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Dropbox vs Google Drive

Dropbox vs Google Drive: Cloud Storage Competition on Pricing, Security & Features

Dropbox and Google Drive are some of the most used cloud storage providers. This Dropbox vs Google Drive comparison will look at their features, pricing, security and privacy to help you make an informed decision. 

Titus KamunyaAleksander HougenIgor Kurtz

Written by Titus Kamunya (Writer)

Reviewed by Aleksander Hougen (Co-Chief Editor)

Facts checked by Igor Kurtz (Fact-checking editor)

Last Updated: 2024-04-21T14:59:03+00:00

All our content is written fully by humans; we do not publish AI writing. Learn more here.

4.15
4.2
  • Office 365 & Google Workspace integration
  • Smart storage usage with “Smart Sync”
  • Block-level transfer
  • G Suite integration
  • Plenty of third-party apps
  • Excellent for collaboration
$9.99 / month(save 16%)(All Plans)
$1.67 / month(save 16%)(All Plans)
Key Takeaways: Dropbox vs Google Drive
  • The main difference between Google Drive and Dropbox is their ecosystems. Google Drive is part of the larger Google ecosystem and integrates seamlessly with other Google apps. Dropbox is a standalone app that comes with a more limited set of add-ons for different purposes. 
  • Dropbox might be better than Google Drive if you need faster file syncing for large files. Dropbox uses block-level sync to upload only the parts of a file that have been updated. 
  • Google Drive is better than Dropbox for people on a budget. Google Drive provides 15GB of storage on its free plan compared to Dropbox’s 2GB

Facts & Expert Analysis About Google Drive and Dropbox

  • History: Dropbox is among the oldest cloud storage platforms, having been launched in 2008. Though it was launched two years after Amazon S3, Dropbox revolutionized cloud storage by focusing on personal cloud services and file synchronization. 
  • Ease of use: In our experience, Google Drive is easier to use than Dropbox. Anyone with a Google account automatically gets 15GB of free storage on Google Drive. 
  • Popularity with creatives: More than half of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival’s films used Dropbox. Directors used tools like Replay and Dropbox Sign.1
2TB – 5TB$9.99 / month
(save 16%) (All Plans)

Both Dropbox and Google Drive allow file storage and sharing, and let you collaborate. They are among the best cloud storage services on the market. Dropbox may have popularized the idea of cloud storage, but Google — one of the biggest tech companies in the world — is behind Google Drive. This Dropbox vs Google Drive comparison will dive deep into their features and pricing. 

Should you pick Dropbox, a cloud storage solution with fast sync for large files, or use Google Drive, which integrates with other Google apps and third-party apps? We will help you make an informed decision based on our unbiased comparison. 

Our Comparison Guidelines

We have compared and reviewed dozens of cloud services in a wide range of articles, and Dropbox and Google Drive are two of the cloud platforms we have covered most extensively. We have in-depth reviews of each service; you can find them in our Dropbox review and Google Drive review articles. 

Our comparison articles explore features like file sharing and sync, pricing, privacy and security. We test the products as we compare them, and you can rest assured that you will receive unbiased reviews and comparisons. You can also check out our guides How Google Drive Works and What is Dropbox? before diving deeper into this comparison. 

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Cloudwards Editor’s Choice: Dropbox

In our opinion, Dropbox comes out on top in this Google Drive vs Dropbox comparison article. We love how Dropbox syncs files quickly through its smart sync feature. We also like that you can set link passwords and expiry dates on the paid plans as you share files. In addition, the availability of hundreds of third-party apps in its app center means that you can work with your favorite apps. 

However, we find Dropbox’s 2GB storage on its free plan to be limiting, but it’s a good way to get a feel for the service. We also don’t love that Dropbox shares data with third parties, but Google Drive is arguably even worse in this respect.

