Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive are the most popular cloud storage providers today. Picking between them to determine which one is the best cloud storage provider is no easy task. Each has strengths and weaknesses that don’t always overlap.

Though we side with OneDrive, with multiple caveats, new readers of CommQueR.com might be surprised to learn that none of the three finish atop our cloud storage comparison rankings. The main reason for that is a flaw they all share: security.

We much prefer cloud providers that offer private, end-to-end encryption, such as those in our review of the best zero-knowledge cloud services.

That said, we don’t deny that there are benefits to using Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive over the bulk of cloud storage providers, with most relating to productivity. As much as we laud Sync.com as a provider for its impregnable security, that security means image previews, media streaming and document editing are out of play.

The question of which of the three kings of cloud storage reigns supreme is an important one. It’s PC or Mac, Beatles or Rolling Stones and boxers or briefs important. When in doubt about whether one software-as-a-service provider is better than another, here at CommQueR.com, we prefer a tried-and-true method of picking a winner: trial by combat.

Send the children to bed, because this three-way gladiatorial match is your front-row seat to a display of virtual carnage that will put the war for net neutrality to shame, and will help you decide whether Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive is best for your file-hosting needs.

Starts from $ 408 per month for 500 GB
Free plan available
$ per month
top features
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    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
  3. Visit DropboxDropbox Review
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    • File Link Sharing
    • Folder Sharing
    • Versioning
  3. Visit Google DriveGoogle Drive Review
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    • Sync Folder
    • File Link Sharing
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  3. Visit OneDriveOneDrive Review
Starts from $ 199 per month for 50 GB
Free plan available

The Battle: Dropbox versus Google Drive versus OneDrive

By the numbers, Google Drive has the advantage. In early 2017, the company announced it had passed 800 million monthly active users. By now, it’s probably the first cloud storage service to have passed the one billion mark.

Dropbox, once the leader in active users, last reported 500 million registered users. Of those, 11 million are paying users, including 300,000 business subscription customers (read our Dropbox Business review).

OneDrive, meanwhile serves a measly 115 million users worldwide. Then again, it’s reported that over 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies use OneDrive, which isn’t surprising given the popularity of Office 365.

Numbers aren’t everything, though. Each of the three tech giants has taken a different approach to marketing and developing their storage service, helping to define the cloud storage market along the way. Which one works best for you will depend on which approach aligns most with your needs.

We’ve broken our battle into five rounds to help you figure that out. After each round, we’ll rank each service and give two points to the winner, one point to the runner-up and a fat zero for last place. At the end of our article, we’ll tally the points and present our pick for the best of the three.

If you prefer an isolated look at our contestants, we have separate reviews for each:

Now, on to the bloodshed.

Round One: Pricing and Storage

We’ll begin where most consumers start, and some finish, by considering cost. In addition to detailing the subscription prices, we’ll look at how much storage you get. The range of plans offered will be considered, too, since there’s little value in paying for a 1TB storage plan when you only need half that.

All three cloud storage services have consumer and business plans. While much of our article is directed at personal use, we’ll look at both in round one to give our office-dwelling consumers something to think about.

We’ll also consider free cloud storage plans. Check out our article on the best free cloud storage offers to see whether any of the three made it and nab some no-strings storage at the same time.

Dropbox Pricing

One of the things that sticks out about Dropbox is its inflexibility. For individual users, both subscription options give you 1TB of storage. Dropbox Basic gives you 2GB of free storage, which is one of the least generous free cloud storage plans.

Plans:Dropbox BasicDropbox PlusDropbox Professional
Month-to-Month Cost:Free$9.99$19.99
Annual Cost (by Month):Free$8.25$16.58
Cloud Storage:2GB1TB1TB

We’d love to see Dropbox put out a 500GB plan, but we’re not going to hold our breath for that evolution. When it comes to subscription changes, Dropbox usually only increases prices.

By paying twice as much for Dropbox Professional over Dropbox Plus, you don’t get more storage, you get more features. It’s debatable whether they’re worth it, at least, for home use. Smart sync, shared link settings and 120-day versioning are the highlights. We’ll talk about each in more detail later in this article.

Dropbox Business plans are more versatile, with both a 2TB and unlimited cloud storage plan, but require a minimum of three users. You can go month-to-month, or pay for a year in advance to receive a discount.

Cost per User:$15$25
Annual Cost (by Month):$12.50$20
Storage:2TB (Shared)???
Minimum Users:33

The unlimited cloud storage landscape is sparse and mostly limited to business plans. Dropbox ranks as one of the best options, but we have others listed in our best unlimited cloud storage article.

Google Drive Pricing

If you own an Android phone or have a Gmail account, you already have 15GB of free Google Drive storage. That’s one of the most generous cloud storage plans available, even if storage is shared between Google Drive, Google Photos, Google Calendar and Gmail.

You can get 1TB of Google Drive storage for $9.99, the same price as Dropbox Plus. Google extends its price plan flexibility with more subscription options, ranging from 100GB for $1.99 per month to 30TB for $299. Annual subscriptions with discounts are available, too.

  • Free plan
  • 15 GB Storage
  • 100 GB Storage
1-year plan $ 1.67/ month
$19.99 billed every year
Save 16 %
    1-year plan $ 2.50/ month
    $29.99 billed every year
    Save 16 %
    • 2000 GB Storage
    1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
    $99.99 billed every year
    Save 17 %
    • 10000 GB Storage
    • 20000 GB Storage

    The number of options isn’t something you’ll get with most cloud storage providers. The rates aren’t impressive, but that’s about to change.

    At the time this article is being written, Google Drive is on the cusp of being rebranded as Google One. With the name change, Google will be doubling the storage capacity of its 1TB plan, giving users 2TB. There will also be a new 200GB plan for $2.99 per month.

    On top of those changes, Google One plans can be shared with up to five family members, making it one of the best cloud storage options for families. You’ll be able to give each family member their own private storage space.

    Google One subscribers will also receive faster support access, credits for Google Play, hotel deals and other perks. Even without those extras, the doubling of storage and the option to share space with others represent a seismic shift in the cloud storage market that should force other providers to rethink their subscription offers.

    Google has storage plans for business users packaged under the G Suite brand. As far as we know, these plans won’t be overhauled when Google One launches.

    Cost per User:$5$10
    Notes:N/AIf under 5 users, storage is 1TB per user.

    There are no minimum user requirements for G Suite, though if you license fewer than five users for the G Suite Business plan, you’ll get 1TB of storage per user instead of unlimited storage.

    OneDrive Pricing

    OneDrive plans include a free 5GB offer on the low end and Office 365 subscriptions on the high end. Sandwiched in between, there’s a 50GB cloud storage plan. Both month-to-month and annual subscriptions are available.

    • 5 GB Storage
    • 50 GB Storage
    1-year plan $ 1.99/ month
    $23.88 billed every year
    Office 365 Personal
    • Comes with Office 365 Personal
    • 1000 GB Storage
    1-year plan $ 5.83/ month
    $69.99 billed every year
    Save 17 %
    Office 365 Home
    • Comes with Office 365 Home
    • 5000 GB Storage
    1-year plan $ 8.33/ month
    $99.99 billed every year
    Save 17 %

    Getting 50GB for $1.99 is a reasonable deal and one that Dropbox doesn’t match, though Google Drive gives you 100GB for the same price. The better bargains are the two Office 365 plans: Personal and Home.

    Office 365 Personal is $6.99 per month for 1TB of storage. That alone is enticing, but what really drives the value up is that a subscription gives you access to desktop versions of Microsoft Office products, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote (read our OneNote review).

    Office 365 Home offers more value. For $9.99 per month, you get 5TB of storage for five family members, in addition to Microsoft Office.

    We’ve written a separate OneDrive for Business review if you’re looking for cloud storage for your colleagues. The pricing is affordable, but note that the two low-end subscriptions come with cloud storage only, meaning no Office 365.

    OneDrive for Business
    • OneDrive Storage per User: 1TB
    1-year plan $ 5.00/ month
    $60.00 billed every year
    OneDrive for Business Advanced
    • OneDrive Storage per User: Unlimited
    1-year plan $ 10.00/ month
    $120.00 billed every year
    Office 365 Business
    • OneDrive Storage per User: 1TB
    Office 365 Business Premium
    • OneDrive Storage per User: 1TB
    1-year plan $ 12.50/ month
    $150.00 billed every year

    The Business Premium plan comes with all the apps, unlimited cloud storage and 50GB mailboxes with custom domains. Other perks are included, as well.

    Round One Thoughts:

    Dropbox is one of the worst deals in cloud storage, at least, if you’re only looking at cost and gigabytes. It’s out for round one.

    Google Drive and OneDrive provide good value, but for different reasons. Google Drive has plans at multiple price points, including that 100GB plan for $1.99, while Microsoft’s Office 365 plans are among the best deals in cloud storage, thanks to the inclusion of Microsoft Office.

    Normally, we’d tilt this round toward OneDrive by a hair. However, the announcement of Google One is as much a game changer as Godzilla breathing fire. It isn’t here yet, but we’re granting round one to Google Drive based on future prospects.

    If you sign up for a 1TB Google Drive plan now, you’ll automatically be upgraded to 2TB after the rebrand.

