Keeping your data secure and close to hand has never been more important, no matter what type of device you are working on. With cloud storage, you can quickly and easily access nearly any type of file known and either download it, edit it online or share it with others with a few simple clicks. The cloud storage solutions that work this magic are myriad, but there are two clear leaders in the space: Google Drive (review) and Dropbox (review). While similar in scope, there are some differences that can make one or the other service more useful for you, depending on your unique situation.
If you’re a Microsoft Office user, and want to be able to edit your files online then you’re probably going to want to go with Dropbox. While Google Drive offers online editing of office productivity files, it only allows you to edit Google Docs, Sheets and Slides natively online—for other file types you’ll have to download the file and re-upload. While that doesn’t sound like a lot of extra work, try it a few dozen times and you’ll see why there’s a bit of frustration to be found in this type of setup. Dropbox on the other hand fully integrates with Office365, so you’re able to edit your Word files right in MS Word and then have them sync seamlessly right back to the cloud.
While Dropbox has a relatively strong search, it just can’t compare to the search driving Google Drive which allows you to search not only file names but inside the files as well. You can even scan PDF files for text and images as well as the metadata embedded within the images. When you need real-time collaboration and editing, Google Drive is the clear winner. You can literally hop on the phone with a client, open the same file and see what the other person is typing—as they type it. With Dropbox you can both be editing the same file, but you’ll get a notice that there’s a file conflict that has to be resolved before saving, or you’ll get a second version of your file to contend with. While this is still a valid method of collaboration, it isn’t quite as seamless as the option with Google Drive.
While both Dropbox and Google Drive offer significant file sharing functionality, only Dropbox has what feels like fully integrated native file sharing directly from your PC or Mac. Drive file sharing works well from the web app, but the desktop app doesn’t have the same level of support. Dropbox not only syncs automatically, but requires a great deal less work on both sides of the sharing equation.
Storage for the Price
In possibly the most important difference, Google Drive edges out Dropbox by offering more free storage and deeper discounts on paid storage as well. While prices can change drastically based on the time of year or the various discounts being offered, in general Google Drive offers more storage for less money on a monthly or annual basis than does Dropbox. Dropbox makes getting more storage incredibly simple, but it is on the pricier side.
Looking at the two different options, it can be difficult to determine a clear winner and loser—both Google Drive and Dropbox offer many wonderful options for users. What the choice boils down to is your preference for collaboration and file types: if you prefer Office software and editing within the suite of products, you should probably go with Dropbox. However, if Google apps are your cup of tea, then Google Drive gives you the functionality that you need at a great price.