obrBy Joseph Gildred — Last Updated: 09 Apr'18 2018-03-26T02:51:14+00:00

Dropbox vs Google Drive: the Battle of the Titans

Dropbox vs Google Drive 2015 Edition

The numbers say they rank as the two most popular personal cloud storage services today, but when it comes to choosing between Dropbox or Google Drive, how do you decide which is the better file hosting option for your documents, videos and photos?

You could spend hours trying them out, comparing respective costs and features, whipping out the old stopwatch to test sync speeds and experimenting with integrated applications like Office Online and Google Docs, but there’s really no need.

We’ve already done the legwork for you, and coming up, we’ll present the results in our updated Dropbox vs Google Drive matchup. Think of it as sumo wrestling for cloud storage.

For those looking for the short answer about which service lands on top, here it is: it depends. While it may surprise you that we don’t rank either Dropbox or Google Drive at the top of our best cloud storage charts due to a combination of weak security and limited value, both services perform well overall against most of the competition included in our cloud storage reviews library.

Which works best for you will depend on your precise needs, as both Dropbox and Google Drive do different things very well. Keep reading to find out precisely what those things are, or jump to our Dropbox review or Google Drive review for more detailed information on either.

The Battle: Dropbox vs Google Drive

Back in 2016, Dropbox celebrated breaking half-a-billion registered users with a self-congratulatory blog post. According to its more recent, March 2018 IPO filing with the SEC, that number remains kind of the same, suggesting overall user growth has plateaued.  

Business for Google Drive, meanwhile, is booming. The most recent count available, which came via an onstage announcement by Google CEO Sundar Pichai, is 800 million active users, and several billion accounts overall. Just three years prior, in 2014, Google Drive had only 240 million active users.   

Dropbox, once the undisputed king of the cloud storage mountain, hasn’t exactly been kicked off a cliff. The IPO filing also shows an increase in paying personal subscribers, from 6.5 million to 11 million. The company does well with business accounts, ranking among the best enterprise file sync and share services.    

However, it’s also clear that Google Drive, more than any other cloud storage provider, is challenging Dropbox for supremacy. How it’s doing that is part of the question we’ll answer coming up, as we match Dropbox against Google Drive over the course of five rounds: cost of storage, file sync, file sharing, productivity tools and security and privacy.

Starts from$ 1 99monthly for 100 GB
Visit Google DriveGoogle Drive Review
  • Google Docs integration
  • Many third-party apps
  • In-app collaborations
  • Strong customer support
  • Weak file-sharing security
  • No private encryption option
  • No block-level sync
  • Cheaper options
Starts from$ 9 92monthly for 1000 GB
Visit DropboxDropbox Review
  • Very fast sync
  • MS Office Online Integration
  • Dropbox Paper
  • Only up to 1TB
  • Expensive
  • Not zero knowledge
  • No 24/7 support
1

Cost of Storage

Value is key in choosing a cloud storage provider, which is what we’ll be checking out in round one. When we evaluate value, we look at cost per gigabyte but also plan flexibility. After all, there isn’t much value in a cheap 1TB plan when you only need 500GB. We’ll also take a look at free plans, the best value of all, to determine which of our two competitors presents the more tantalizing offer.

Dropbox

Sign up for a Dropbox account and you’ll get 2GB for free. Thing is, that isn’t very much, and doesn’t come close to sniffing some of the entries in our best free cloud storage article. Most users who are serious about Dropbox as a cloud storage solution will need to upgrade to a paid subscription.

For personal cloud storage, you’re forced to go straight to 1TB. There’s no middleground with Dropbox, like a 100GB of 500GB plan. Additionally, you can’t get more than 1TB as a home user. There’s a more expensive Dropbox Professional plan, but it doesn’t land you more storage, just better features.


PlanDropbox PlusDropbox ProfessionalDropbox Business
Price Plan
$ 9 99monthly
$ 119 00yearly
$ 19 99monthly
$ 239 88yearly
$ 15 00monthly
$ 180 00yearly
Storage 1000 GB 1000 GB 2048 GB
Details

There is one option to increase your storage capacity with Dropbox, however, that won’t cost any money. Dropbox has a decent referral program that will get you 500MB per referral if you’re a non-paying user, up a cap of 16GB, or 1GB per referral if you’re on a subscription, up a cap of 32GB.

Google Drive

With Google Drive, you get 15GB just for signing up. That’s a great deal, even if storage space is shared with Gmail and Google Calendar.

Should you need more gigabytes, Google also has a 100GB plan for just $2 per month. More than that, and you need to jump to 1TB, which like Dropbox Plus, will cost your around $10 per month.


Plan15GB100GB1TB2TB10TB20TB30TB
Price Plan
Freemonthly
$ 1 99monthly
$ 9 99monthly
$ 19 99monthly
$ 99 99monthly
$ 199 99monthly
$ 299 99monthly
Storage 15 GB 100 GB 1000 GB 2000 GB 10000 GB 20000 GB 30000 GB
Details

Free plan.

Annual Discount: 16%

Annual Discount: 17%

Annual Discount: n/a

Annual Discount: n/a

Annual Discount: n/a

Annual Discount: n/a


Google Drive has several more storage tiers beyond that, but we’re always miffed to remember that bumping up your storage doesn’t result in a discount, even if you sign up 20TB ($200). Google Drive doesn’t have a referral program, but that’s no surprise. The company doesn’t need them when it has Android smartphone sales driving registrations.

Round One Thoughts

Google Drive might not give free space for referrals like Dropbox, but it doesn’t matter. 15GB of free cloud storage is almost as much as you’d earn by referring 32 friends to Dropbox, and who has that many friends?