    1. Round One Winner: Google Drive
    2. Runner-Up: OneDrive
    Starts from $ 199 per month for 50 GB
    Free plan available

    Round Two: File Synchronization

    Cloud storage isn’t just about clearing space on your hard drive. One of the key features to look for is file synchronization, a productivity feature that distributes edits in near-real-time across all devices connected to your storage account.


    Round two will look at the sync capabilities and sync speed of Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.

    Dropbox Sync

    Dropbox founder Drew Houston invented the sync model commonly used by cloud storage services today in 2007. Like most great ideas, the concept is simple, hinging on a special folder placed in the file system of your computer. Files kept in this folder are stored on your hard drive and in the cloud.

    Using the cloud as a middleman, files get transferred to other computers with connected sync folders installed, as well as smartphones with Dropbox mobile apps.

    Desktop sync clients are available for Windows, Mac and Linux (read the best cloud storage for Linux). Smartphone apps are available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

    The sync folder model is simple and most storage providers mimic it, but Dropbox remains ahead of the game with block-level file transfer. The only time full files are transmitted is when they’re first added to the sync folder. When edits are made to those files, only those edits get copied by breaking up files into 4MB blocks.

    In theory, the result of block-level transfers is faster syncs and that bears out in testing, with file edits uploading and downloading at speeds that far surpass most storage providers.

    Dropbox sync is not just fast, but more reliable. File names don’t get mixed up and files don’t go missing. Dropbox performs file deduplication at the block level, calculating a SHA256 hash for each block and comparing that to hashes already stored in the cloud.

    Sync works well for small and large files and there’s no cap on file sizes as long as they’re uploaded through your desktop client or mobile app. Files uploaded through the website are capped at 20GB.

    Sync is immensely useful, but the fact that it requires local file storage means you won’t be saving hard drive space. To address that, Dropbox’s “selective sync” feature  lets you turn sync off for folders and files to make them available only while online.

    Spring for a Dropbox Professional or Dropbox Business subscription and you’ll get the benefit of a newer feature called “smart sync.” Normally, when you use selective sync to turn off file synchronization, you’re no longer able to see those files on your computer.

    Dropbox users can throttle upload and download speeds in case synchronization is affecting system resources, but, unless you’re using a 10-year-old laptop, that probably won’t be necessary.

    Google Drive Sync

    Google Drive sync makes use of the model Dropbox invented, creating a cloud-connected folder in your file system. Desktop clients are available for Windows and macOS, but not Linux.

    Remote Google Drive access is possible using one of the best cloud storage apps for Android. There’s a Google Drive iPhone app, too, despite the competition between Google and Apple in the mobile market.  

    Google Drive is backed by a global server network, so it’s no surprise full-file transfers move fast. We uploaded a 1GB folder in just over 10 minutes using a 22 megabits per second internet upload connection. On the other hand, file edits sync slower than necessary because Google Drive isn’t capable of block-level file copies.

    Google Drive sync can stick. New files added to the sync folder upload quickly, but, on occasion, we’ve had to wait several minutes for files — small files — to show up on the web application. Customer complaints about the issue indicate it’s not isolated, with many suggesting the problem gets worse as more files are stored.

    Google Drive doesn’t have a feature comparable to Dropbox’s smart sync, but it does have selective sync to help you clear hard drive space. You can manage it using the Google Drive Backup and Sync preferences tool.

    If Google Drive is sapping your system resources, you can slow down your upload and download bandwidth from the preferences tool. Click “settings” and “network settings” to limit speeds.

    Google Drive has an advantage over Dropbox and OneDrive that’s not exactly sync, but related: file backup. With file backup, you can establish one-direction uploads from desktop folders to the cloud. The usefulness of this feature is marginal, though, compared to the dedicated backup services mentioned in our best online backup guide.

    OneDrive Sync

    The OneDrive sync folder is in your file system if you’re a Windows 10 user, though you’re welcome to remove it. It works like any other sync folder: drop content into it to send it to the cloud and synced devices.

    Linux isn’t supported but macOS is. Smartphone apps are available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

    In our OneDrive speed tests, a 1GB folder took nearly 30 minutes to upload. That seems slow, but our test computer had a 5 Mbps upload connection. At that speed, 30 minutes is what you should expect.

    For file edits, OneDrive has block-level sync for Microsoft file types. Other file types are copied in full when changes are made. Though we’d like it for all file types, most cloud storage services don’t use block-level copying at all.

    Selective sync is an option, configurable using the desktop client settings tool.

    As with Google Drive and Dropbox Plus, turning sync off for content means you can no longer see it in your OneDrive sync folder. That’s an annoyance, but, at least, you can save space on your hard drive and access it online.

    Finally, OneDrive lets you throttle sync speeds.

    Round Two Thoughts:

    Google Drive and OneDrive sync files quickly. Google Drive doesn’t use block-level encryption and sync occasionally stutters on it. OneDrive runs sync more smoothly, especially for Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Between the two, we’ll take OneDrive, but Dropbox trumps both at file copying.

    While we have our issues with Dropbox, we give credit where it’s due. Drew Houston invented the file sync model used by most cloud storage providers and his company continues to set the bar with block-level file copying and smart sync. We only wish that last feature didn’t require an expensive Dropbox Professional subscription.

    If you like the idea of seeing files in your computer file system, but don’t want them stored on your hard drive, an alternative method is to set up a network drive in your file system. Read our network drive guide for more information.

    1. Round Two Winner: Dropbox
    2. Runner-Up: OneDrive
    Starts from $ 199 per month for 50 GB
    Free plan available

    Round Three: File Sharing

    Granting file access to others through your cloud storage service lets you share photos and movies with friends and family. File sharing facilitates collaboration, too.

    The basic mechanics of file sharing are the same from one provider to another, relying on internet links that point to files and folders, but links can be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands. To assist with content control, additional file linking features, such as passwords and expiry dates, can be used, though most providers fail to do so.

    We have an article dedicated to the top cloud storage services for file sharing. Let’s see how Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive perform.

    Dropbox File Sharing

    Objects stored in Dropbox can be shared using the web interface. Each folder and file has a share button attached to it. Click it to generate a shareable link that you can copy and paste into email bodies, chat, documents or anywhere else. Alternatively, enter email addresses belonging to whomever you want to allow access.

    If you’re sharing a folder, you can choose to allow view-only or edit access.

    Dropbox has a few file-sharing features to control access. They include passwords and expiry dates for links and the option to disable downloads. The features are only available with Dropbox Professional, though.

    To keep from losing track of shared files, use the Dropbox “sharing” page. A link view lets you quickly disable shares, while folder and file tabs show content shared with you.

    A “file request” page lets you request content from coworkers, customers and others. You can leave a description of your request, allow folder access and set a deadline.

    Overall, Dropbox has nice sharing features, though we’d prefer to see them included with the Dropbox Plus subscription.

    Google Drive File Sharing

    For a cloud storage service of its pedigree, Google Drive has surprisingly weak file sharing features. You can generate links for folders and files and grant edit, comment or view permissions to both.

    You can permit access based on email address, rather than create a link. Options for disabling downloads and preventing editors from adding new people are available in “advanced sharing settings.” Links can be posted directly to Gmail, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

    Granting access to Google Docs files allows others to collaborate by leaving comments and making and suggesting edits. We’ll talk more about Google Docs later, but sharing access is central to Google Drive’s reputation as a productivity tool.

    When we call sharing Google Drive “flimsy,” our main complaint is that there’s no option for links passwords, expiry dates or download limits. Google Drive doesn’t have an easy way to audit links you’ve created, either. There’s a “sharing” page to see objects shared with you, but nothing to see what you’ve shared.

    The net result is that it’s easy to lose sight of what files you’ve shared, which adds a degree of risk to using Google Drive that may outweigh its capabilities as a productivity tool.

    OneDrive File Sharing

    OneDrive has the secure file-sharing features that Google Drive doesn’t and, unlike Dropbox, it doesn’t require a $20-per-month subscription to access them.

    You can permit access using email addresses or by generating a shareable link. Passwords and expiry dates can be added when you create links to limit access. There’s a permissions option to allow edits. Access links can be automatically posted to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Sina Weibo if you want to share with a broader audience.

    To keep everything in order, you can review files shared by you and with you using the OneDrive “shared” view online.

    It’s good news for the most part when it comes to OneDrive file sharing. The big miss is that there’s no route for file requests like there is with Dropbox, pCloud, Sync.com and a few other cloud providers. An option to limit downloads would be nice, too.

    Round Three Thoughts:

    The absence of password and expiry date features for file sharing is one of Google Drive’s biggest weaknesses. You could call those misses a security issue, which adds to other privacy concerns we have with Google Drive that we’ll pick up on in round five.

    Either way, Google Drive is the easy loser in round three. Both Dropbox and OneDrive have issues, but they’re not quite as crippling.

    We hate that you have to purchase a Dropbox Professional subscription to get access to advanced link controls. There’s no good reason not to include what should be fundamental sharing features with Dropbox Plus, if not Dropbox Basic.

    Our bone to pick with OneDrive is that it doesn’t have a file request feature. The inclusion of link passwords and expiry dates for all OneDrive subscribers is a convincing reason to choose it over Dropbox, though, so we’re ruling round three in favor of Microsoft.

