeds. However, this is all tweakable in Dropbox's preferences. You can change how fast it uploads and downloads files, which is great if you don't want it to steal bandwidth from other important things (like video chatting, games, or BitTorrent). Google Drive doesn't give you these options, which is kind of annoying. With Dropbox set to "Don't Limit", it uploaded files at the same speed as Google Drive in our tests.

However, Dropbox also has LAN sync, which means transferring files to another computer on your network is going to be a lot faster than Google Drive, which will download it from the servers instead of the other computer. After uploading our 50MB file to Dropbox, it took less than a minute to show up on our other machine, while Google Drive took about 3 more minutes.

Drive is also really annoying in the sense that it doesn't give you any information about how fast it's syncing or when it's done. Dropbox's system tray icon will not only show you when it's uploading or downloading just by looking at the icon, but if you hover over it, it'll also show you how fast it's going and how long it thinks the transfer will take.

It'll also notify you when new files are added. Drive doesn't do any of these things. To see if it's syncing, you have to right-click on it, and it'll only tell you that it's syncing—now how fast it's going or how long it'll take. It doesn't have any notifications, so the only way to see when it's done is to right-click on it compulsively, reload your Drive folder in Windows explorer, or visit the web interface. Dropbox wins this section by a mile.

4. Online File Sharing Ease

Both apps do pretty well at sharing files, they just work in slightly different ways. Dropbox lets you share files by right-clicking on them in Windows Explorer or the Finder and getting a link to share with your friends. Google Drive forces you to go the webapp, and has a slightly confusing method of sharing files—if you check a file and go to More > Share, you can send it as an email attachment with Gmail or Share with other people. When you click Share, you either type in the names of other Google users to add it to their Google Drive, or click "Change" next to "Who Has Access" to share it with "anyone that has the link" or "public on the web". It's a bit more convoluted, and we wish there was better desktop integration, but at least the feature is there. Both services also let you share entire folders with other people, for easy collaboration.

Google Drive, however, has an edge in the collaboration department. Not only can you share folders, but it also has all of Google Docs' built-in collaboration features that we love so much. By sharing a document with another Docs user, they can edit the file, make comments, and so on. That way, you don't just see the edited file, you see what they've done and can chat with them in real time as they do it.

5. File Type Support

You can upload any file type to the cloud but you can view only file types that are supported. If the service does not support the file, all you can do is download it onto your computer to view and edit. Videos and images are supported on all three services, but we need to wait longer for audio playback as it is against copyright law. Each service has varying levels of file support.


Dropbox does not have any online document editor which means files only can be downloaded. However, for the Dropbox app on your smartphone or tablet, you are able to view Microsoft Office files, Apple iWork files, audio/video files, images, and PDF files. Documents cannot be edited with the app but can be opened with another editing app.

Google Drive

The Google Drive website supports unique files like Adobe Illustrator (.AI) and Photoshop (.PSD) files, Autodesk AutoCad files and Scalable Vector Graphics files. You can also view Microsoft Office documents, but can only edit it after converting it to a Google Docs file type.

The Google Drive app does not fully support viewing the unique files like its website counterpart does. However, you can do basic edits to Google Docs files and view movie files through the app.

6. Security

Using cloud storage services means your files are online. This situation is a whole lot more vulnerable than having your files confined to your computer at home. But rest assured that these services have solutions for your security woes.

Dropbox and Google Drive have a 2-step verification feature when logging in to your account through the website. A standard email and password login is followed by a second punch-in of a security code sent to your smartphone by SMS or by using the Google Authenticator App (iOS/Android).

7. Other Features


Besides ‘earning’ storage space through referrals, you can get more free space by using Dropbox’s Camera Upload feature on your desktop or smartphone. Dropbox also has a unlimited undo (version) history feature for an extra $39 a year, only available with a Pro Dropbox account.

Uploading files through the Dropbox website has a limit of 300MB. Whereas, uploads through the Dropbox Desktop app have no file size limit.

Dropbox has also successfully integrated with Facebook Groups where you can share files from your dropbox files to your Facebook Groups.

Google Drive

Google Drive allows you to disable automatic deletion of old versions which means you can keep all file revisions as long as you want although doing this maxes out your storage space quickly.

Google Drive is also an online document editor which converts your Microsoft Office document (.doc / .docx) into a Google Document (.gdoc) before editing.

There is a file size upload limit of 10GB on the desktop app and website version.

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