We also like the fact that Google Drive has a 100GB plan, and while it’s disappointing that a 2TB plan doesn’t get you a discount over a 1TB plan, at least more storage is an option. With Dropbox, it isn’t, unless you’re a business user (read our Dropbox Business review).    

Neither Dropbox or Google Drive top the list of best deals in cloud storage. However, in a head-to-head matchup, we think Google Drive delivers far more value thanks to free storage and price plan flexibility. 


Winner (Cost of Storage): Google Drive
Google Drive
Dropbox
2

File Sync

File synchronization lets you automatically copy files to your different devices, saving you from having to fiddle with thumb drives. That includes both new files and edited files, with transfers occurring, ideally, in near real-time.

Most cloud storage providers today follow the sync-folder model developed by Dropbox in 2008, including Google. However, as we’re about to see, the old dog is still plenty capable of learning new tricks.

Dropbox

As we said, Dropbox — Dropbox founder Drew Houston, in particular — invented the approach to file sync that’s commonly used today. Key to that approach is a special folder that gets added to your file system when you install the Dropbox desktop client.

This folder is called a sync folder, and any folder you drop in it gets sent off to the cloud, then onto other devices. The disadvantage of sync is that it requires that files be stored both on your hard drive and in the cloud to work, which doesn’t do you any good if you’re trying to free up disk space.

Dropbox addresses that issue with a feature called selective sync. You can manage selective sync from the “preferences” tool accessible via the Dropbox taskbar icon (on PC).

Using selective sync, you can turn sync off or on for specific folders contained within your Dropbox sync folder. If you turn it off, that folder and its contents will be removed from your hard drive and only stored in the cloud.

For Dropbox Plus users and most other cloud storage services, turning sync off means that you can no longer see that folder in your file system. However, Dropbox Professional subscribers gain access to a newer feature called “smart sync,” which lets folders remain visible in the sync folder even if sync is turned off.

Smart Sync works a bit like a network drive, and we like it. While that alone doesn’t justify spending $10 more for a Dropbox Professional account, the feature is one way that Dropbox has stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to file sync.  

Another way Dropbox shines with sync is its use of block-level file copying, which greatly improves sync speeds for file edits. Very few competitors use this method, choosing instead to upload and download the entire file all over again when a change is made.

Some of the few competitors to also use block-level transfers for sync include Amazon Drive and Egnyte Connect (read our Egnyte Connect review). Does Google Drive? Let’s find out.

Google Drive

Nope, it doesn’t. (We didn’t want to keep you in too much suspense.)

Google Drive takes the long approach when syncing files. That said, it still moves content pretty quickly thanks to multiple data centers around the world, which decreases both your computer’s distance to the cloud and server congestion at the same time.

No surprise, Google goes with the sync folder approach, adding a “Google Drive” folder to your file system when you install the desktop client (the client is called “Backup & Sync”).

Google Drive also provides a selective sync feature to help you free up hard drive space, which is accessible via the taskbar icon. As with Dropbox, you need to click on “preferences” to open tool that will let you turn sync off for specific folders.

While not actually a sync feature, we should also point out there’s another tab in this tool called “my laptop” that lets you pick folders anywhere in your hard drive to backup. Backup is different than sync in that its designed to protect files in case of a hard drive crash, and doesn’t distribute those files automatically to other devices.

Round Two Thoughts

While useful, the backup feature available through the Backup & Sync client is no substitute for a full-featured backup solution, like those in our best online backup guide.

Because of that, we’re not giving Google too much credit for including the option, and certainly not enough to counterbalance the kudos Dropbox earns for using block-level sync. Besides speed, Dropbox also provides some of the most reliable sync results of any cloud storage tool we’ve tested, including Google Drive.

That, along with lots of reader feedback on the subject of sync, is why we named Dropbox the best cloud storage for sync. It’s also why it takes round two with almost as much ease as Google Drive took round one.  


Winner (File Sync): Dropbox
Google Drive
Dropbox
3

File Sharing

With our contest knotted at two wins each, egg-shaped heads in Dropbox and Google headquarters are no doubt starting to sweat. Things are only bound to get more heated as we take on another vital cloud storage feature in file sharing.

Dropbox

Dropbox lets you share any file or folder directly from the sync folder by right-clicking on it and selecting “share.” You’ll be given the option to grant access to that file to specific people based on their email address, or you can create a link that can be copied and pasted in to Slack message boxes, social media platforms or wherever else you want.

The exact same sharing options are available through the Dropbox web GUI by clicking the “share” button associated with the object you want to allow access to.

Generating file-sharing links will let others preview your files via browser and download them. The method is pretty standard among cloud storage services, but Dropbox does have some nice extra features, so long as you’re willing to pay for them.

With a Dropbox Professional subscription, you can add link passwords, expiry dates and download limits.

We consider these generally essential features for content control, and, just like with Smart Sync, it’s a shame that they’re not included on the base subscription plan, Dropbox Plus. If these are features you don’t want to pay for, read our Sync.com review to learn about a cloud storage service that has the most secure approach to file sharing of any cloud storage service we’ve reviewed.

A limitation of file sharing with Dropbox is that when sharing just files, there’s no option to grant edit access, only view. To allow others to make file changes, you have to share a folder, in which case edit permissions can be enabled.

To ensure you don’t lose sight of what content is being shared, there’s a “sharing” tab in the web GUI that will help you conduct fast audits and delete links no longer needed. The same tab has sub-tabs to view folders and files shared with you.

