Google Drive vs Everyone Else

Google Drive officially released and is in the process of rolling out. The name change, essentially bridges Google Docs (now renamed Google Drive) with online storage support. It connects all your Google-driven accounts together like documents, Google+, and images.

Google Drive also lets you share content with friends and get comments on anything uploaded. Current support is through desktops and on Android devices. iOS apps are currently in development without a concrete release date.

Nick highlighted the release already, but how does Google Drive fare against other online storage services like iCloud, SkyDrive, and Dropbox?

Google Drive

5 GB – Free
25 GB – $2.49/month or $29.88/year
100 GB – $4.99/month or $59.88/year
1 TB – $49.99/month or $599.88/year

The biggest incentive of Google Drive is the unified connectivity between your Google accounts. The 5 GB is free storage is nice, but allowing friends to comment on your content inside Google Drive is an interesting idea.

The installed desktop app adds a shortcut in Windows Explorer just like Dropbox, but Google Drive appears faster with uploads than Dropbox. Other than drag-and-drop, the desktop app doesn’t have any other functions and most file creation/editing is done through web browser. Google Drive functionality through a web browser isn’t anything different from when it was called Google Docs. Add in another left-side tab called “My Drive” and that’s the main new interface change.

Google Drive’s cloud storage is great for constant travelers who share files with others, but 5 GB for media storage like videos or music is small. An extra treat is that with any paid account, you get your Gmail storage raised to 25 GB as opposed to the sub-8 GB offered normally.

Still, the service is new and there’s a lot of space for growth.

SkyDrive

7 GB – Free
7 GB + 20 GB – $10.00/year
7 GB + 50 GB – $25.00/year
7 GB + 100 GB – $50.00/year

Microsoft’s cloud storage option is larger with the amount of free space and the 107 GB is cheaper than Google Drive’s $59.88/year. Even though it’s Microsoft’s service, SkyDrive isn’t that widespread with Dropbox being the most common name-dropped cloud storage service.

I’ve had a Hotmail account since 1998 and I have a SkyDrive account that I’ve never used. It just never occurred to me to use it. That may be a problem for Skydrive. Microsoft has a SkyDrive app for your desktop, but the web interface is very slow and unfriendly.

But if you are still using Hotmail as your main email account, SkyDrive is an available option for you. Microsoft is lowering cloud storage from the original 25 GB to 7 GB, but you still have a little time to keep the space.

iCloud

5 GB – Free
5 GB + 10 GB – $20.00/year
5 GB + 20 GB – $40.00/year
5 GB + 50 GB – $100.00/year

iCloud is a good service if you live and breathe Apple. The prices are higher than Google Drive or SkyDrive but iCloud backs up your iOS files like Mail, Contacts, and Calendar, as well as  iTunes music and apps, but those 5 GB might not be enough.

By default with all the apps that people download, they will cap the free 5 GB quickly with app data and other miscellaneous data that iCloud will backup by default. The closed environment of iCloud is the limiting factor of using the service. It backs up 1st party content that is not easily accessible.

While basic users will probably have no problem using the service, advanced users will get frustrated with the limitations.

Dropbox

2 GB – Free
50 GB – $9.99/month or $99.99/year
100 GB – $19.99/month or $199.99/year

Dropbox is probably the most common of cloud storage, but I think it’s more well known for quick sharing files with others. The 2 GB storage is perfect for most people who want to send files to each other and then delete the content.

The price per MB is higher than others, but Dropbox uses a referral system where you can earn more space by getting others to join. The referral system offsets the standard costs, but I think it would get annoying to constantly have to get people to sign up to reach the space ceiling.

DropBox uses a variable upload system and by default it isn’t that fast, but going into your settings can change the upload speed. While uploading really depends on your connection, it’s good to know you can increase speeds.

Dropbox is the name I hear the most when people talk about sending files that email can’t support, but I never hear about it being used for long term file storage. It’s more like the “quick fix” for sharing rather than storing files.

Overall

When compared to other cloud storage options, Google Drive is the best option for Google-connected users and especially for those who want to work on shared documents. It’s a little early to accurately gauge it against SkyDrive, iCloud, or DropBox because Google Drive just launched. And as always with Google products, they are usually works-in-progress.

For it’s first stages, Google Drive has a solid structure. Now it’s time to wait and see what else will be added.

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