Online Storage Compared
More and more people are starting to use cloud storage these days - whether it's storing personal photos on Facebook, working on a Google Docs spread sheet, or backing your entire system up online. With so many options, it may be tricky to decide which the best choice is for you. I've been gathering information on the three main competitors today - Dropbox, Google Drive, and Skydrive, and I'll give you a quick rundown of each one. Hopefully I can make choosing a cloud storage method a bit easier for you!
Microsoft's entry in the cloud storage market is a serious contender. For starters, you will be offered the most storage as a free user, making it the most attractive for those not wanting to empty their pockets to store their stuff. You'll get a free 7GB just for signing up, and better still, if you're already a Windows Live user, you'll get a whopping 25GB extra for free, totalling 32gb absolutely free.
SkyDrive is fantastic for those who are heavily into their Microsoft Office applications, it allows you to create and edit Office documents through the web interface, without the need to install any applications. You can then access these documents from any web browser, anywhere.
Perhaps the best feature of SkyDrive, is the ability to browse a 'connected' PC, even outside of the synchronized folder. When you setup SkyDrive, you will synchronize PC's to access later on, however, you can only synchronize one folder - named SkyDrive, this is where you place any data you want backed up. With SkyDrive, you actually have the ability to browse that connected computer using the web interface, even files and folders outside of the Synchronized folder - very useful!
Upload limits for SkyDrive are 300mb through the web browser, and 2GB through the application.
Free for up to 7GB (or 32GB for existing Windows Live users)
- - +20gb = 50p per month / £6.00 per year
- - +50gb = £1.33 per month / £16 per year
- - +100gb = £2.66 per month / £32.00 per year
- - Easily the best value, offering the most storage for the least price
- - The storage of choice for Microsoft Office users - being able to work on your documents from anywhere online is incredible useful
- - The 'free' accounts offer the most storage out of the 3 contenders
- - Browse the contents of a connected PC, even outside of the synchronized folder
- - Works on Windows Phone, iPhone and iPad
- - SkyDrive doesn't have the Selective Sync feature of the other two; whatever you put in the SkyDrive folder, is automatically synchronized, you can't pick and choose.
- - The application doesn't work on Android or Blackberry devices
Google's recent Google Drive cloud storage is another serious contender. Out of the three, Google Drive has the most options available to the user, particularly it's integration with Google Docs. You have the widest range of sharing and security options open to you as well, you can share a file with a user and assign edit permissions, or only read permissions.
Google Drive gives you a 5GB storage quota when you sign up, somewhat less than SkyDrives offering, but more than that of DropBox. Google Drive however, offers the greatest security of your documents, using a two-step security system; if someone gets hold of your password, they still can't access your documents. It also allows for the largest online storage capacity - up to 16TB per account! The unmistakable look of the Google layout is present on the web interface.
At this stage, Google Docs only offers file sharing via Email, and is the only one to not have social network integration - you can't yet share files through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. GoogleDrive is also the only one to not offer cross operating system mobile support - the application is exclusive to the Android OS. You can still access your files via the web browser though! The lacking features here will most likely be implemented as Google Drive matures a little - there are already plans for an iPhone and iPad application.
Free up to 5GB
- - +25gb = £1.50 per month / £18.00 per year
- - +100gb = £3.15 per month / £37.00 per year
- - +200gb = £6.25 per month / £75.00 per year
- - +400gb = £12.50 per month / £150 per year
- - Great 'google' layout
- - Lots of security on your files - more so than competitors
- - Offers extensive sharing and security permissions
- - Access to previous versions let you roll back unwanted changes quickly
- - Still in it's early stages, so no iPhone or iPad application yet
- - Can only share files and folders via email
- - Fairly expensive, particularly when compared to SkyDrive
Dropbox claimed most of the online storage a while ago, only recently have other brands caught up. Dropbox still compares handsomely to its competitors. Perhaps the most striking thing about Dropbox is its user interface. It couldn't really be any easier to store, share and access files in the cloud. The Dropbox app is incredibly user friendly, making it the choice application for a lot of users after ease of use.
Dropbox is also operating system independent, where Google Drive favours the Android OS, and Skydrive favouring Windows, Dropbox works across all platforms perfectly - Windows, Apple, Blackberry and Android. This 'independence' also makes Dropbox the favourite for third party applications, such as Pack Rat, which saves your file history indefinitely, offering fantastic disaster recovery options.
Dropbox offers a comparatively small 2gb storage for free users, but this is easily upgradable with their referral scheme - refer a friend and gain an extra 2gb, and this keeps going up to around 20gb. Dropbox is also the most expensive option, prices are free up to 2gb, then;
- - +50gb = £6.25 per month / £75 per year
- - +100gb = £12.50 per month / £150 per year
- - Very easy to use, with a pleasant user interface
- - Doesn't favour any operating systems - the downloadable application will work on all OS's
- - Offers the least free initial storage
- - Fairly expensive, particularly compared to its competitors
To sum up...
I'd be lying if I said one was better than the other - that's simply not the case. Each product has its pros and cons, it's really a case of deciding which best suits you. If you are a regular user of Microsoft Products such as Office or Windows Live Mail, Skydrive is for you. If it's great integration with Google Docs and extensive security options you require, consider Google Drive, or for ease of and third party application integration, go with Dropbox.