Overall, sharing with Dropbox is pretty good, but incomplete unless you’re paying for Dropbox Professional. Let’s see if “pretty good” is enough to beat Google Drive.

Google Drive

Google Drive generally makes folder and file sharing easy, too, though we were unable to share directly from the desktop sync folder. In theory, Google launched that feature back in 2013, but the inability to actually use it has been a common bug issue ever since with no documented resolution we can find.  

For those unable to share from their sync folders, you’ll need to login into the Google Drive GUI to grant others access to your content. From there, just right-click on a folder or file and click “share” in the menu that opens.

You can permit file access to individuals based on email address, and grant them view, comment and edit access, which is an advantage over individual file sharing with Dropbox.

When sharing folders, you can also grant edit access, which lets others add files to a folder as well. The permissions levels could probably be a little more customizable, however.

Like Dropbox, if you prefer to share content less discriminately, you can generate folder and file links, instead. You can distribute the links manually or automatically upload them to Gmail, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Rather unsurprisingly, Google also has a “public” sharing option for links, which lets anybody on the internet find your documents and other files via Google search. Somewhat surprisingly, it’s off by default.

Google doesn’t have password protection for links, or let you set expiry dates or download limits. That’s a problem, especially since Google Drive also doesn’t have an easy way to audit shared content. There’s a “shared with me” view to see content you’ve been granted access to, but no corresponding way to check which files you’re sharing.

Round Three Thoughts

Both Dropbox and Google Drive make file sharing simple enough, both have some big issues, too, especially for two market leaders. For Dropbox, the biggest problem we have is that you have to pay $20 a month to gain access to link passwords and expiry dates. For Google Drive, it’s that those features aren’t offered at all.

For those that need secure file sharing and don’t want to pay through the nose for it, Sync.com and pCloud are both better choices. However, since this isn’t a tag-team match, we’re going with Dropbox, even though the edge is slight and requires more money from you.


Winner (File Sharing): Dropbox
Google Drive
Dropbox
4

Productivity Tools

Productivity tools that integrate with cloud storage enable businesses, freelancers, students and the like to create and edit content directly from the browser, often at no cost. These tools, combined with the file-sharing features we just mentioned, also facilitate collaborations.

Such tools are one of the biggest separators between more basic services like MEGA (read our MEGA review) and the big names in cloud storage, including Dropbox and Google Drive. However, when it comes to pure productivity power, one of the two greatly outshines the other.

Dropbox

Dropbox doesn’t have much in the way of native productivity apps, but in 2017 the company did launch a document editor called Paper. At first glance, Paper seems pretty basic, with little value beyond taking meeting or class notes (and our best note-taking apps do a better job, it has to be said). However, it actually has some nice collaboration features.

Those features include the ability to cocreate documents, add comments, tag individuals, assign tasks and view revisions. It also supports embedded third-party objects like spreadsheets, Spotify playlists and YouTube videos. Paper integrates with Slack, too, which is one of the reasons Dropbox ranks among the best cloud storage for Slack.

The problem with Paper is that it doesn’t have great formatting options, which makes it feel like an ultralight version of Office Online or Google Docs. We’d at least appreciate the ability to add a fixed formatting bar.

For those with bigger needs, Dropbox does integrate with both Office Online and Office 365. Office Online is free and gives you access to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

For files you’ve shared, you can work remotely and in near real-time with others.

Office 365, meanwhile, costs money. Given that and Office 365 subscription also comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage, you may want to consider switching to that platform over Dropbox if Microsoft Office is your jam. Check out our OneDrive vs Dropbox article for advice there.

The integrated apps experience on the whole is good with Dropbox, with some nice free options for getting things done. Google Drive, however, just has more.

Google Drive

Central to Google Drive’s value as a productivity tool is Google Docs, an office suite with a word processor (also called Google Docs), a spreadsheet application (Google Sheets) and a presentation builder (Google Slides).

If you’ve used Microsoft Office or pretty much any other word processor, the Google Docs suite should feel familiar right away thanks to convenient formatting toolbars along the top.

Shared Google Docs can be commented on, edited or marked up with suggested changes. You can tag others by email address so they’ll receive notifications of comments and tasks aimed at them.

While Google Docs doesn’t have a desktop version, you can edit documents in your browser without an internet connection so long as offline access is turned on. Overall, the entire experience provides clean, relatively distraction-free document creation.

Google has a few other native apps that integrate with its cloud storage platform, including Google Forms, which lets you create surveys and the like, Google Drawings for diagram creation and Google Sites, a website builder. Google Keep, a great cloud notes app, was also integrated with Google Docs in 2017.

The suite of native apps that integrate with Google Drive is more impressive than what you get with Dropbox, even taking into account its Office Online integration.

For one, Google Drive actually has a Microsoft Office plugin, though it only works with Office 365 and not Office Online. There’s also an “Office compatibility mode” that lets you edit Office documents using Google Docs.

On top of that, Google Drive has something Dropbox doesn’t: a massive third-party app library. You can search for third-party apps directly through Google Drive and integrate them with a couple of mouse clicks. Even better, most of those apps are free.

Among the options are .pdf editors like DocHub, photo editors like PicMonkey and video editors like WeVideo. We also like CloudConvert for bulk file-type conversions. Google hasn’t released any information on how many third-party apps are available and there are too many to count, but it’s safe to say the number is in the hundreds.

Round Four Thoughts

Round four lands in Google Drive’s favor with relative ease. That’s not to say that Dropbox is terrible when it comes to productivity tools, since it beats out pCloud, Sync.com, MEGA and just about every other personal cloud storage tool out there. It’s just that Google Drive is so much better, with a broad range of free native and third-party tools.