2TB – 5TB$9.99 / month
(save 16%) (All Plans)

Google Drive vs Dropbox: Review at a Glance

2TB - 5TB$9.99 / month(All Plans)100GB - 30TB$1.67 / month(All Plans)
ReviewReview
Sync
Sync Folder
Block-Level Sync
Selective Sync
Bandwidth management
Sync Any Folder
File Sharing
File Link Sharing
Link Passwords
Link Expiry Dates
Folder Sharing
Folder Permissions
Link Download Limits
Upload Links
Productivity
File Previews
Edit Files
In-App Collaboration
Office Online
Google Docs
Notes App
Media Playback
Mobile Apps
Deleted File Retention
Versioning
WebDAV
Security
At-Rest Encryption
In-Transit Encryption
Encryption ProtocolAES 256-bit
Zero Knowledge
Two-Factor Authentication
Server LocationUSUS
Support
24/7 Support
Live Chat Support
Telephone Support
Email Support
User Forum
Knowledgebase
Misc
Free Plan
]

Which Is Better: Dropbox vs Google Drive?

Dropbox wins for its fast sync, integration with third-party apps and link-sharing security. On the other hand, Google Drive wins for its ease of use, generous free plans and advanced file-searching capabilities. The two seem to tie in terms of security and privacy, as they implement similar security features and encryption protocols. 

Who Is Dropbox For?

  • Creatives: You can collaborate on image, video and audio files using Dropbox Replay.
  • Organizations: Dropbox allows users to set link passwords and expiration dates to protect data from falling into the wrong hands.
  • Developers: Dropbox has developer tools and APIs that you can integrate with your apps to take advantage of its cloud storage services.

Who Is Google Drive For?

  • Office admins: Google Drive gives you access to collaboration tools like Slides and Docs. You can also access communication tools like Gmail and Meet when you upgrade to Google Workspace (formerly known as Google Suite or GSuite).
  • Those looking for a generous free plan: You get 15GB of storage on Google Drive’s free plan and access to many Google apps and third-party integrations.
  • Individuals: Google Drive has various personal plans under Google One, with storage space starting from 100GB and going all the way up to 30TB.

Dropbox vs Google Drive Pricing & Free Plan Comparison

Dropbox has four major pricing categories: personal use, professionals, teams and businesses. Users who want more storage on Google can subscribe to paid plans on Google One (personal use) or Google Workspace (business use).

Storage SizeDropboxGoogle Drive
Free storage2GB15GB
100GB$1.99 per month, billed monthly
2TB$11.99 per month, billed monthly$9.99 per month, billed monthly
Free Plans

Dropbox and Google Drive both offer free plans. Dropbox provides 2GB of storage on the Basic (free) plan, while Google Drive provides 15GB for free. Both platforms offer a 30-day file version history on their free plans. However, the Basic plan on Dropbox does not have advanced sharing features, whereas Google Drive doesn’t limit any features on its free plan. 

Personal Plans

All of Google Drive’s paid personal plans are under Google One. Basic is the cheapest plan, at $1.99 per month for 100GB of storage. The next plan is Premium, at $9.99 per year for 2TB of storage. AI Premium is the last package, at $19.99 per month for 2TB. AI Premium includes advanced Gemini, which Docs and Gmail also use.

15GB
  • Free plan
  • 15GB
Standard 200GB
  • *The plan is “hidden.” To find the 200GB plan, you need to be subscribed to one of the other plans, upgrade or downgrade to the 200GB through your account’s settings.
  • 200GB
More plans

On Dropbox, the Plus plan is the cheapest, at $11.99 per month for 2TB of storage. The Essentials plan, available for a single user, costs $19.99 per month, offers 3TB of storage and allows 180 days to restore files.

Free
  • 1 user
  • 2GB
More plans
Dropbox Essentials (aka Professional for professionals)
  • (Formerly Dropbox One) 1 user Signature requests and eSignature templates
  • 3TB
Dropbox Business (aka Standard for teams)
  • 3 users minimum
  • 5TB
Dropbox Business Plus (aka Advanced for companies)
  • 3 users minimum
Dropbox Enterprise
    Business Plans
    ProviderPlanCost per Month per UserStorage per User
    Google DriveBusiness Starter$7.2030GB
    Business Standard$14.402TB
    Business Plus$21.605TB
    DropboxProfessional
    Business Standard$185TB

    Google Drive has four business plans under the Google Workspace, ranging from $6 per user per month annually for 30GB of pooled storage to $21.60 per user per month for 5TB per user. Users can also contact the sales team to subscribe to the Enterprise package, with custom pricing. 

