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Dropbox or Google Drive for your business: A buyer’s guide

In today’s connected world, keeping your files together across your laptops, mobile phones, workstations, and tabs can send you into a tizzy. This is where cloud storage comes in and saves you from all this craziness. These cloud storage services give you a streamlined way to access all your files, regardless of the device through which you’re accessing them. Also, you can read and edit your files from anywhere and they’re sure to be up-to-date as well. Due to this convenience and flexibility, many organizations today choose to provide public cloud storage for their employees to store their files so they can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. Now comes the big question. Which is the right cloud storage for your needs? The good news is that many service providers offer secure public cloud storage for your employees that also meets your business requirements. The two big names that typically come to mind when you think of cloud storage are Google Drive and Dropbox. Both companies offer a secure and robust cloud storage service designed for businesses of all sizes. But is Dropbox or Google Cloud the better choice for your business? We have put in considerable time and research into this one-on-one comparison to make it easy for you to decide the service that best fits your needs.

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Growth

Let’s start with a peek into how the two companies have fared in the last few years. In 2016, Dropbox announced that it had a whopping 500 million users, which was seen as a record-breaking feat then. But fast forward to 2019, and the number remains almost the same, according to an article on Fortune. This goes to show that Dropbox hasn’t seen phenomenal growth in the last three years. Google Drive, on the other hand, is booming. In 2014, Google drive had only about 240 million users and by 2019, this number had grown to 800 million, according to its CEO, Sundar Pichai. But this doesn’t mean Dropbox has been pushed off the cliff. Rather what it means is that both companies are fighting hard for supremacy in the cloud storage market and this is good news for users.

Dropbox or Google Drive: Feature comparison

Let’s do a feature-by-feature comparison to help you get a good idea of both these companies’ offerings.

Cost

Let’s start with the all-important financials. Businesses today look for value when it comes to choosing a service provider and, in this criterion, Google Drive is the winner. Dropbox offers 2GB storage when you sign up for an account, but that isn’t really much. So, if you want to truly leverage the benefits of cloud storage, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid subscription, which is fine, except that you only have the option to upgrade to 1TB. There are no other options such as 100GB or 500GB, it’s either 2GB or 1TB. The business edition also doesn’t offer any midway options. The only difference is that it comes with more features.

Dropbox

Cost

2 GB FREE
1 TB $9.99/month or $99.00/year
2 TB 319.99/month or $198.96/year
3 TB $15/month or $150/year
Unlimited $25/month or $240/year

Moving on to Google Drive, you get 15GB storage when you sign up. That’s a sizable amount for non-business users, but probably not large enough for most businesses. You can upgrade it to a paid plan and choose from 100GB or 200GB that hardly costs anything.

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This flexibility is essential especially for small businesses that don’t need a ton of storage and this is also where Google Drive scores over Dropbox in the flexibility it offers for its customers.

Google Drive Storage

Cost

15 GB FREE
100 GB $1.99/ month or $199.99/ year
200 GB $2.99/month or $29.99/year
2 TB $9.99/month or $99.99/year
10 TB $99.99/month
20 TB $199.99/month

Out of the two, Google Drive definitely scores in terms of value and flexibility. But what’s baffling is that Google Drive doesn’t provide a discount when you increase storage levels, which is something that we have come to expect in the cloud storage market. And Google offers no referral program while Dropbox provides 500MB for every referral up to a maximum of 16GB for nonpaying users and 32GB for paying users. But the free 15GB more than makes up for this hassle of referrals.

Speed

Speed is where Dropbox scores, as this is one of the features that made Dropbox popular in the first place. It offers fast syncing because it uses a technique called block-level file copying where only the changed bits are synced. This means when you sync a new file, it takes the longest for the first time and after that, only a few seconds to update the changes. This is why the updated version will be available across all your devices almost immediately.

Its local sync is also great as it uses a technique called LAN Sync to directly sync files across multiple computers connected to the same network. This is also why transferring files between computers is a lot faster with Dropbox.