That’s one of the reasons we still recommend using Google Drive, despite some big privacy concerns we have with the service, which we’ll be addressing in our final round.


Winner (Productivity Tools): Google Drive
Google Drive
Dropbox
5

Security and Privacy

As mentioned in the introduction, security and privacy aren’t strong areas for either Dropbox or Google Drive. In part, that’s because both are based in the U.S., where privacy laws are a bit looser than in some countries.

That wouldn’t be a problem if either service offered zero-knowledge encryption, which would block both the host and U.S. government from decrypting your files. Instead, both insist on hanging onto your encryption key for you. We’ll offer up a solution to that issue, however, after we take a closer look at the security profiles of both cloud storage services.

Dropbox

Some people still avoid Dropbox due to a 2012 breach that saw some 68 million user passwords stolen following the theft of an employee password. Dropbox has since revamped its password hashing algorithms and supposedly tightened internal security, but the fact that the company didn’t fully report the problem until years later doesn’t engender much trust.

Privacy advocates also weren’t too impressed with Dropbox’s 2014 decision to add Condoleezza Rice to its board of directors, who as Secretary of State under George W. Bush advocated for warrantless wiretapping and oversaw a post-9/11 online surveillance program called Stellar Wind.   

Then there’s PRISM, the NSA program that collected consumer data from multiple cloud services in order to hunt terrorists. While there’s never been hard proof that Dropbox was involved, it appears that the company was on the verge of being roped into the project when Edward Snowden blew the whistle on it all.

Snowden, for his part, has previously called Dropbox hostile to privacy, suggesting that users consider SpiderOak ONE, instead (read our SpiderOak ONE review).

Dropbox does at least encrypt files both in transit and at rest on its servers, using the AES protocol. However, a few words of warning: that encryption isn’t end-to-end. Upon arrival at the Dropbox data center, files are decrypted to extract metadata. File content is re-encrypted using 256-bit AES, but your metadata is left in plain text for indexing. That helps with file access speed, but decreases security.

Aside from revamping internal security and password-protection algorithms following the 2012 incident, Dropbox also launched a much-needed two-factor authentication (2FA) feature.

2FA protects you against lost or stolen passwords by requiring entry of a special code when logging into your account from an unfamiliar machine. This code gets sent to your mobile phone, so unless that gets stolen along with your password, your files should be safe.

Google Drive

Unlike Dropbox, Google Drive was unquestionably (allegedly) tied to PRISM. In fact, the history of Google itself is very much intertwined with the NSA.

The upside of PRISM was that Google started encrypting files in 2013 to insure critics of its interest in protecting consumer privacy. However, like Dropbox, Google still insists on managing your file encryption keys.

Not only does doing so allow Google to comply with law enforcement requests, it lets the company decrypt and scan your files to see what kind of content you’re uploading. While this is in part to root out child pornography, it’s also used to detect copyrighted content.  

Google scans can also be used to gather data about you, which can later be used to feed targeted-marketing algorithms. While we don’t have any concrete proof of synced files being used to trigger ads, Google gives itself permission to do so in its terms of service:

“Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

While many of its privacy practices are questionable, Google does have some of the most secure data centers of any cloud provider. Sure, all of those biometric identification and laser-based intrusion detection systems are more about protecting Google’s own valuable stores of digital data than your selfies, but that should only improve confidence.  

Google also supports two-factor authentication to guard against misappropriated passwords, which we suggest using. It’ll help keep your Gmail and search history safe, too, at least from most of those outside of Google’s marketing department.

Round Five Thoughts

Neither Dropbox or Google Drive earn high marks when it comes to security, and that’s mostly because both companies retain control of your encryption keys. If that irks you, you could jump ship to one of the recommendations in our best zero-knowledge cloud storage list. However, if you’re committed to sticking with Dropbox or Google Drive, there’s another option: encrypt your files yourself.

One of the easiest ways to do that is with Boxcryptor, an end-to-end encryption tool that’s compatible with both Dropbox and Google Drive, not to mention about twenty other cloud services. While there are a few downsides to using Boxcryptor, which we mention in our Boxcryptor review, overall it’s a great way to make sure your files stay private.

Boxcryptor aside, we need a winner. While Dropbox has its own history of letdowns, unlike Google Drive, its ties to the NSA are a bit more murky. Also, it doesn’t seem Dropbox cares much for using your file content for marketing based on its privacy terms. Round five goes to the lesser of two evils.


Winner (Security and Privacy): Dropbox
Google Drive
Dropbox
6

Final Verdict

Three wins to two, Dropbox comes out on top over Google Drive. Funny, though, that it doesn’t seem like a win.

When it comes down to it, there’s only one thing that Dropbox absolutely does better than any other service, and that’s sync. Google Drive meanwhile, gives you 15GB of free storage along with free use of Google Docs and hundreds of other integratable apps, including email.

On top of that, the features that gave Dropbox the round victory for file sharing require an expensive Dropbox Professional subscription. Plus, as we “kind of” suggested, neither Dropbox or Google Drive will be winning Nobel Prizes for their approach to privacy anytime soon.

What we’re trying to say here, is that the long answer to the question of Google Drive or Dropbox is pretty much the same as the short answer: it depends.

We’re giving Dropbox the win based on round count, but barely. It’s a good service and deserves recognition, but for those less than impressed, our Dropbox alternatives article might be worth a read.   

Have your own take on the Dropbox vs Google Drive decision? Of course you do. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, and thanks for reading.