    Dropbox has two plans for teams of at least three people. Professional is the cheapest plan in this category, at per user per month annually for of storage per person. Business Standard costs $15 per user per month annually for 5TB of storage per person. 

    Speed: Upload & Download: Which Provider Is Better?

    Google Drive and Dropbox are essentially equally fast. We tested their speeds by uploading a 5GB folder, and it took us about 7 minutes and 9 seconds on Google Drive, and 7 minutes and 4 seconds on Dropbox. To download the 5GB folder, it took us about 7 minutes and 25 seconds on Google Drive, while Dropbox needed about 7 minutes and 19 seconds. 

    DownloadUpload
    Google Drive0:07:250:07:09
    Dropbox0:07:190:07:04

    To determine the fastest cloud storage solutions, we used a Windows virtual machine hosted in Dublin, Ireland. We had a 1 Gbps internet connection throttled to 100 Mbps for stability, and our folder included assorted file types, such as audio, 4K video, images, documents and raw text files.

    How Does Dropbox and Google Drive Compare to Alternatives? 

    If you want to consider other services, check out…

    • Sync.com: Sync.com offers end-to-end encryption and zero-knowledge encryption. Learn more in our Sync.com review.
    • pCloud: pCloud is a cloud storage service that implements zero-knowledge encryption. Check out our pCloud review.
    • Box: Box has advanced security features for enterprises and large businesses. Read our Box review for more details.
    1. 1
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      1TB – Unlimited GB$6 / month(All Plans)
    2. 2
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      500GB – 10TB$4.17 / month(save 24%)(All Plans)
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      100GB – Unlimited GB$5 / month(save 28%)(All Plans)

    Dropbox vs Google Drive: Similarities

    Google Drive and Dropbox employ similar security measures, such as AES 256-bit encryption and optional two-factor authentication (2FA). In addition, they both integrate with native apps in their ecosystems and third-party apps.

    Basic File Syncing & Sharing

    You can access Dropbox and Google Drive through the respective web, mobile or desktop applications. Any changes you make to your files will sync with the connected devices. Google Drive and Dropbox also allow you to upload files, which automatically sync with connected devices. 

    Dropbox and Google Drive allow you to share files through simple steps, such as by generating a link or via email. On Google Drive, you can set the recipients as viewers, commenters or editors of the files you share. However, Dropbox only allows you to set recipients as viewers or editors on shared files. You can revoke access to shared files with one click. 

    Integrations & Apps: More Than Windows & Mac

    Both Dropbox and Google Drive integrate with native and third-party apps. Google Drive natively integrates with other Google apps like Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms. You can find these apps by clicking the “+” sign in the top-left corner; the file will open in a new tab. You can also integrate third-party apps on Google Drive from the Google Workspace Marketplace.

    google workspace marketplace
    You can integrate Google Drive with apps in the Google Workspace Marketplace.

    Dropbox has some native apps, such as Dropbox Paper and Dropbox Transfer. You can create Dropbox files in almost any file format you want, such as Dropbox Paper Docs, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. 

    You can also integrate Dropbox with third-party apps from the app center. These third-party apps are classified as “education,” “workflow automation” and “productivity,” among others. 

    dropbox app center
    You can integrate Dropbox with third-party apps from its app center.

    You can also create and launch an app from Dropbox’s app center by clicking the “build an app” button. This means you can build an app in the DBX Platform (developer platform) and launch it to Dropbox’s more than 700 million users. 

    Smart & Selective Sync

    Dropbox uses the smart sync feature to allow you to determine which files or folders should appear online. With this feature, everything you set as “online only” will appear in your sync folder but won’t take up space on your drive. 

    dropbox smart sync
    You can use Dropbox’s smart sync feature to sync your files across devices and on the cloud.