    1. Round Three Winner: OneDrive
    2. Runner-Up: Dropbox
    Starts from $ 199 per month for 50 GB
    Free plan available

    Round Four: Cloud Apps

    Storage, sync and share are the essential elements of any cloud storage service, but you don’t become best in show by sticking to basic tricks. What separates Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive from the rest of the field is application integrations. They enhance work productivity and facilitate collaborations. Apps are in the spotlight for round four.

    Dropbox Apps

    Much of the Dropbox desktop experience requires an online user interface. The UI has a homepage where you’ll find content you’ve tagged as important and a list of recently accessed documents.

    Navigation links run vertically down the left side. One of those links leads to your “files” page, which is where you can access content directly from the web.

    You can view photos and PowerPoint presentations using the Dropbox website. Certain document types can be previewed in the Dropbox UI, including .csv, .docx, .pdf and .xls extensions.

    Videos can be streamed, but only up to 60 minutes for shared files. Music files are playable, but, without a playlist feature, you are limited to playing one at a time.

    See our best cloud storage for music article for more capable solutions or find a cloud media player that works with Dropbox. Audiobox.fm is a good one that also works with Google Drive and OneDrive.

    Dropbox has one native app called Dropbox Paper. It does the job for meeting notes, but isn’t good enough to make our best note-taking app guide.

    Dropbox doesn’t have an office suite of its own, but it does come pre-integrated with Office Online that lets you edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. By sharing content with others, you can use Office Online to co-author documents and gather comments.

    There are many third-party apps that connect to the Dropbox API to provide additional functionality. For example, you can connect the chat tool Slack to Dropbox or a project management tool such as those in our best project management software guide.

    There are even more integrations available for Dropbox using trigger-response automation tools Zapier and IFTTT.

    Dropbox could make it easier to find integrations by providing a searchable library. That’s something Google Drive does well, in addition to attracting third-party app developers.

    Google Drive Apps

    The Google Drive web UI has a more complex layout than Dropbox. That’s because it’s a more complex service. If you need help finding your way, we have a guide to getting started.

    Left-side links let you access your cloud drive, recent files, starred files, files shared with you and files that you’ve backed up. The “new” button in the top left corner lets you create a new file using Google Docs or another integrated application.

    Google Docs is the best reason to use Google Drive. Docs refers to a standalone word processor and the entire Google office suite, which includes Google Sheets for spreadsheets and Google Slides for presentations.

    Google Docs has all the tools and features of a top office suite, rivaling Microsoft Office. You can co-create documents with peers, leave suggestions for edits and add comments, making Google Drive one of the best cloud storage tools for collaboration.

    Though browser-based, Google Docs files can be edited without internet access as long as “offline” is turned on in the settings.

    If you prefer Microsoft Office to Docs, there’s a Google Drive plugin that can be used with both Office Online and Office 365.

    Google Drive has two more integrated office apps called Google Forms and Google Drawings. Google makes Google Keep, a note-taking app, too, but it isn’t officially a part of Google Drive (read our Google Keep review).

    As it does with Android, Google courts developers for Google Drive with an open API that allows anyone to develop apps. You can access and integrate those apps using Google Drive’s app library with a couple of clicks.

    The library is searchable and broken into categories. Editors for images and video, electronic signature collectors, file converters and process planners are a few software examples. Some of our favorites include:

    Zapier and IFTTT expand the options with Google Drive automations for tools such as Trello, Facebook and Wrike.

    OneDrive Apps

    The OneDrive interface is one of the nicest looking among cloud storage providers, with sharp lines, clean font and a pleasant color scheme. Links down the left margin can be used to view stored files, recently accessed files, photos, shares, trashed files and connected computers.

    A chat icon at the top of the interface launches Skype sessions with your friends, family, coworkers and other contacts. Click on the tiles icon in the top left corner to access other programs, including Outlook, a calendar and Office Online apps.

    Office Online is the free, browser-based version of Microsoft Office, a collection of the most popular productivity tools in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If you prefer desktop versions of the software, you’ll want the Office 365 subscription.

    Another integrated app of interest is OneNote. While it’s debatable which of OneNote or Evernote is the top cloud notebook, they’re the clear front-runners. Neither Google Keep nor Dropbox Paper comes close.

    Microsoft doesn’t have a third-party app library to make finding integrations easier. The company should take notes from Google Drive in that regard. While there are third-party apps out there, they’re too hard to find.

    Integrations using Zapier and IFTTT are easier to discover by using the websites of either automation service.

    Round Four Thoughts:

    All three cloud providers offer well-designed web interfaces with enough tools baked in to drive productivity and facilitate collaboration. For Dropbox and OneDrive, the highlight is clearly Office Online, while Google Drive has Google Docs.

    Though the integrations for Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Dropbox are done well, there are misses, including OneNote. Dropbox Paper just isn’t cut out for serious research. OneDrive has a handful of other integrations, too, including Skype and Outlook, that make it better suited to getting work done than Dropbox.

    Choosing between OneDrive and Google Drive for productivity depends, in part, on whether you prefer Office Online or Google Docs. Both are excellent services with many collaboration features, so we’ll call that aspect a draw.

    OneDrive has two primary advantages over Google Drive: OneNote and Office 365. However, Google Drive has an integrated app library with hundreds of third-party options to enhance your experience. We’re giving round four to Google Drive, but it’s a thin margin of victory.

    If you have no interest in third-party apps, OneDrive is the better choice. Microsoft Office file formats are more popular than Google Docs formats, though you can convert Google Docs files to Office files directly through Google Drive.

    1. Round Four Winner: Google Drive
    2. Runner-Up: OneDrive
    Starts from $ 199 per month for 50 GB
    Free plan available

    Round Five: Security and Privacy

    Our final round examines security. File safety has been a central concern of cloud storage since its beginnings. Until news of the National Security Agency’s mass-surveillance program PRISM broke in 2013, it was an aspect that many cloud providers didn’t take seriously enough.

    On top of the public relations disaster of PRISM, an increase in high-profile cybercrime threats such as man-in-the-middle attacks, ransomware and password theft, have increased awareness.

    Despite those concerns and the need for a better public image, security is one area that these three cloud storage offerings don’t exactly nail. Let’s take a closer look.

    Dropbox Security

    Dropbox takes two steps that should be expected of cloud storage providers, even though there are still some, like OneDrive, that whiff on the second. Those steps are in-transit and at-rest encryption.

    In-transit encryption protects data being transferred over the internet. Dropbox files that are in transit are protected with TLS using at least AES 128-bit. TLS means “transport layer security” and AES means “advanced encryption standard.” We explain both in our cloud security primer.

    Files stored in the Dropbox cloud are encrypted at rest using AES 256-bit encryption. That’s a different encryption protocol than the one used in file transfer, which indicates a serious problem with Dropbox. The company decrypts files upon arrival at its data centers, then encrypts them again.

    The reason Dropbox does this is to extract metadata. That metadata is put to good use by serving as indices that speed up file retrieval, but it’s stored in plain text, which is a security concern.

    The bigger issue, though, is that Dropbox holds onto your encryption key in the first place. To be fair, it is essential for providing file previews and allowing file edits through browser-based tools such as Office Online.

    That said, Dropbox could do what pCloud does and offer a separate zero-knowledge encryption add-on (read our pCloud review). Doing so would let you privately encrypt files that you don’t want anyone, not even Dropbox technicians, to be able to decrypt. At the same time, you could let Dropbox manage the keys for any files you’re working on.

    There’s a workaround solution for that problem, which is to use Boxcryptor. It’s a private encryption service that’s compatible with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and other cloud storage providers. Read our Boxcryptor review for more details.

    The good news is that an AES encryption key, whether 128 or 256 bits, would take a supercomputer billions of years to crack. That’s why most cloud incursions result from password theft. To protect against that possibility, it’s not enough to create a strong password or use a password manager such as Dashlane. Two-factor authentication is just as vital.

    The purpose of 2FA is to prevent logins on unfamiliar machines without first supplying an additional credential. For Dropbox, that credential is a six-digit security code sent by text message. You can also use an approved mobile authenticator app such as Google Authenticator or Duo Mobile (read best 2FA apps).

    Ransomware is a trickier attack and most often targets files on your hard drive. Dropbox doesn’t perform active scans for ransomware, but there are tools out there that do, such as Acronis Active Protection. Should files in your Dropbox sync folder get corrupted by ransomware, those corruptions will be passed to the cloud.

    You can recover your files after you’ve removed the malicious program by taking advantage of Dropbox’s file versioning feature.

    Dropbox retains previous file states for 30 days on a Dropbox Plus account and 120 days on Dropbox Professional. Dropbox Business users get indefinite versioning.

    There are better storage providers for versioning, but 30 days should be enough for ransomware if you’re diligent about fixing the issue.

    Google Drive Security

    Google Drive encrypts files while in-transit using the TLS cryptographic protocol to prevent online eavesdropping. Rather than AES 256-bit like Dropbox, Google Drive files are encrypted with AES 128-bit while in motion.

    On the other hand, while Dropbox encrypts files at rest using AES 128-bit, Google Drive uses 256-bit. It doesn’t really matter which is used, though, since both are uncrackable in any practical sense. Like Dropbox, Google Drive pulls metadata for indexing files.

    It’s perplexing and concerning that Google didn’t start encrypting consumer files until 2013, after the NSA’s PRISM project blew up in its face, but being late to the party is better than not showing up at all.