Overall winner: Dropbox

65 thoughts on “Dropbox vs Google Drive: the Battle of the Titans”

  1. Interesting article.
    But if you do real speed test you should also test it with 5000 files of a few kb. Then you’ll see that dropbox is alot faster then it’s competitors (not that I’m a fanboy). Then you see that onedrive completely stops working. Drive works ‘good’ . Copy works bit better (but lacks knowing when small changes are done)..
    But overall dropbox beats them hard.

    Also when working with alot of small files, I’ve found that it takes long time before copy or onedrive notices that something small has changed.

    Dropbox (and drive on second place) notice this alot faster.

    You should do some testing on that.

  2. Evaluating performance on file sync through the agent can also be trivial and depends upon user’s needs: for example I would not want my file sync application to eat up all my bandwidth to upload large amount of data I put in the sync folder but I’d appreciate to upload them while leaving my link operational and, since these applications do not seem to have bandwidth throttling feature, I prefer the second approach (but it’s just my taste, other might prefer raw horsepower..)

  3. I believe that the free version of Excel for iPad works better with Dropbox. I can’t get the Google Drive to activate, despite the on/off ‘button’. Dropbox is basically automatically there.
    I can open and edit files in Excel from Dropbox. Can’t do that with Google Drive. Before today, and trying this, I was strictly using Google Drive. Now I think I’ll be using Dropbox, at least for spreadsheets….

  4. Upload to Dropbox via website is super easy… Drag file to the window it goes straight into whatever folder is showing… Or drag it to a folder and it goes there instead…

  5. Also, just tried it… you can right-click on any blank portion of the window (white areas to the side or above is fine) and select upload from the contextual menu…

    Use the website view like you would any Explorer Window or if you’re using a Mac Finder window… and it works exactly the same way….

    To me.. that’s much easier than an upload button.

  6. This article need a review as there are more features added to Google drive now. e.g. You can now upload a folder which automatically organises the files with same subfolder structure

  7. What is theexpected single image / file max size limit ?

    I have 4gb image I need to upload it . Which engine support and what is the limit ?

  8. What about CPU usage? Dropbox seems to be a huge CPU sucker in our small office. Anyone else notice this or have comparison with Google Drive?

    1. We had the same problem in our office here in Japan. We wound up dropping our Dropbox subscriptions and migrating everything over to Google Drive. From my personal experience working with the two Google Drive has been significantly faster and more reliable than Dropbox, but after reading other reviews I think it has more to do with your personal location and internet infrastructure than anything else.

  9. Fantastic, thorough and unbiased review. Thank you! It was immensely helpful for me.

    You mentioned bandwidth clogging problems with Google Drive. I had the same problem. In my case, I have a router with solid QoS management, so I simply prioritized VoIP, Web Surfing and Streaming Video over File Transfer. Google Drive sync was still very speedy, but I no longer had any problems with bandwidth hogging.

    I didn’t even bother trying with Google Drive’s bandwidth management settings. For me, the router QoS solved the problem completely.

    Cheers!
    Aaron

  10. While very interesting, I’m surprised the issue of sharing subfolders is not addressed as it is a critical flaw with Drop Box. With DropBox it is not possible to assign a subfolder to a different individual than the parent folder. So for example, if I have a folder for Suppliers and it is shared amongst everyone in the company and within it I have Company X and Company Y. I don’t want X to see the information from Y but I’m forced to make the parent folder open to all who have access below. The only work around is to make all the company folders parent folders but the result would be a very large main directory with no real organization. My understanding is that this is not an issue with Google Drive. This is a very big problem for our firm and from what I read it is a big problem for many others.

  11. We do heavy video production, of the two : Dropbox hands down most reliable

    Our frustration with Google Drive: #1. We actually met a size limitation after hours of transferring video, we met a Cap.

    #2. You cannot transfer ownership of Any Videos, the only thing transferrable are documents in word and excel. And that is it.

    So Google Drive actually sucks if you are in video production, its unreliable because it does not have the storage capabilities, and there are no options to transfer video ownership, we searched the internet through and through. Because of this, we are spending hours downloading, its a pain in the ass.

    That should sum up your study with full accuracy.

  12. I prefer dropbox because it has a linux desktop client, ant not Google drive. Also when many people download a file from your account when you share, Google drive says that you need to try later, while dropbox has not such an issue when you share.

  13. Isn’t this a bit of comparing apples and oranges? Google Drive doesn’t actually store files on resident computers, but rather keeps everything in the cloud, right? Dropbox stores files on resident computers and in the cloud, and updates changes to the files, right?

    1. No, both services work in a similar way. They can both store files on computers and sync them across your devices. You can, however, activate selective sync, so that only some folders are copied locally to your system.

      1. Errr, not 100% correct. Any documents, spreadsheets, and presentations created in Google’s formats with Google Docs are only on Google Drive on the web. What appear to be local copies are only links to the online files, as Google’s native formats cannot live outside Google Drive. Any other formats do have local copies. I would love to use Google Docs, but will not because the only copy is on Google Drive, not the local folder.

        1. Not really. You can use Google docs offline, keep your filed local. You only need to activate offline mode. Google the procedure. Regards.

          1. Yes Edu, you are right, and I stand corrected. However, I have to say that I have found the offline mode a bit unreliable sometimes. When it does work it’s certainly great to have. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  14. This is exactly what I found out in the past 3 days.

    My brother recommended that I should switch to Gdrive so that I will only have to use one account to sign in to all my services, on computer and on my Android phone.

