Cloud Storage CPU Comparison in 2021: Get the Most Out of Your System’s Resources

Figuring out which cloud storage service takes the biggest toll on your system is a big task. That's why we've put together this cloud storage CPU comparison to help you optimize your system.

Aleksander Hougen
By Aleksander Hougen (Managing Editor)
— Last Updated: 2020-11-15T17:24:22+00:00 Facts checked by Andrea Babic

If you’re running an older system or you’d like to maximize the performance of your devices, you’re probably interested in how much of your computer’s resources your cloud storage uses. Finding concrete data on this is difficult though, so we’ve put together a cloud storage CPU comparison to give you an idea of which cloud-based services use the most of your computer’s resources.

To determine this, we ran some stress tests on all the most popular cloud storage services while monitoring how much of the computer’s resources they took up.

There are many other important factors to consider when judging cloud storage solutions though, so if you’d like to know which service provider is the best fit for you, head over to our best cloud storage list for more information.

  • CPU stands for “central processing unit” and is in many ways the “brain” of your computer.

  • With the exception of Google Drive and Amazon Cloud Drive, all the services we tested seemed well-optimized for CPU usage. That said, if we had to pick a winner, it would be MEGA, as it averaged out to less than a single percent of capacity and maxed out at around 10 percent.

  • That depends. If you’re the kind of person who likes to make your system or device as efficient as possible, then it matters. That said, compared to software like web browsers, media players or video games, the amount of CPU capacity that a cloud storage client uses isn’t significant.

Why Do a Cloud Storage CPU Comparison?

Because we can! Although it’s not the most important thing to take into account when deciding which cloud storage provider is right for you, we believe that every bit of data you can get your hands on can only help make the process easier.

How Does CPU Performance Impact Cloud Storage?

Honestly? Not all that much. As you’ll see in our results further down, cloud storage isn’t the most CPU-intensive type of software, so most users probably won’t notice much of a difference.

It’s also worth mentioning that most of the time these cloud storage applications will run quietly in the background and use very few resources. It’s only when you put them under severe stress by uploading large files and using the graphical user interface (GUI) intensely that they reach the usage we experienced below.

That said, if you’re the kind of person who likes to optimize your system as much as possible, or the device you’re using needs every little bit of power the CPU can possibly muster, then it might become relevant.

How Do You Compare CPUs?

In general, you compare CPUs by looking at their number of cores and clock speed. For example, we performed these tests using an Intel i5-6200U CPU, which has two cores and a clock speed of 2.30 GHz (short for gigahertz).

This CPU is on the older side, as it entered the market back in September of 2015. Even when it was new, it was firmly a mid-range laptop CPU, which means it has nowhere near the power of more recent hardware or more powerful desktop devices. That said, this makes it perfect for this comparison, as the more powerful your CPU is, the less the results of this comparison matter.

For the purposes of this comparison, we used a monitoring software called SysGauge, which gives you a rolling average over the last five minutes of any application’s resource usage. We then made each of the cloud services do as much work as possible by uploading a large folder while also playing around with the UI, and then had a look at the five-minute average for each.

CPU Comparison: The Cloud Storage Results

So without further ado, let’s get to the results themselves. Below we’ve listed most of the major cloud providers and how much of our CPU they used on average in a span of five minutes.

We’ve also included their max usage in that time frame, as well as how many threads they utilized and their RAM usage for good measure.

Average CPU load:Max CPU Load:Average threads:Average RAM usage:
Google Drive23.9%25%52298.8MB
Dropbox6.7%25%157382.6MB
OneDrive3.0%25%38131.6MB
Icedrive4.20%25%23101.9MB
MEGA0.80%10.30%2196.5MB
Sync.com3.80%25.20%29126.3MB
pCloud1.50%25%42144.3MB
Woelkli1.20%25%40111.5MB
Koofr1.90%13.50%69147.3MB
Amazon Cloud Drive10.40%25%70184.9MB
Tresorit8.90%25%69248.9MB

As you can see, most of the services fall in a similar range when it comes to CPU usage. Most of them max out at around 25 percent, and average out to 5 percent or less. There are a couple of outliers though — most notably Google Drive, but also Amazon Cloud Drive, which both consistently use far more of your CPU to perform heavy tasks.

In terms of RAM usage, results were again pretty similar. Outliers in this category were Google Drive (yet again), as well as Dropbox and Tresorit. None of the services used all that much RAM though, even under intense load, especially when compared to other types of software such as web browsers.

Even though none of these cloud storage services use a huge amount of resources, the few outliers mentioned above could take a noticeable toll on your CPU if it’s on the older or weaker side. Google Drive’s result of 23.9 percent CPU usage is especially high, which means it could easily become a burden for older systems.

Final Thoughts

That concludes our comparison of all the major cloud storage services’ CPU usage. Although most of the apps used a similar amount of CPU power, there were some clear outliers, which could tip the scales for users running older systems who are looking for the right cloud storage provider.

What did you think of our comparison? Were you surprised by the results? Have you had different experiences in your own tests? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.