    Google supports optional two-factor verification for its products, which can be turned on in your Google account settings.

    Once enabled, you’ll need to enter a security code for new machine logins. The code can be received via text or mobile app. As with Dropbox, we recommend this precaution.

    While most cloud storage data centers offer ample security, Google goes above and beyond with the measures it has in place, including laser grids and biometric scanners. Granted, those measures are there to protect Google’s own vast and valuable data stores, but your cloud data still gets to go along for the ride.

    Google Drive handles file versioning separately for native and non-native files. Google Docs files can be rolled back using the “revision history” view in the document.

    This view lets you see all every change ever been made to a file and roll back to any previous state. With limitless versioning, ransomware should never pose a serious threat to Google Docs files.

    Non-native files are kept for up to 100 versions, but only for 30 days. That will provide some ransomware protection, but may not be enough. You can choose to retain file versions indefinitely, but it’ll take time since each file has to be set separately.

    Maybe the most troubling aspect of Google Drive are the privacy issues we cover in our Google Drive review. Among them is that the Google terms and conditions allow the company to scan your cloud files, as well as your Gmail inbox.

    These scans might be used to find and remove illegal content, including files that are copyrighted such as movies and music. They’re also used to gather information about you, which Google uses for targeted marketing.

    You can get around that by encrypting your files privately. As with Dropbox, we recommend using Boxcryptor, which will prevent Google from analyzing your files. Privately encrypting files means that you can’t view or edit them in the browser, though, leaving you to choose between convenience and security.

    OneDrive Security

    Unless you’re a business subscriber, files stored in the OneDrive cloud are not encrypted at rest. This is a big issue and one that Microsoft doesn’t advertise. We had to bug customer care repeatedly to get a straight answer about it. The problem is that Microsoft is a big company, which has always made it an attractive target for hackers.

    That files aren’t encrypted at rest is a good reason to stick with Dropbox or Google Drive, no matter the benefits of using OneDrive. The service is compatible with Boxcryptor, but that will limit your ability to use Office Online.

    Files are encrypted in transit using TLS encryption with AES 256-bit. OneDrive supports 2FA, as well, to protect against password theft. You can receive the security code by text, email or the OneDrive mobile app.

    In the past, OneDrive only supported file versioning for native file types, but Microsoft fixed that mistake in 2017, extending the capability to all files. Previous versions are only kept for 30 days, though, and there’s no option to extend that, not even for OneDrive Business users.

    Round Five Thoughts:

    Choosing between Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive for the best security is like deciding between having your foot stomped on, being punched in the stomach or sticking your hand in scalding water.

    Dropbox was involved in one of the biggest data breaches in cloud history, with 68 million passwords stolen in 2012. Since then, Dropbox has taken steps to ensure the incident isn’t repeated, including constantly switching its password hashing algorithms.

    Google Drive and OneDrive have the two bigger strikes, with Google taking a suspect attitude toward privacy and OneDrive not encrypting files at rest unless you’re a business user. Of the two, we’ll take OneDrive’s ineptitude over Google snooping through our files.

    That’s not to say that Dropbox and OneDrive don’t scan your files. We know that both, at least, check for copyrighted content when sharing, which is smart to do to avoid becoming the next Mega. The difference is that both companies are respectful of your privacy and don’t turn your data into a bombardment of ads.

    Whether you opt for Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, we suggest taking one of two steps: use Boxcryptor to create a private lockbox in the cloud, or use a second, more secure cloud storage service for files you’re not working on. We recommend Sync.com since it provides zero-knowledge encryption for free and it’s cheap, providing 2TB of storage for $8 a month.

    1. Round Five Winner: Dropbox
    2. Runner-Up: OneDrive
    Starts from $ 499 per month
    Free plan available

    The Verdict

    Dropbox and Google Drive managed two first place finishes, while OneDrive only had one. OneDrive had four second place and no third place finishes, though. Dropbox finished last twice and Google Drive three times.

    The table below tallies our votes. Remember, a first place finish receives two points, second place one point and third place no points.

    Categories:Dropbox:Google Drive:OneDrive:
    Pricing and StorageThirdFirstSecond
    File SyncFirstThirdSecond
    File SharingSecondThirdFirst
    Cloud AppsThirdFirstSecond
    Total Points:5 points4 points6 points

    The race is close, with OneDrive nosing out the others for a victory with six points, Dropbox finishing with five points and Google Drive coming in last with four.

    Picking between Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive ultimately depends on what you need from a cloud storage provider and what you’re willing to put up with to get it.

    OneDrive’s greatest weakness is by far the absence of at-rest encryption for home consumers. If you can overlook that, it’s the best of the bunch. If you can’t, Dropbox is a better choice, though it comes at a cost that many will find unpalatable and doesn’t have as many apps as Google Drive or OneDrive.

    For collaboration, Google Drive is the best of  the three. Its rebranding as Google One and increased storage capacities should boost its already-considerable active user figures. For the record, we use Google Drive here at CommQueR.com for producing content, in part, because it’s so convenient. The downside is privacy, which is why we also use pCloud.

    In a nutshell, we’re declaring OneDrive the winner, but with the disclaimer that it isn’t the best choice for everyone. Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject below, and thanks for reading.

    1. Final Winner: OneDrive (Six Points)
    2. Runner-Up: Dropbox (Five Points)
    3. Third Place: Google Drive (Four points)
    Starts from $ 399 per month for 500 GB
    Free plan available Save 20 %
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    113 thoughts on “Best of The Big Three: Dropbox vs Google Drive vs Onedrive”

    1. In the world we leave in today, more and more people store more and more data, there is a great need for larger online cloud storage. With the automatic backup capability of google drive on all device that a user typically owns (iphone, macbook, wintel laptop, including other family members’ devices, etc.), storage can grow quickly. 1 tb is no longer enough. With the amount of photos and videos from mobile phones and cameras being taken year round, google is the only one providing reasonable storage at a reasonable price.

      1. Yes, this is the problem with DropBox. I am an individual contractor, so I don’t need a multi-user business plan. For individual users including their individual professional plan, Dropbox limits to 1TB. That’s not enough. That leaves me with two options: (a) buy a 5-person Dropbox business plan for one person; or (b) switch to Google Drive. Dropbox needs to allow the purchase of additional storage space for individual professional plans.

    2. I’ve worked with all three, and I agree with the analysis and comparisons made.

      There’s one major flaw of OneDrive the writer didn’t pick up on though: it’s incredibly unreliable when it comes to syncing large and complex data, e.g. folders containing hundreds or thousands of subfolders with hundreds or thousands of files. The desktop client might stop syncing altogether, leaving you no option but to manually reset it, and it frequently misplaces files with the same filename, i.e. it will swap a file named “01.docx” with a different file named “01.docx” that’s contained in a different folder.

      Google Drive occasionally has some issues with syncing too, but the worse that can happen here is you end up with a few duplicate files that you can easily remove later.

      Dropbox is the best by far in this area. It syncs everything just fine, and simply works.

      1. Agree, that’s the major reason I still pay for drop box, in spite of holding office 365 membership…

      2. That OneDrive flaw makes it worse than useless for serious storage of data. I just stumbled on a mess of empty folders after noticing that OneDrive had hung when uploading a folder with just 4 GB of data. Spread the word: OneDrive is a hazard!

      3. Totally agree. I had the same experience and have pulled my hairs more than once for services which are sold to bring peace of mind…

      4. I have to disagree. I used Dropbox to back up my files while my laptop was being fixed. I borrowed a friend’s laptop, only to find that I couldn’t access all of my saved files. Checking online, I wasn’t the only person to have the same syncing issues. I could only access all of the data on the original laptop. I’ve no idea why. I’m hoping Google Drive will sync better and be easier to use.

        1. If your laptop broke before it could finish uploading the newly added files to the Dropbox server, surely you won’t be able to access these files from a different PC

        2. I had the same problem with two computers. On one computer, Dropbox was not syncing files and I didn’t find that out until my hard drive failed. Just like you, I looked online for those files only to find they were not there. They were on my hard drive but only until it failed and was replaced. Once that happened, no more files. On the other computer, I wiped the hard drive clean at the suggestion of Apple support only to find that Dropbox never functioned properly after that. I always had the blue “about to be synced” icon instead of the green check mark. I just left it because I hardly use that computer and thought I could download whatever I needed. I just didn’t count on new files not syncing.

      5. Thank you for pointing this out – much appreciated!
        You’ve helped me to make a decision.

    3. What a through comprehensive and very helpful assessment. Well done. I use Dropbox (1TB) and Google Docs (15GB), and I have a OneDrive account but don’t need it) and was weighing up whether it was worth settling on just one of them. Answer is to probably stick with what I have! 🙂

    4. One problem I encountered with Google Drive is the requirement to use only the default C:\GoogleDrive folder: a while ago I added a 125GB SSD to host only the (Windows 7) OS. This meant that all my data and non-system applications had to be moved to D:\ – including the G-drive folder. Since then, I have experienced continuous synching problems. The response from G-Drive support was “read the policy fine print”: we don’t guarantee it will work using other folder paths. The best kludge was to have a Google Drive folder link on C, to the actual destination. But now I’m too scared to store stuff there…

    5. Dropbox can have terrible UX though & the company doesn’t care.

      After manually uploading large files into my Dropbox & having the app ignore the active WiFi connection in favor of the LTE connection (& burning through my monthly data plan in the process) and then being told by their support team that this was not a problem & was done on purpose I stopped paying for Dropbox Pro in favor of Google Drive.