    I went through the trouble of uploading everything (4GB of pictures, music and personal docs) to Gdrive. Then I set up all the syncs on my Android phone using Drivesync, all was good, but then;

    1. File ownership issues, pictures/videos shared between me and my wife, if my wife added those pictures/videos and I deleted those, they would stay on in my wife’s Gdrive but just not show anymore (taking the space).
    2. Gdrive crashed on my local computer quite a few times when I was using a program that creates/updates a dozen files simultaneously to create simulation (Dropbox never crashed in the past 4 years of use).
    3. Too easy to delete/move something from Gdrive web interface, there are no prompts for the deletion, only a message to undo.
    4. Very very slow sync speeds, it took about 90 minutes to upload the 4GB of data to Gdrive on my connection, took 5 minutes to re-upload the same data back to Dropbox (I know dropbox keeps file history and restores from hashes, that helps a lot.
    5. Gdrive needs to reupload everything again, everytime, even the same files, with Dropbox if you are uploading a file that is the same, or with some changes, it will check if it ever had the same file before, if yes then it won’t need to reupload, it will use the file from it’s history.

    1. Exact same comment as above, but on a larger scale. After testing on 2 or 3 gigs for about a week, I moved 330GB of company and personal data over to Drive expecting Google to deliver . Took *5 days* to upload. Sync randomly doesn’t work, or will delete files from one location on it’s own and (hopefully) leave a copy somewhere else. Zero trust in their system. I now need to reconcile 330GB / 50,000 files in three different locations and get it all back onto Dropbox (was with them 3 years or so, no problems, excellent speed/reliability). Dealt with Google support and they were no help. Just said to disconnect Drive desktop client, make a new local folder, sign in to desktop client and download everything from the online Drive (they confirmed that it would probably take the same time as when I uploaded – 5 days or “maybe a little faster”), hope I didn’t lose anything, and deal with the duplicate files. Horrible.

  15. Good review,

    To summarize, read Waqas Tariq’s comments…spot on.

    I tried onedrive, dropbox and google drive. hands down winner is Dropbox.
    Google Drive was a nightmare as described by Waqas Tariq and other than Windows and Office I try to stay away from anything Microsoft.

  16. Dropbox is £79 per year for 1TB.
    I can easily buy a hard drive for less and use a ‘PC anywhere’ type software to access my files wherever there is internet, plus I still have it all in a ‘safe’ place, at home or office.

    1. Beware Mike, I thought the same till early this month the cleaning lady at our office dropped my external drive: Headcrash, everything lost. I’m moving to the cloud now…

      1. you’re absolutely right, that was just what i was thinking, at least one copy of the data needs to reside somewhere away from the home or office at a fast and secure external location, away from accidental or natural disasters.

    2. …I agree with that, that is a better idea. From all of what i am hearing on here, it seem this is a far better idea. But one thing though, unless and even if we invest in a top-notch drive it would be better to also store files elsewhere perhaps on one of the clouds – what if the drive fails one day unless of course you have striped RAID disks on the pc

  17. Dropbox is great but my free 5 GB is nearly full. And I’m cheap, so not keen on paying for more when I could go get Google Drive’s 15 free GB. But now it’s well into the second day after setting up Drive’s initial sync and Drive hasn’t even hit the halfway point on the 8,000 or so files I’d like to sync. Looks like time to pony up for Dropbox Pro.

  18. What about the ease of sharing files? Sending links of files to people?
    When you send a link using drive, does the receiving end need a google account to be able to open it?

  19. The size limitation is a problem for me with Dropbox and although I really love dropbox, Dive may be the better candidate for me personally.

    I haven’t had the issues people talk about but I do think the desktop software for dropbox is better and the syncing on desktop is better, but I prefer the mobile version of Drive especially on android devices.

  20. I have dropbox pro because I like it so much. However, I agree that the app for dropbox is less than ideal.

  21. When I upload an excel file in google drive, it automatically converts it to its own format. Say the original excel file was heavy with conditional formatting (icons etc), you wouldn’t really see it any longer when its uploaded.

    If I share this particular file to my co-worker and he/she downloads it in his computer, will the original excel file with all its formatting be back again?

    That’s my concern, if the files are preserved.

    1. Your initial premise is untrue. GDrive creates a copy of a file in its own format when you tell it to open the file in its own suite. Not upon upload. As long as you just use the simple viewer, or just edit files locally, that will never happen.

      But even if it does, it keeps the original. So retrieving that is easy.

  22. GDrive is absolutely NOT reliable. Sync frequently and randomy gets stuck for interminable periods on different machines even after fresh install. i don’t know whether dropbox is better.

  23. Decent analysis, although there should be an entire section dedicated to PHOTOS.

    Many people use Dropbox or GDrive primarily for photo storage.

    In this regard, I find GDrive to be vastly superior, and is pushing me to give dropbox the boot soon, at least for all my photo storage.

  24. File ownership issues, pictures/videos shared between me and my wife, if my wife added those pictures/videos and I deleted those, they would stay on in my wife’s Gdrive but just not show anymore (taking the space).

    The same happened to me. It took me a while to find out why my drive was full.

  25. I find DropBox to be a very good solution for storing and sharing files in my 4 person company.
    Only one thing is a big problem, and DropBox doesn’t seem to deal with it despite numerous of complains:
    Most of our data are shared among all company employees. Sometime we need to share a subdirectory with a customer, and this is simply not possible.
    https://www.dropboxforum.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/201547115-Can-I-share-sub-folders-independent-of-shared-parent-folder-

  26. …but what is the “cloud” ? the cloud is a fancy name for a set of computers/file servers in some data centre.