    When you download the desktop version, Google Drive creates a sync folder on your local machine. You can use the selective sync feature to determine which files or folders remain on the cloud and on your local drive. However, Google Drive does not implement block-level file copying or sync. 

    google drive selective sync
    Google Drive’s selective sync allows you to store files only on the cloud or on both your computer and the cloud.
    Security 

    Dropbox and Google Drive have various security measures, such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit, to protect data from breaches or unauthorized access. Users can enable two-factor authentication to ensure that malicious users can’t access files or accounts. Two-factor authentication adds protection to the username/email and password combination.

    Dropbox and Google Drive comply with data-processing standards like GDPR and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The two cloud services also adhere to physical security standards like ISO 27001, SOC 2 and PCI DSS.

    Google Drive vs Dropbox: Differences

    Google Drive and Dropbox differ in how they sync files, as well as in how they handle file browsing and organization. The last area where Dropbox and Google Drive differ is in terms of privacy — specifically, regarding how they process and share private data. 

    File Recovery and Versioning

    Google Drive provides users 30 days of file versioning on regular plans. Dropbox provides 30-day file versioning on the Basic, Plus and Family plans. 

    With Dropbox, users on the Plus and Family plans have 30 days to recover their files. Those on the Standard and Professional plans have 180 days. Team Advanced and Enterprise users have a 365-day recovery window. Also worth noting is that Dropbox offers to store files for up to 10 years as an add-on to some of its paid plans. 

    In addition, you can set user permissions for shared files to allow recipients to view or edit the contents. The changes you make to your files will sync automatically with all connected devices on both Dropbox and Google Drive cloud solutions. 

    recover dropbox deleted files
    Recover deleted files on Dropbox with just a few clicks.

    On Google Drive’s personal plans, you have 30 days to recover files or 100 previous versions, whichever comes first. However, Google Drive’s users enjoy unlimited file recovery on business plans with Google Vault. 

    google drive restore deleted files
    You can recover deleted files on Google Drive within 30 days.
    Advanced File Sharing & Management

    Google Drive allows you to send different file types and set recipients as viewers, commenters or editors. You can generate a link or share a file via email while on Google Drive. However, Google Drive does not offer advanced settings like link passwords or expiry dates. 

    share files on google drive
    Share files on Google Drive through email or via a link.

    Dropbox allows you to share files and folders with others and set them as viewers or editors. You can also implement advanced file management features, such as setting content-viewing privileges, establishing passwords for links, setting expiration dates or disabling downloads, if you are subscribed to one of Dropbox’s paid plans.

    set dropbox sharing permissions
    You can set link expiration dates and passwords or disable downloads from the settings in Dropbox.
    Block-Level File Transfers

    Dropbox’s use of block-level sync means that it syncs small edits to large files faster than Google Drive. Whenever you change a file, only the parts that have been changed are uploaded, eliminating the need to reupload the entire file.

    Google Drive does not use block-level sync. However, its servers are quite fast, and you may not even notice a difference in sync speeds compared to Dropbox when dealing with small files. 

    File Browsing, Search and Organization

    Both Google Drive and Dropbox allow you to search for files you have stored on the cloud. 

    Google Drive has basic and advanced search buttons. On a basic level, you narrow down your search based on categories such as “files,” “folders,” “type,” “people,” “modified” or “location.” Google Drive also provides search suggestions as you type. 

    google drive search
    You can search files or folders by “type,” “people,” “modified” or “location,” or use the search bar.

    For advanced searches, Google Drive has options like finding files using exact words or phrases. You can also find documents that exclude a certain keyword or search by file owner. The advanced search options are endless.

    google drive advanced search
    You can use Google Drive’s advanced search feature to look for and filter documents, folders and files on the cloud.

    By contrast, Dropbox allows you to search files only by name or type. Dropbox’s search button allows you to ask a question or search by keyword, but there is no advanced search functionality like with Google Drive. 

    dropbox search
    Search files on Dropbox using people, tags or advanced artificial intelligence.

    Dropbox and Google Drive use optical character recognition (OCR) to read and recognize text in images and PDFs. This makes it easy to search for content in your PDFs.