    6. Your Excellent Assessment is Deeply appreciated. Looking at buying a Microsoft Surface specifically to leverage the power of Onenote and get an Office 365 Home Subscription. If it were not for your assessment One Drive’s lack of data-at-rest encryption for consumers would have got by me. For now my storage stays with Google. Again – Thanks-A-Million!!! Jay

    7. Some issues with Google Drive:

      Not being able to download folders for offline work or using in other apps on android/iOS. Also no way to give ownership of a file in Google Drive personal means that you can use up your storage on business files. Not sure if those apply to the others.

      And what about the AWS offering?

      1. ??? “Not being able to download folders for offline work or using in other apps on android/iOS.”

        That is basically one of the main reasons I use Google Drive. You can work on anything while offline and sync the next time your online.

    8. Thanks for doing this exhaustive work! We use all 3 in our company, but will likely move mostly to OneDrive (for Business). It does offer encryption at rest for business. Not sure how important it is for most consumer level storage, but everyone has their own opinion.

      Interestingly, we would never have consolidated Dropbox usage into Onedrive until Microsoft fixed the idiotic lack of co habitation of OneDrive and OneDrive for Business. Now, its seemless, and its free (included in 365) compared to the ever rising costs of Dropbox.

      Thanks again for the work you did on this

      1. Interesting. We are also using all three, and want to move away from DropBox. We had a major hickup after testing DB Business, then switching three accounts back to DB Plus. After deleting a team of DB Business (which unexpectedly deleted a team folder), a whole 120GB of files were suddenly deleted too! After one week of talking to support until we finally could explain our problem, we could recover our data. Since then, for the last 3 months, we have major syncing issues, some lost date, duplicated files and folders. A serious drama and hundreds of working hours lost on fixing issues with DROPBOX. I felt I needed to become a DB specialist to figure out how to fix our issues. Nightmare. Now I am testing Google Drive (too slow sync of large files!) and OneDrive.

    9. Nice and thorough review, but one thing to add is that as a new user some services are more intuitive than others. I admit that I have not used Google Drive, but between Dropbox and OneDrive I found Dropbox to be the easiest to adopt. Plus, with the Premium 1TB annual subscription you have live support.

      I recently switched to OneDrive due to the 5TB included with a 5-user Office 365 Home subscription. OneDrive has, so far, been extremely frustrating to set up and sync with multiple devices. Plus, OneDrive offers no live support either by phone or chat. The Virtual Assistant is worthless and I found that a Google search bar is more efficient in finding answers. I have not bothered with sending an email, so I cannot comment on Microsoft’s response time. In my opinion, when it comes to support, OneDrive takes a distant second to Dropbox.

      1. I have been using one drive on about 5 machines so far and it’s flawless. Setting it up is simple. Install the app, log in and away you go. I haven’t encountered any of the problems you have described.

      2. that 5 TB storage is actually only 1 TB storage per user and so where they say 5 TB storage is the total storage for all 5 user – well that is how I interpret it – hoping I am wrong on that

    10. Great comparison, thanks. Here’s my remaining question. When looking at Dropbox, the comparisons don’t address the cost of Word via Office 365, which is the only seamless and “free” partnership with Dropbox. I have standalone Word 2011, and it keeps crashing. Ok, its time to update. Normally I’d buy the standalone Word. Dropbox doesn’t integrate with Google Docs and it works best with Office 365, not the standalone. I looked at cloud managers for a workaround, but then there’s yet another fee! I’m going to have a hard time using Google docs with my one gov’t client. If I buy Office 365, in effect, it doubles the price I pay to use Dropbox! Are there options I’m not seeing?

      1. Hi, Pam! Yeah, buying Office 365 makes it hard to justify spending on Dropbox. Dropbox does integrate with Office Online, though, which is Microsoft’s free version of Office 365. The main difference is that you have to work from a browser-based word processor (like Google Docs) and that takes some getting used to. Once you do, though, you won’t even notice. Hope that helps. Best of luck with your business 🙂

    11. One of the better well written reviews of any types of offerings I have seen in some time. Thank you for taking what must have been a large amount of time to do this!

    12. Incremental sync and sharing management (and, more recently, file requests) puts dropbox a long way ahead in usability and ease of collaboration. Incremental sync has been along for such a long time that it’s hard do understand why the competition hasn’t picked it so far.

    13. I’ve been using Dropbox for our staff to access our shared files/docs. The problem we’ve had is that when two or more people are editing at the same time – or just have the same document open – we get conflicted copies, which take our staff a lot of time to resolve.

      Great evaluation of all three cloud options, but this issue wasn’t mentioned. Do the other two options avoid this issue?

      1. CommQueR.com - Chief Editor

        That’s because Dropbox is constantly changing this function, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…Right now if you want more than two people working simultaneously on a doc, you probably want to use Google Drive.

      2. It also depends on the version of Dropbox you are paying for. If you are using Dropbox Plus with 1TB of space and sharing the same login info, then you will always have conflicted files because Dropbox would only see that, in essence, there is only on person logged in.

        If you were to upgrade to Dropbox Business or Have multiple Plus accounts, you wouldn’t have this issue any longer. The reason being that Dropbox offers a feature called Dropbox Badge with Office files. This feature allows you to see anyone else viewing or editing a file. You can leave realtime comments on the file as it is edited, and if someone makes changes and saves them all other parties viewing the file are updated on the changes and prompted to update the file to the new version.

        This feature alone makes Dropbox leaps and bounds better than the competition when working with word documents and files.

        You can also directly open Adobe files within Dropbox online as well sign PDF’s within the web client.

    14. Dropbox support absolutely non existent.
      We are long term business users of dropbox. We have subscribed to a 30 user business plan for many years. it has gone through a lot of changes of name over that time. Each year renewal was a simple process. Thsi year however has bene quite different. For reasons unknown we have bene unable to review. We raised a ticket with support who were unable to help much but in the middle of troubleshooting our count was downgraded to a free one. needless to say this meant that effectively dropbox stopped working for us. It also meant we lost access tot the admin panel and hence the support.
      Since then we have tried and tried to get this problem sorted. There is zero response form sport and finding a human to talk to is impossible.

      The pre-sales team open a chat quickly and have repeatedly promised to “escalate to management” but no response at all

      We have been dead in the water for almost a week.

      Shopping for alternatives now

    15. Use OneDrive for sharing with China !

      If you need to share files from US to China (we manufacture there) you better be using OneDrive. anything else will have you pulling out your hair. I can’t say that this applies to OneDrive personal, only for OneDrive Business.

    16. I would agree that One Drive would place last in this fight, but even with the thorough analysis, it seems a stretch to call Dropbox a winner here. As other users have mentioned, customer support is terrible and 2GB free vs Google’s 15GB is crazy in 2017. I have single photos and audio docs larger than 2GB, making a free dropbox account essentially worthless, so for the average user, I’m not sure what the draw to Dropbox would be. You mentioned that the 15GB is also linked to photos and Gmail, but do note that if your settings are correct, uploaded photos can be (unnoticably) compressed so they don’t count against your quota. Same goes for Google Docs/Spreadsheets/Slides – they don’t count against your limit. I’m not sure I agree with your assesment on sharing options – though you can’t create “timed” access with an expiration, you certainly can have the equivalent of password protected files and folders just by adding or removing people (or groups) from a shared file/folder, since access depends on a login to a Google account already. A password protected link seems a bit redundant, since anyone who shares the link can just as easily share the login information.

      1. Agreed: Dropbox customer support TERRIBLE. I had to become an expert reading hundreds of DROPBOX manuals to be able to ask the right question and finally tell them what needed to be done to fix my problem! Nightmare!

    17. Well… rats. As a recent subscriber to Office 365 Personal, I was looking for comparisons like this in the hopes that I could justify dropping the cost of Dropbox and switch to the included 1TB of OneDrive. Based on the information in this thorough review, and some of the comments that followed, it looks like I’m better off sticking with Dropbox, even if it costs me an extra $15 a month.

      Not great news financially, but at least I feel more educated and have justified my decision. Thanks!

    18. You should add a comparison category for which plays the nicest with other applications. DropBox insists on glomming onto 10 of the 15 shell extension icon overlays available in windows, disabling the icon overlays for other software (think source control). Which is why I am here looking for an alternative…

      1. CommQueR.com - Chief Editor

        That’s….a very good idea. Keep an eye out, we’ll see if we can get something together over the next few weeks.

        Fergus (chief editor)

      2. Not familiar with that terminology. Can you explain what you mean and the negative impact that has?

    19. If your dropbox files are downloaded too much, they lock your account for longer and longer amounts of time. They won’t/can’t tell you how long you will be locked, and there is NO way to know how close you are to the limit. Once you go over, they lock you, and then you just have to wait. Which is really frustrating if you use this to share with business customers

    20. I spend $100cdn a year for 5 terabytes (1 terabyte per family member) of storage and Office 365 for the entire family. I save hundreds of dollars a year compared to Dropbox or iCloud. With 2 of my kids in University, the included Office 365 is a big bonus.