  27. dropbox should offer more paid plans. i have a 200 gb plan with gdrive, but only use it for the more/less static files. the dynamic files i change every day are in dropbox. But dropbox is too expensive for 100 Gb compared too google. But i am willing to spent 50 USD per year on a good dropbox 100gb plan as well, a bit more expensive then google, but faster and more manageable.

  28. GDrive took up my whole day!
    Was trying to upload ~2GB of files. After deleting some files (copied them into a RAR), Sync just got confused. I ended up with one folder moving where it shouldn’t be (beside its parent) and other folders simply not containing all the files. Luckily, the files are still on the web version.
    DO NOT USE GOOGLE DRIVE . I won’t, until Google comes clean and says “WE HAVE HAD A SHITTY PRODUCT WE KNOW AND WE’RE SORRY, BUT NOW WE HAVE FIXED IT”. Will not recommend this shitty non-functioning product to anyone!

  29. I want to move my small consultancy to Google Suite for the cheap tools and high level of integration it offers with everything. However, after trying to move 6 GB of files to Google Drive, it still hadn’t uploaded the whole 6 GB from hard disk after a whole weekend. Dropbox does the task in 15 minutes or so.

    So, I am designing a solution where the main storage/backup tool is Dropbox and only active files are on Google Drive. IFTTT can be used to move new files up to Google Drive from Dropbox.

  30. Great article. I always used Google Drive because of the huge space it gave me, but I noticed that syncing is quite slow. I recently installed Dropbox and it was noticeably quicker.

    I find that if I use KeePass and I re-save my database too quickly (i.e., before my first “save” syncs with Drive), it’ll mess up my database and I’ll have to bring it back using the backup file. It doesn’t happen with Dropbox because it syncs fast.

  31. Photos uploaded to dropbox via smartphone then downloaded to PC are zipped and compressed. A 3.4MB photo becomes 1.7MB. This is a deal killer for me unless I’m missing something.

  32. I have both Dropbox and Google Drive on my computer, I find Dropbox faster than GDrive on sync and upload etc however Dropbox (compared to GDrive) slows my computer speed big time when it is syncing or indexing to the point I have to to pause the sync or index so I can get on with other urgent matters.
    Anybody out there with some advise on this??

  33. I use cloud storage for photos and home videos only.

    Switched from Dropbox to Google Drive because of the better app Google Photo in this regard.

    Loading a photo or a video is more seemless for me with the google app.

    We’ll see about the sync speed if it’s an issue.

    As with dropbox ios app to upload my “camera roll”, it always seemed to stop and time out so It felt like the background uploading was not working properly. So far with google photos, It does not feel like this is a problem.

  34. I’m with Jason. I have both in computer and phone and G drive lacks on syncing. My business partner and I are always having issues with it. When one creates a file in G drive, the other can’t see it right away, or even hours later. If she works on a file and closes it, then I go to the file and it keeps telling me that she’s still there. The solution? She has to turn her computer off so G drive “sees” that she’s not in that file. It’s a nightmare.

  35. Your research feels incredibly biased. Your initial assertions about Dropbox are ridiculous:

    Many consumer complaints – 500+ Million users… what data do you have that shows a higher percentage of user complaints in any way versus Google?

    Terrible rating with BBB – BBB has Dropbox as an A rating… How exactly is this terrible? What is Google Drive’s rating?

    Customer service needs improvement – Granted and happening.

    Concerns about security – What concerns? Dropbox Security is industry leading. There has never been a successful breach of user data. The usernames and passwords were an event, but the passwords were hashed and not meaningful.

    Minor privacy policy concerns (tracking) – Compared to Google, who can mine your data and use it for marketing? Really?

    Based in the U.S. – With data centers around the globe… How is being US based a negative? Google is not?

    “Hostile to privacy“ – This one could not be further from the truth. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published its latest “Who Has Your Back” (WHYB) report. once again, Dropbox is one of the few companies that received a perfect score.

    1. Hi Michael, I suggest that you’ll find precise answers to your questions in our Dropbox review, which is linked at the top of the article. In the interest of helpfulness, however, I’ll go through all your points quickly:
      – Consumer complaints: the web is full of them, but we also used data from the BBB
      – BBB gave Dropbox an F, then put it at unrated, then suddenly raised it to an A, saying the service was working on its problems. We here at CW find this extremely suspicious, though if it proves that consumers are indeed happy with DB we’ll remove both these claims (this will take time)
      – Security: Dropbox is in no way a leader in security and those passwords were not hashed. Though Dropbox has claimed many things concerning their many, many breaches, we have preferred to refer to the work of independent journalists rather than Dropbox press releases
      – Privacy concerns: Dropbox has made clear that they have no issue working with law enforcement and they also leave metadata in plain sight in plain text for all and sundry to see.
      – Based in the US: between spying by the NSA and ISPs, being based in the U.S. is not a good thing
      – Hostile to privacy is a quote from Edward Snowden from an interview he gave with John Oliver

      I hope this answers your concerns and questions, thank you.

  36. Have been using Dropbox for last many years without a single complaint. Tried GD also but due to sync problems, abandoned it forever. Dropbox can be used with third party applications super easily. However, to store photographs, I use Google photos.

  37. Nice and useful article. Thank you. However there is one small deal breaker about google drive. When working on documents that require constant saving, Google Drive locks your files for syncing making it impossible for you to actually save twice in an interval of 20-30 seconds and forcing you to create a indexed version of that file. So for example if I have to make quick reviews on illustrator, ae, photoshop files I get a plethora of locked files and broken links that just make it impossible to work with an active google drive sync on my computer. With Dropbox that does not happen.