    Privacy

    Neither Dropbox nor Google Drive has a good reputation for user privacy. According to Google’s privacy policy, Google collects and processes the content you create, receive from others or upload to its servers. Google also emphasizes that it scans all the files you create and upload for viruses. In addition, Google shares your data with affiliates and service providers. 

    Google has faced two major privacy breaches so far. The latest was in 2018, when a Google+ bug exposed 52.5 million users’ data. It took Google six days to fix the bug, and the company later discontinued Google+. 

    Dropbox collects and processes information on your account (data you provide during signup) and your content (files and folders you create and share). Dropbox’s privacy policy states that it shares your data with trusted third parties like service providers. 

    Neither of the two services implements zero-knowledge encryption. However, competing services like Sync.com do use zero-knowledge encryption. A zero-knowledge cloud storage platform doesn’t store the decrypting key on its servers, ensuring that not even the cloud storage company’s employees can decrypt your files.

    Is Google Drive or Dropbox Better for Storing Photos?

    Google Drive and Dropbox allow users to store and manage photos, among other file types. You can share and preview photos, as well as manage permissions for the photos you share. The biggest difference is that Google Drive offers 15GB of storage on its free plan, whereas Dropbox only provides 2GB

    However, Google makes it easier to manage photos using Google Photos. Even though it’s a separate app, Google Photos shares storage with Google Drive and allows you to organize and manage your photo library. You can create albums, collages and highlight videos, as well as enable automatic photo backup from your mobile device . 

    Is Google Drive or Dropbox Better for Business?

    Dropbox has better features for a business setup in terms of integrations, file security and management.

    Google Drive provides business features with the Google Workspace plans, where you can use Meet, Gmail, Slides, Docs and Sheets. You can also integrate with third-party apps from the Google Workspace Marketplace. 

    On the other hand, Dropbox integrates with Google and Microsoft Office apps, so you can work with your favorite productivity apps if you are part of the Microsoft ecosystem. Dropbox integrates with more apps than Google Drive. 

    Dropbox’s app integrations, advanced file security and management features on its paid plans give it an edge over Google Drive for business applications. You can set link passwords and expiration dates with Dropbox to better control your files.

    The Verdict: Why We Think Dropbox Wins Overall

    Even though Google Drive is an excellent cloud storage solution,Dropbox has the edge. First, Dropbox implements block-level sync, so you don’t need to reupload an entire file to sync changes when you make edits. This means that large files sync faster on Dropbox than on Google Drive.

    Second, Dropbox has an extra layer of cloud storage security for shared files. For instance, you can set file passwords and link expiration dates. These features are unavailable on Google Drive, as you can only set user permissions such as viewer, commenter or editor during file sharing. 

    Last, Dropbox excels in third-party integrations. You can integrate Dropbox with both the Google and the Microsoft app ecosystem. In addition, the Dropbox app center has hundreds of third-party apps in different categories. Google Drive integrates well with its own ecosystem and library of third-party apps, but Dropbox has a bigger selection. 

    FAQ: Google Drive vs Dropbox 

    • If you are a fan of Google apps and want a generous free plan and an easy-to-use interface, go with Google Drive. However, if you want to be able to integrate with hundreds of third-party apps, enjoy fast sync and set passwords or link expiry dates for your files, opt for Dropbox.

    • Dropbox has two major downsides: It offers only 2GB on the free plan, and it doesn’t implement zero-knowledge encryption. The lack of zero-knowledge encryption opens up the possibility of Dropbox’s employees accessing the content in your files.

    • Yes. Dropbox has more than 700 million registered users. Dropbox was launched in 2008 and now has more than 15.48 million paying users.

    • The decision on whether to move from Dropbox to Google Drive will depend on your specific needs. Go with Dropbox if you want better control over your files and faster sync. However, if you are looking for better real-time collaboration, more storage space on the free plan and an easy-to-use platform, then transferring from Dropbox to Google Drive is a wise decision.

    Sources

    1. 6 Ways Dropbox Helped Sundance Filmmakers – Dropbox Blog
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