    21. I would like to know which one of these services are best for cloud storage, meaning that I don’t have to download/store everything on my laptop. Can any of these act as purely a cloud storage?

    22. Can I use all 3 for their free space? Personal in one (photos, emails), Current business in another, and misc/old business in 3rd?

    23. Great article, but it doesn’t address the main issue we have with Google Drive – When changes are made online to Word/Excel files it creates a new document in google doc format. So for Mac users, unless you sync an entire folder (which takes up too much space), you can’t edit a Microsoft Office file within that folder. Also, if we currently use G-Suite for business email, but want to use Dropbox for storage/collaboration are there any alternatives besides purchasing business plans for both???

      1. Having the same issues with new documents being created. I just purchased Drive for my team and like that’s integrated with G-Suite business email but am reluctant to pull the plug on Droxbox bc of the synch issues. What did you decide?

    24. Dropbox allows you to download files to the SD card of your smartphone ( even with android 4.4)
      None of the others allow that.

    25. Which site is best for downloading multiple full-resolution photos? I know each site will store uncompressed images, but am not sure which allows me to download large numbers of photos at once without losing any image quality.
      Many thanks.

    26. I have used Dropbox for several years with my team all located in 4 different states. We do pay for the 1T service and have never been disappointed. I used Google drive for a period of time, great syncing but poor integration with MS Office products at that time.

    27. as per price i think one drive is pretty ok. but in order to get strict security for normal customers one should get Mega nz cloud for keeping very important files.200 gb mega storage would be way enough for storing only important files.

    28. I’ve been wondering whether having various cloud based apps syncing is causing my devices to slow down more than just using one, and whether this means I lose track of duplicate files that would be easier to sort out with one cloud application.

      I was tempted to pay for more space on Google Drive but downloading multiple files from Google Drive zips them up incredibly slowly even for small file sizes. I like Dropbox for it’s speed and convenience but the extra space subscription is too pricy.

    29. I had one very unfortunate incident recently sharing files with Google Drive.
      A user uploaded a couple of new files into folders owned by a central account which everyone was sharing. Fine so far.
      A little while later the original user deleted his GoogleDrive account because he had ended up with two, and was cleaning up. As a result the shared copies of the documents, which he still ‘owned’ as far as GoogleDrive was concerned disappeared from the shared folder. Worse no one noticed for more than 30 days so they were unrecoverable.
      After testing, Dropbox handles ownership differently, and this does not happen.

    30. Have enjoyed Dropbox until the iOS app seems unable to release the cache – and is using up valuable storage. This makes me shop around – hence reading this article. Was thinking about OneDrive until I learned the personal version doesn’t encrypt at rest.

      1. CommQueR.com - Chief Editor

        Hi Tony,

        Yes, there’s that, and the fact that OneDrive is U.S.-based, which may not be the smartest play at this very moment with all the goings on. Not sure what your current situation is, but if you’re looking for a SMB solution I’d suggest checking out our best EFSS article or, if it’s just you and maybe one or two others, our general storage article. I’ll link both below, but I have a feeling you’d like Sync.com for its excellent security.



    31. Thanks a lot for the review. I use all three services, and it’s very true: OneDrive is far behind the other two services re sync speed and reliability. I would really like to hear from MS themselves, what’s their vision for winning the strong competition from Dropbox and the ever evolving inter-connect-ability of Google Drive.

      Cheers from Israel.

    32. Google Drive’s “Backup and Sync” has been giving me problems, every time I shut down the computer it blocks the shutdown process, and if you don’t kill the application during the shutdown process the computer returns to the desktop.

      This issue has been around for a very long time, and affects millions of users, but Google seems to do nothing about this bug.

    33. I used all three of them. There is nothing to debate: the analysis is correct.
      Just check if you have had problems.
      Dropbox: never had problems, even when a big “accident” happened, and 1000’s of files where deleted, recovery was a blink of an eye. While the same thing with Gdrive takes days. I didn’t dare to try with OneDrive.

      Conclusion (random order) : Gdrive: I’ve had my part of troubles
      OneDrive: the same, not very reliable
      Dropbox: NEVER, had a problem, their service is also very quick and resolvable.

      if you are a home user and user Office and some photos, stick to your free OneDrive.

      To all professionals, even the small ones: Dropbox is the only totally reliable cloud sync space.

      Needless to say: ALWAYS keep backups (I use ViceVersa, with a schedule to keep all files, and never lose one)

    34. Hi, I would like to hear something on two issues. Does anyone has something to say? Thanks in advance

      1. which one of these three work better with time machine backup sync;

      2. what about speed rate on the different cloud services (i tried One drive and I found it scary; it take a lot of time even to browse jpeg images…)

    35. I am a mortgage broker in Canada looking for a solution to my biggest problem. I am not that tech savvy so don’t laugh if I don’t know all the correct terms. Currently my 100+ annual mortgage clients email or text me their paystubs as photos (jpegs) and I need to upload them to the bank’s mortgage broker portal in .pdf format. I often have to print them first and then re-scan in my computer as pdfs. It is time consuming and they often become hard to read. Here is what I want to be able to do:
      buy cloud storage where I can create an individual file for each client, send them a link that is password protected so they can upload their documents (paystub, letter of employment, Bank statements proving they have the down payment, etc). I need to be able to convert the documents into .pdfs so I can upload them without having to print them off and re-scan into my computer. For clients living far away, I would then like to be able to send the clients the mortgage approvals and have the ability for them to sign electronically if they prefer. I’d also like to be able to organize the mortgages I completed in a given year and create a list of the mortgage customers for future CRM. Any suggestions which provider would be best for me? Thanks for your help.

    36. CommQueR.com

      Hi, Laurie. Thanks for commenting! For converting files, I like to use a tool called CloudCovert, a free add-on for Google Drive.

      However, I think you’re going to want to use Dropbox since Google Drive doesn’t have a file request feature and Dropbox does. You can create shared folders with Google Drive and invite your clients to add files to them, but that would require them setting up a Google account which is probably more work than you want to ask of them.

      Dropbox also has a built-in PDF converter that you can use so you don’t have to spend all that time printing and scanning 😉 … Dropbox integrates with DocuSign, too, though its a “bit” trickier to use than DocuSign with Google Drive (imho).

      Dropbox also integrates with Office Online (free), so you can use Excel to track your mortgage customers. As far as organizing your mortgages, you can create folders and subfolders in Dropbox to do that.

      On a final note, if you did want to use Google Drive, you could just set up a WeTransfer account and have customers send you files that way. Its a good file transfer service with some customization options that let you easily build your own personalized webpage for customers to send you files. Then, use CloudCovert and DocuSign on Google Drive, and Google Sheets to track your clients.

    37. I want to upgrade my Dropbox account, but now I see that you need a “Professional” account to be able to use “Password-protected and expiring shared links”.
      You also need a Pro account to get “Live chat support”
      Plus: $ 9.99 / month
      Professional :$19.99 / month (too much I think)

    38. Thanks for this comparison. Since Dropbox Support has ruined 2 restore operations causing us countless headaches, we have to find another option. Google’s Team Drive doesn’t allow sharing of a subfolder, so that is out. Which leaves OneDrive (for Business), which is looking pretty good right now. Hopefully it will be more reliable than Dropbox.

    39. Dropbox is terribly inconvenient. It is impossible to see the size of your file, directory. There is no normal directory tree. Unable to download the archive of the directory or several files. After trying to work after google drive I just did not pull my hair out – so it’s all hard on the dropbox. Now I’m considering the options between ondraiv and google.

    40. I had paid use of dropbox for few years but recently changed to onedrive because it was free with my office 365. Terribly disappointed… My needs are small :what I save in my home computer must be automatically available from my work computer as well as my mobile, and vice versa, assuming all are connected to internet (I have about 40Mbps connection, not an issue).
      But it is not syncing in time.
      Very frustrating.
      I need to go back to Dropbox, I guess! They said they will not delete my account and storage till my paid subscription is over in August. Good.

    41. Dropbox is COMPLETE trash. DO NOT EVER USE DROPBOX!!!!!! It has deleted a bunch of files that are for my classes, and I can’t recover them- my lab final is in 2 days and I am missing a huge chunk of my study material because of Dropbox!!! Never again!!!!

    42. @Spideroak: Good and well-priced for backups, but cannot recommend for synchronization of large filesets.

      For me the spideroak client frequently stalls, leaving devices unsynchronized without warning. And once it detects a synchronization conflict (i.e. file changed on both devices without sync in between) it simply chooses the newer version, meaning that the earlier work is lost.

      As a side-effect, this also means that it is safe (but not recommended) to synchronize .git directories over Dropbox, but they frequently break when synchronized by Spideroak.

    43. As personal user only thing which adds every day on my phone is pics and videos. What best way to view them and have google run all kinds of AI n facial recognition. So Google Photos makes it tilt my decision

    44. How about adding two factor authentication support and usage on mobile devices.

      I’ve found dropbox to work better with regards to this.

    45. I have very bad experience with Dropbox. I am using it for my company data but dropbox is supporting Windows Server 2012 though it was running flawlessly for certain time. Two months before, it stopped and crash and till now not able to start again. Dropbox says more than 300K files syncing will degrade the performance. Due to Windows Server 2012 and more than 300K file, dropbox support team raised their hands to solve this issue. Now looking for alternate as G-drive or OneDrive.