  38. lol. this is one of the worst, most biased publications i’ve ever seen online. do you realize, you literally gave GOOGLE, Skynet itself, the win on PRIVACY? Are you … insane? lmao. an entire company built on the concept that no one has any privacy over anything they do, anywhere, anytime, who invented monetizing the internet and data tracking, who started taking pictures of the earth and everyone’s houses in violation of federal laws until they were too big to be policed, who spied on the white house itself … that’s your gold standard for privacy? reviews like this of google products show out vastly out of touch most users are with the actual needs and stresses of small business owners everywhere. i’ll definitely never use this garbage site again.

    1. Hi Jack, though normally I don’t reply to rants like yours, in this case I will as it’s based on a few incorrect assumptions that I worry other people may share. For one, we make very clear in the relevant section that Google does, in fact, spy on you and uses your data in targeting ads (though it should be noted that they’ve turned down this practice a bit lately). The thing is,though, that you’re in no way forced to use Google and they are up front about it. The whole “Skynet” thing falls apart when seen in that light, though it wasn’t very sturdy to begin with as you’re alluding to an AI from a science fiction franchise rather than a search engine. Secondly, the relevant section is named “security and privacy,” the reason we gave the round to Google in this case is because of the many, many security breaches Dropbox has fallen prey to and not always told people about. Last of all, let me thank you for directing my attention to this article as I see it could badly use an update, so I will slate it for one shortly. Have a great day and don’t bust a vein when replying to this message. Kind regards, Fergus O’Sullivan, chief editor.

  39. Hi! Any tests or comments on using DD, DB, or OD for storing .xls, .PDF, and zip files so that crowdfunding donors can access digital rewards and funded campaign projects that are not pictures, audio, or video?

    Most of if not all of the major crowdfunding sites seem to be self-embargoing spreadsheets, PDFs, and zip files as creator content, and not even allowing creators to host those file types, as if incentivized to steer people to the cloud.

    I realize they don’t want to become repositories with all the attendant headaches. But, disallowing spreadsheets, how-to PDFs, and zip files seems a bit obvious to be suspicious of. After all, almost all of those sites claim to be out to help creators. Other all creators are painters (digital or brush) fanzine artists using supported formats, or musicians.

    Anyway, it seems I will have to use Dropbox or Google Drive or GDrive (since I need to separate business from personal, for tax and business continuity reasons.

    My recipients likely won’t be reading and sharing the files — just downloading them via a shared or donor-specific link.

    I will not give them editing privileges at the server leave (they can download and edit the spreadsheet and keep it to are among themselves and not be able to re-upload it back to my drive), but I want public visitors limited other unpaid content, and I want donors/sponsors to get paid-for content, and also to be further isolated based on perks or rewards levels they are supporting.

    Anyone have any suggestions about making hackneyed granular file download permissions based on Public vs Patron,and based on pledge levels? Will I need to just make folders marked as such and simply assign the appropriate access link?

    I’m a Google user, having Gmail, Google Plus, and Hangouts, but not much else.

    1. Try uploading a .HTML file and then downloading it again.
      See what you get.
      I don’t recommend Google Drive as a repository.

  40. As for this part,

    “Also, even if you give editing access through a folder, a user can only edit a document after they have signed into Dropbox, so, if you want to collaborate with someone who doesn’t have a Dropbox account, they’ll be forced to sign up. Though I have to say,  I love how Dropbox clearly showcases all shared folders, files, and links.”

    I’m right now reading a Dropbox welcome PDF that says share recipients can download or view a file without needing a Dropbox account. They just need the link. This is in the “Send large files” topic in section 3 of the welcome PDF.

    But/and, in section 4, named “Work on files together”, it says “Enter then email address of the people you want to invite.”

    There then are two options:

    “Can edit: People can edit, delete, and add the following to their Dropbox

    Can view: People can view and download the files, but can’t edit them”

    To me, “their Dropbox” means an edit-allowed file seeker must have a Dropbox account.”

    So, even in 2018, it probably is as you wrote back I’m 2015.
    Perhaps in Dropbox Plus or Dropbox Business, file seekers or invitees still need accounts?

  41. This article could use an updating especially regarding Google Drive’s Team Drives, as it will cause Google to take a hit in some of the ratings. The problem is that sharing controls and productivity operations are not consistent across docs stored in My Drive and Team Drive. For some inexplicable reason, Team Drive causes Docs and Sheets to not allow you to email a doc as an attachment from within those programs, but if you move the same doc to My Drive that function is now available. Additionally, sharing in Team Drive is hobbled; you can set up sharing at the overall drive level, and on individual docs, but folders lose their individual sharing controls. Team Drives are a nice alternative to spaghetti sharing across multiple users in an organisation, or creating a dummy user to centralise resources to share, but these small impediments have really hampered our workflows and productivity. In the age of GDPR, having central storage with fine-grained sharing controls that you can search is a real boon, but Google has really messed this up from a productivity perspective.

  42. Very biased comparison not taking into account Dropbox’ stupid traffic limitations and frequent crashes/denial of service

    1. We did take it into account: you can turn of the bandwidth throttle under Dropbox’s settings (they’re there for your convenience, not Dropbox’s) and during our many, many tests we had no problems with crashes. Maybe your connection is unstable?

  43. I have been looking into Google Drive as a repository for dev files such as .js, .html, .java etc.
    Interestingly, did you know that Google transforms your .html file into a .docx file?
    So when you download it you don’t get it back as a .html file?
    This means it is a bit of a rubbish repository for development.

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