Dropbox and Google Drive are two of the foremost cloud storage services. With them you can save your files on the web instead of being restricted to a hard disk. Both also have desktop and mobile apps with which you can organize files in a folder that syncs with the cloud storage. There are various cloud storage services, but Google Drive and Dropbox have the most extensive user bases. Along with Microsoft’s OneDrive, they make up the big three cloud storage providers. This is how Dropbox and Google Drive compare.
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Firstly, it’s worth noting how the Google Drive and Dropbox account subscriptions compare. Both cloud storage providers offer free storage. Google Drive provides 15 GB of free storage compared with Dropbox’s two GB. So in that respect, Google Drive certainly offers better value; but Dropbox users can gain extra free storage with referrals and by enabling camera upload on mobiles. Each referral that signs up for Dropbox will give you an extra 500 MB, and switching on automatic photo upload expands storage by three GB. The maximum free Dropbox storage can amount to 16 GB, so 28 referrals on top of your starting storage will get you there.
The annual subscription pricing for Dropbox and Google Drive might seem similar. Both offer one TB of storage with a $99 annual subscription. In addition, both have the same $9.99 monthly subscription rates for one TB. But Google Drive’s storage plans are more flexible as you can also get 100 GB storage for just $1.99 a month ($19.99 a year). Google Drive also offers up to 30 TB of storage a month. So Google Drive generally offers better account value than Dropbox.
Google Drive is compatible with the Windows and Mac OS X desktop platforms. You can’t use its desktop app on Linux, but can still use the web client at least. It’s obviously compatible with Google’s Android OS, with which it comes pre-installed, and the iOS. Also note that more update versions of Chrome, Firefox, IE and Safari browsers are needed for GD.
Dropbox is compatible with more platforms than Google Drive. You can use the cloud storage with Windows, Mac (OS X Snow Leopard and macOS Sierra) and Linux (more specifically Fedora and Ubuntu). Furthermore, Dropbox is also compatible with the iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and Windows Phone mobile and tablet platforms. The Dropbox Windows app is even available for Xbox One, and enables users to show off their fave photos and videos on TV. So Dropbox is probably a better bet if you need to use your cloud storage across a range of devices.
The Dropbox and Google Drive web Clients
The Dropbox and Google Drive web clients enable you to organize and edit cloud storage files in your browser. Google Drive’s web client has the notable advantage of its very own office suite for you to edit files with, but now Dropbox also enables users to edit text documents, spreadsheets and presentations with the Microsoft Office Online suite. You can also edit MS Office files with the Android and iOS Dropbox mobile apps. Dropbox users can edit the .ocx, .xlsx and .pptx file formats with MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint online tools and their mobile apps.
However, Google Drive’s office suite, more specifically Google Docs, Forms, Drawings, Sheets and Slides, is still better for editing documents than Dropbox. For starters, you can edit a much wider variety of document formats in Google Drive. In addition, you can also create new documents from scratch in Google Drive. So if you need to edit documents, Google Drive is your best bet.
Google Drive integrates with numerous Google web apps and services such as Gmail, Calender, Pixlr editor, Drive Notepad, YouTube, Google Plus and Google Maps. For example, Google Photos is almost built-in to GD as it shares the same storage. Photos enables you to save images to GD without using any storage space with its High quality (free unlimited storage) option. Gmail users can also quickly save email attachments to Google Drive.
Dropbox has widespread third-party app integration. Dropbox’s open API ensures developers can easily develop apps for the cloud storage service. Estimates highlight that there are more than 100,000 third-party apps to sync with Dropbox. With some of those extra apps users can host a website in Dropbox, collect URL clippings to Dropbox and sync Google Docs to Dropbox. This Tech Junkie post tells you about a few of the extra things you can do with Dropbox.
Google Drive’s web client has better search tools than Dropbox. This isn’t entirely surprising as it comes with Google’s own advanced search tools. Clicking the arrow on the right of GD’s search box opens the tools and options in the snapshot directly below that enable you to search for more specific file types with additional filters on top.
Desktop and Mobile client apps
Both Dropbox and Google Drive have desktop and mobile apps with which you can sync and share files. Overall, the desktop client apps are fairly similar software packages; but, as has already been mentioned, Dropbox is compatible with more desktop and mobile platforms. As such, Dropbox’s client apps enable wider device syncing.
The Dropbox desktop client generally has more flexible file management. One limitation of the Google Drive desktop client is that it only opens documents in Google Docs, so you’ll need to export files from Docs to edit them in other software. Another advantage of Dropbox’s desktop and mobile apps is that they don’t have any maximum file size limit for uploads (but the website’s file upload limit is 10 GB). Google Drive has a maximum upload limit of five TB, but that should still be more than enough in most cases.
As Dropbox is partnered with Microsoft, its client apps also have better Windows integration. For example, the native Dropbox Windows 10 app is built upon the Universal Windows Platform. Consequently, users can drag and drop files from File Explorer into the app to save them to the cloud. You can also accept shared folder invites with Windows 10 notifications, and the app also supports Windows Hello that gives you an alternative way to sign in to Dropbox.
Dropbox boasts 256-bit AES encryption level, which is military-grade. In comparison, Google Drive has weaker 128-bit AES encryption. However, Google Drive has a higher 256-bit SSL encryption for file transfer. That’s better than Dropbox’s 128-bit SSL encryption. Both GD and Dropbox also have two-step verification double login options, but neither has a personal encryption key option.
File Type Support
Google Drive supports up to 30 file types for you to view in browser. Google Drive users can view image, video, audio, document, text, markup, archive, MS Office, Apple and Adobe (PDF, Photoshop and Illustrator) file types in various formats. In addition, there are third-party apps for GD that can handle further file types and formats.
The number of file types Dropbox previews is a little more limited. In Dropbox you can preview document, presentation, spreadsheet, basic text, link, video and audio file types in various formats. When it comes to editing the files, you can only modify MS Office file formats in Dropbox with its Office Online integration. Aside from that, you’ll have to download any other file format to edit it.
Google Drive offers a better support service than Dropbox. Phone support is offered with Google Drive subscriptions, and you can also get some technical support via e-mail, live chat, the GD forum and website tutorials. Dropbox lacks the live chat and phone services, but still has forum, website and email support for the cloud storage.
All things considered, there isn’t much between Google Drive and Dropbox. With its more flexible subscription packages and greater free storage Google Drive has better account value, and its web client has more features, greater file type support and a better search tool than Dropbox. So in that respect Google Drive is the better cloud storage provider. However, Dropbox’s more flexible and streamlined desktop and mobile client apps, extensive third-party app support and greater platform compatibility make it ideal for basic file sharing across multiple devices.