Google Drive, on the other hand, doesn’t use block-level copying technique, but it has some of the fastest servers around the world. This server speed almost makes up for Dropbox’s technology, so you won’t notice a big difference between the two services, for the most part. But the real difference is visible when you transfer files across computers as the files will be uploaded to Google’s servers and downloaded again to another computer, and this uses more bandwidth as well.

Due to these reasons, Dropbox scores best in file transfer speed.

File sync

File sync is a feature that allows you to copy files automatically to different devices to save some time and effort. Dropbox was the pioneer of file sync and most storage providers use this model today. Still, Dropbox has some interesting features that haven’t been replicated by other providers. It has a local folder called Dropbox and whatever you put in that folder is moved to the cloud and through it, to other devices. But this means you’ll need a copy in your local disk as well as in the cloud, which is kind of self-defeating because one of the reasons many move files to the cloud to free up disk space. And that’s exactly why Dropbox offers a feature called “selective sync”, where you can choose to turn off the sync for some folders so its contents will be available only in the cloud. You can change this setting through the Preferences tab. If you’ve subscribed for 2TB or more, you can see this folder in your local disk too through a feature called “smart sync” that costs an extra $10 per month.

Google Drive takes the longer approach, but as mentioned earlier, the difference is insignificant for the most part because of its fast servers located around the world. This service also has a desktop client through which you can sync files and it also provides a selective sync feature through its taskbar icon. It offers another option to backup selected folders to the cloud. But remember, backup is not the same as sync and it doesn’t automatically make the updated files available to other devices.

In all, Dropbox still has an edge over Google Drive when it comes to file sync, although the smart sync feature is not worth the additional $10.

Security

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Security is another important feature of cloud storage. Both Dropbox and Google Drive understand the need to offer thorough and foolproof security and have gone all-out to provide it. Google Drive offers two-factor authentication to secure your account through SMS, authenticator app, one-tap sign-in from your phone, physical key, or a phone call with a code. Dropbox also offers all these authentication options except one-tap sign-in. Both services encrypt your data while it moves from your local device to the cloud and vice-versa. Also, both services generate a key that’s used to decrypt the data stored in the cloud when you want to access it. Google goes an extra step to encrypt that key through a master key.

In 2016, Dropbox had a massive data breach and implemented many security features, so it is definitely more secure today than it was before the breach occurred. In all, both service providers offer comparable security, though Google Drive is slightly better.

Productivity tools

Productivity tools that integrate with your cloud storage make it easy for your employees to browse, edit, and share content easily and quickly. In fact, these productivity tools are one of the biggest selling points for paid cloud storage services over the free ones. Dropbox doesn’t have many native apps, though it introduced one called Paper in 2017. This feature has many options for collaboration and editing and supports third-party embedded objects too. But this isn’t a whole lot as it has no formatting options and using it can be a bit cumbersome. Google Drive, on the other hand, is well-known for its ton of G Suite productivity apps that integrate well with its cloud storage, so Google scores over Dropbox in a big way when it comes to productivity apps.

Dropbox or Google Drive: Which is better for you?

From the above comparison, it is clear that both service providers offer more or less similar features though Google Drives scores slightly over Dropbox. But this doesn’t really matter much because the difference is minimal and the choice truly depends on what aspects matter more to you. For example, if having a bunch of productivity tools are a must-have for you, Google Drive is the choice. On the other hand, if reducing bandwidth use is a priority, Dropbox is the one for you.

In all, both services are comparable and this is probably why they are considered the two best cloud storage services in the world today. The exact choice should depend more on your personal preferences and business needs.

So, when it comes to Dropbox or Google Drive, which of the two do you like or use and why? Do share your thoughts in the comments section.

Featured image: Shutterstock / TechGenix photo illustration

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is a professional writer of tech and financial blogs. Creative thinker, out of the boxer, content builder and tenacious researcher who specializes in explaining complex ideas to different audiences.

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Lavanya Rathnam

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