    46. For me it all comes down what you need the cloud storage for and how you intend to use it.

      Google Drive Dose it for me, cause am more consider with storage and I can access my files from my Machine PC or Mac.

    47. Thank you, very helpful. I was considering switching over to OneDrive from Dropbox, but with the security concern, I’ll stick with Dropbox.

    48. Great article, many thanks.
      One update is that One Drive on their business plans now offers encryption at rest. I personally will stay with Dropbox because it just works without any issue, but thought the update would be useful.

      1. CommQueR.com

        Thanks for the comment, Matthew. We did mention in the article that OneDrive Business encrypts at rest. For home consumers, it’s definitely worth encrypting files privately using Boxcryptor or another service.

    49. I have used DropBox for probably 10 years or more. In 2012 or so it came as a suggested cloudstorage with a new SAMSUNG Note device, giving me 70GB of storage for free for a year. I loved that! All my photos were almost instantly available on my PC, laptop, etc when came back to my office after taking pictures at a business meeting.

      When my free subscription run out I upgraded to PLUS. As my business grew and I needed access for my team to my huge storage I now bought a second PLUS ACCOUNT in 2016. That worked quite well too, except the syncing issues when working on same EXCEL files, resluting in Sync Conflicts, We resolved this by only ever having one person working on one file at the time.

      DROPBOX pestered me in 2017 to try DropBox BUSINESS one month for free. I needed a third account anyway, so I decided to give it a try,

      I should NEVER have done that!

      Dropbox BUSINESS disables the Photo syncing of mobile phones – for GOD’S SAKE? Hello?

      That’s why I got into DropBox in the first place. Great marketing over years to lure me in, and then the DESTROY the work of their marketing team in a click of a button!

      It took me and my team TWO weeks to figure that out that the syncing had stopped because of DROPBOX BUSINESS. We changed settings, waited, etc. only after a support call did we figure out the mistake with them.

      Ok. So I changed back to have 3 PLUS accounts for me and my team. OH GOD, now we had PLUS accounts and new 3 personal accounts!!!

      Then I started cleaning up my files and deleted a TEAM left over by DropBox Business. What I did not realize, that deleting a team, the TEAM FOLDER was deleted too! And with 125GB of FILES: My God, I took 1 week of talking to support for ME to figure out how to get my 125GB of deleted files back.

      I will be leaving DROPBOX. Maybe I will keep one account, for the phone syncing option. Testing Google DRIVE. Not usable for large files! For small files it is ok. But every time I make a change in my 125GB folder it takes a week to sync and using my PC juices, slowing it down and heating up the harddrive.

      Microsoft ONE DRIVE is the next candidate to test. We really liked that the DropBox syncing issue in Google Drive and Microsoft is resolved. And Google PHOTOS uploads the photos from my phone into a free cloud storage.

      But the speed of the syncing is of course is an important issue for my team and me. And DropBox compared to Google is by far the faster option when it comes to syncing.

      But DropBox Support is lacking. They always send you to read a manual and follow the instructions there. Honestly, I can find the manuals myself. What I need is human help. And only after insisting, chats and dozens of emails, is the problem finally escalated to a person who actually understands DropBox better than me after I had rad a ton of manuals. We had huge problems for the last 8 months!

    50. I started the switch over to Google Drive. The price was right and I trusted the system. I was wrong. Google Drive can’t seem to handle large amounts of files. I used it to backup my Lightroom files. I had 100,000+ thousand files, not including photos. Not only did it drop all of my Lightroom files, it killed them on my computer via the sync. The files were not in the trash. I lost all of my edits for 60,000+ photos. I’m going back to dropbox. The new features are great and the reliability is significantly better.

    51. great analysis, but it should have accounted for one more issue: tech support. I have only used dropbox and I have no point of reference on the other two. DB customer service, although it seems to try its best, sucks. It is obviously outsourced to third world countries, which to a degree is a security issue, and the reps are most of the time low IQ and English challenged. DB is saving a few bucks at the expense of service quality and possibly security, not to mention the fact that it is sending jobs overseas.

    52. You forgot to add in this article that Dropbox takes your space even if somebody shares files with you. I haven’t had any single file uploaded by me and yet had my quota “exceeded” because somebody shared many files with me, then bombed with emails/notifications to buy more storage. This is just plain stupid and this “feature” alone is sufficient for me to not use nor recommend Dropbox to anyone.

    53. For me, the best answer seems to be all of them! Professionally I tend to use Google Drive more, while OneDrive and Dropbox are more for personal files, the former for text/PDFs and the latter for video/audio. I’d rather have a larger quota in one application than sharing storage across three of them, but I’ll take my storage any way I can get it.

    54. I purchased Dropbox Business Advanced so I could share folders with my assistant (did not like having to pay for a third subscription which I did not need). While we were preparing for a major presentation both my assistant and I were working on different documents and saving them to a shared dropbox folder – or at least we thought we were. It turned out we were both working on/saving documents to the folder which the other person could not see. We ended up having to email large documents to one another during our final push to get the presentation completed. It was crazy and hard to keep up with latest versions of documents. Dropbox could not help me fix the problem while it was happening, but suggested I unshare the folder and then reshare to see if that worked – it did not. There are still documents in the shared folder that only one of us can see. Dropbox explanation was “that just happens sometimes” when a lot of documents are shared to a folder over a relatively short period of time. No fix in the works. For what I pay $$$$$ I expect better. Now I am looking for other solutions because I need all documents in a shared folder to be visible to all the individuals sharing the folder.

      I see others describe sharing/syncing problems with onedrive, which would be my #2 choice, so I’m hesitant to make a move to that. I have never used google docs for file management and don’t use gmail for business emails, so I am hesitant to move to google business. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    55. I’ve used Dropbox for years, possibly since it’s start. It mostly worked well on PCs, but currently it seems to be a significant resource hog on MacOS. I have the Pro Plus version with virtual files/folders because I do most if my image editing on a older MacBook Pro and hard drive space is limited. But Dropbox syncing seems to bring the notebook to its knees — especially on startup.

      1. I agree with your comment regarding eating up storage on a MacOS. I have been a Dropbox subscriber for 5-6 years with no problems. I now have a MacBook Air and unable to use my Dropbox account as I did in the past due to storage issues.

    56. I’ve used all three and still try the two I don’t use routinely – Google Drive and Dropbox – just to see if they’ve improved on the things I don’t like about them. As a freelancer I have to do my own IT work, so I’m always looking for the most intuitive, easiest to use service that’s also packed with value and easy for clients to use. That’s why I use OneDrive over the other two for my business. I’ve had zero issues through the years, and every client that’s ever used it remarks on how much easier to use it is than the other two. The fact it integrates so seamlessly with online app versions of Word, PPT, Excel, etc. and sync beautifully if you’re working off a desktop version and syncing to the cloud – to the point you can often see revisions in real time – is a bonus. Hands down, it’s OneDrive over either of the other two for my purposes.

    57. I have used all 3. I still have my Google account and Office 365 account.

      The price and arrogance of DropBox is what really moved me away. The web UI is confusing at best. Creating a shared folder for people to drop stuff in uses a file request, as in you are requesting files from them. So much easier with both Google Drive and way better with OneDrive now that the person does not need a OneDrive account (Google requires a gmail account). Also DropBox just has no real value add like both Google and especially Office 365.

      At times all of them have had bad sync speeds. All of them basically have the same sync speed to me now. Google does get hung up more but not often.

      OneDrive sync was so messed up 2-3 years ago it was not usable to be honest.

      However I do know they had a massive internal merger so to speak. The consumer stuff from the hotmail/live/outlook/skydrive stuff was running on legacy acquisition infrastructure. The business side was all Microsoft running on Exchange/Sharepoint. All of it now runs on the latest versions Exchange/Sharepoint running on Azure. The One Drive Sync client in its current form (October of 2018) has the most options with sync on demand etc. I have it setup on 3 Windows computers, a Mac, a iPad and my iPhone. Each is set to sync different parts local with my home desktop syncing everything local so I can back it up to a local drive and backblaze.

      The fact that you get full Office with either the personal or Home is the thing that pushed me to OneDrive. I like Google Docs, but 85% of world uses MS Office still.

    58. I’m a commercial and event photographer using the Dropbox Business plan but now I’m running into an issue with Dropbox limiting the monthly API calls to my Synology box.

      Because of the number of photos, I can take during the busy season months, and the use of Adobe Lightroom, Dropbox stops working for me. I’ve been in contact with Dropbox Business support many times and there are two issues they cannot solve.

      1. Dropbox will not let you exclude certain file types – It they would all you to filter certain file types from syncing that would solve part of the issue
      2. Dropbox sync (smart sync and selective sync) will sometimes crash with large folders (as others have mentioned with OneDrive – this forces Dropbox to try to sync the entire folder AGAIN and thus creating more API calls

      So now I’m left trying to find another solution

    59. I’m a writer (novels and technical) and I’ve used Dropbox for years and I’ve never lost a single thing. Which is why, despite have MS Office 365 Home and a terabyte of storage I never use, I’m still thinking about paying for Dropbox. I am going to try that google drive plug-in mentioned upstream, but in all likelihood I’m going to stick with Dropbox. I’m hoping it’s a sensible decision based on logic and not just a familiarity thing since I’ve used DB for so long. Great article and comments. Just wanted to add my data point. Cheers.

    60. Thanks for the great review – I use all three, and working on multiple projects was paying for G & DB. Another strength of DBox and weakness for the others is if you have to travel to developing countries, or interact with weak internet infrastructure. DBox never lost a file in five years, whereas Google did, and OneDrive (and MS generally) assumes the ‘first world’ is the only world.

    61. Really impressive, thorough review – great work. We’ve used paid DropBox accounts for a number of years now, and you totally nail both its beauty and its limitations. For me, the decider has been the decay of DropBox’s support service – for the premium price they charge, I expect better than the incompetent indifference I’ve encountered recently. Having seen OneDrive sort out its biggest issues over the same period, we’re going to give that a try (the bonus being that it’s free, since we already have Office365 Premium Business subscriptions). Thanks again for a great article.

    62. For me, I’ve used dropbox for years, and upped to the sub plan of $99/yr for 1TB. However, I realized while I was paying for the MS Office that I also received 5 1TB online drives through OneDrive and that’s another $99/yr, so I figured as long as the syncing goes well and I don’t have issues, that perhaps OneDrive would be my solution. Even though Google One has 2TB for the same price, I’m trying to reduce costs currently, so since I need Word, Excel, etc. for my household, I might as well take advantage of already paying for it and just use the 1TB OneDrive for now.

    63. This comparison seems to assume the whole world is using Windows. Surely a significant aspect of any online file storage/sharing service is how good their support is for non-Windows OSs. The Dropbox native client is first class on Windows, Linux and Mac. Good luck with OneDrive…

      I also strongly disagree with the results of Round Two. I’ve used OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive extensively and OneDrive’s syncing is _awful_. Every day it gets into a state where the document I _just_ saved becomes read-only and I can no longer edit it unless I save it under a new name. Useless junk.

      1. CommQueR.com - Chief Editor

        Hi Steve,

        Cloudwards’ chief editor here. Well, to your first point, from a practical standpoint the whole world is, in fact, using Windows (I say that as a Linux user), unless you feel that a market share of over 90 percent is insignificant. Mac and Linux users are, however, well catered for on this site, with several articles dedicated to online software that plays nice with these OSes.

        As for your OneDrive issue, that doesn’t sound like a problem with syncing as such, but rather something else. I googled your issue and this thread popped up as the first result, maybe it will help you? https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/onedrive/forum/sdfiles-sdopen/why-are-my-onedrive-documents-opening-in-read-only/beff9672-72c4-4afe-a199-b029d400a45b?page=2

        Kind regards,
        Fergus O’Sullivan

        1. In the PC world, sure – it’s Windows 90% of the time. In the phone/tablet world, not even close. iOS is the major in the U.S. – so iCloud should have been included in the comparisons.

    64. All these tools are really designed to stop working with our data in local servers, to move it on the WEB without limits in number of folders, files, easy sharing with users out of office, etc.
      So moving all the company data to the cloud is good to optimize the sharing, mobility … but working with engineering documents, plans, spreadsheets every day is another song.
      We are not there yet, the Internet access lines are not as fast, reliable, or secure, neither are web applications good enough compared to the desktop ones.
      It is directly a contradiction: Let’s see … we have the fastest computers, with a lot of RAM, core i5-i7, SSD disks, local gigabit networks and now we need 10 seconds to open a simple file or Outlook to be able to work 5 minutes while it finishes to synchronize …… because we have saved it in Dublin?.
      I work in some clients with Gdrive and OneDrive, with millions of files and thousand of folders…. it is simply, neither of them works properly, they are not reliable, they hang and data is lost if you work with Windows explorer (and users want to use Windows explorer). Finally we have adopted a hybrid solution because it is impossible to work depending exclusively on the cloud.
      Without saying that in any case we need a backup solution; retention is not the same and is not reliable.
      Thanks a lot for your opinions

    65. I am a student who uses a Mac for most purposes, iPad to take notes in class, and Ubuntu for all my programming assignments. I need a cloud service that will sync all my devices. I have tried iCloud and OneDrive but found them to be unsatisfactory. Would Google Drive or Dropbox sync better with all my devices?

    66. Thank you for this comparison of the 3 cloud options. It was clear and easy for a non-tech person to understand. I am starting a blog and I am looking for cloud storage to back-up everything associated with the blog – the blog itself, images, posts alone, etc. I thought I would go with google drive until I read that it uses only the google office apps. I already have an Office 365 subscription (a personal one). I’d like to continue using those apps. I’m wondering if you have looked at google one (mentioned in the article) since it has now come out. Do you have a recommendation for me? I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks

    67. One vital point missing here, if you need to conduct business in China or access your google drive in China, that is impossible unless you add a reliable VPN to your cost

    68. There is another significant difference between OneDrive and Google Drive and that is how they handle uploaded photos. You can set your smartphone to automatically upload photos to either service (and never lose another photo to a damaged or lost phone), but Google Drive has a subset called Google Photos that treats them a bit differently. With Google Photos, you have unlimited storage but any photos over 16MP are compressed unless you choose High Quality. With the HQ setting, your stored photos then go against your free or paid storage limit. With OneDrive photos are not compressed.

    69. Great article and a lot of valuable information. In the area of cloud storage security, there is a very effective and free solution that at least works with both OneDrive and Google Drive. VeraCrypt, a fork of the now defunct TrueCrypt, can be used to create a very secure encrypted folder within your local OneDrive or Google Drive folder (theoretical should work equally well on any other service). Once you have set up your VeraCrypt container, you just need to change the setting In Veracrypt to put the “Preserve modification timestamp of file containers” option turned off. The timestamp on the Truecrypt volume file is then updated when you unmount it. I used this solution with a financial advisor client and it works perfectly with OneDrive and properly syncs all changes to the encrypted container.

      1. VeraCrypt works best with Dropbox, because of the block level file transfer. I know with Google Drive if you make a change to a VeraCrypt container, it has to sync the whole large file, instead of just needed chunks like Dropbox does (I tested awhile back). I would assume that Onedrive would be the same as Google Drive for this.

        Also, both VeraCrypt and Dropbox work on Linux if needed (which I need). Winner for me is Dropbox because of this.

    70. “That’s a different encryption protocol than the one used in file transfer, which indicates a serious problem with Dropbox. The company decrypts files upon arrival at its data centers, then encrypts them again.” This doesn’t indicate a problem at all; it’s simply how things WORK. TLS is, as the name suggests, transport layer security. TLS protects the connection itself, agnostic of the data flowing over it. The “file” as we understand it is not itself encrypted, but the “tunnel” that it flows through is. When it reaches the other end, it’s no longer in that tunnel. It doesn’t magically retain the encrypted status of the tunnel, so it needs to be encrypted before being written to disk. This is a consequence of how networks work, not an issue inherent in Dropbox’s design. There are solutions that encrypt the file itself before sending it, but those are targeted for much higher security uses than you’re discussing here.

    71. Nice comparison review. Was the recently imposed 3-device limit with the free version of Dropbox mentioned? Is so I didn’t see it. That’s the reason I’m jumping ship and reading this article. Eithe folder sync or cloud app on: 2 laptops, phone and work + personal tablets is what I need for personal documents.

    72. I tested all 3 of these and iCoud as well. Dropbox was the clear winner because it was the only one of the 4 that maintained total fidelity and the integrity of my my filing system which is critical to finding what you need when you need it. It also was the only cloud service to allow me to open my saved url’s from any other PC or Apple device. Google, Microsoft and Apple all have an axe to grind and their cloud services clearly show their biases as they try to force your files into their world.

      Dropbox is is agnostic and only has the users preferences in mind. If it stays that way it will become the User preferred app as users learn that they don’t have to put up with Apple, Google or Microsoft “unapproved and unsolicited improvements” to their own data and preferences.

    73. Dropbox is useless.
      Google Drive and OneDrive are the obvious winners, each with their own unique advantages, depending on their intended use.
      Where to start with Dropbox-
      Overpriced, a terrible UI design, dumb name. Currently under investigation for false and misleading SEC filings, a plummeting stock price- the list goes on. Get rid of Dropbox now and your life will dramatically improve.

    74. The major hang up our team has been having with OneDrive has been folder sharing with our team of 7 people. I found folder sharing seemless and a total breeze with both Google Drive and DropBox. In both of those applications, if you shar a folder to some one you simply drag it to your main folder in the online app and then that shared folder ans all it’s contents show up on your drive stream on your computer so you can easily save to those folders and access them without having to go login online. But with OneDrive, we have talked to countless support pros and Microsoft and no one seems to be able to answer WHY no one on our team seems to be able to share folders with each other that show up on their computer streaming files. Does anyone have this same issue or a solution? We want to use OneDrive instead of the other two but for this main reason we have not been able to get things going. Google Drive has never presented this issue not once and it was so easy a monkey could do it…not sure why OneDrive make folder sharing on your computer so difficult? Perhaps it’s the security or slowness? Really hope there’s a simple answer that we’ve just somehow overlooked…and so has Geek Squad, and Microsoft support…

    75. The office I work for is looking at switching to a cloud based system. We’re a newspaper and use InDesign for almost everything. Does anyone have any experience or insight on which of these would work best?

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