Cloud storage is a key feature for any business, ranging from a sole proprietor to a large organization. Whether you choose to use them to maintain a constant backup copy of your organization’s files, or you count on your cloud storage account to help you easily share files among those inside and outside your organization, cloud storage services are vital.
When you want to select among two of the best cloud storage services, you’ll often land on a Google Drive vs Dropbox comparison.
Dropbox has been available in the market for a long time, starting more than a decade ago as a way for individuals to easily share large files with each other. It has migrated to a strong cloud storage and collaboration tool, giving even large organizations the ability to handle file sharing, synching, and collaboration. Its upper subscription tiers place no limits on storage capacity.
Google Drive has not been around quite as long as Dropbox, but it has closed the gap quickly. Google Drive by itself offers more features and storage tiers aimed at individuals and small businesses than Dropbox. Larger businesses may want to subscribe to G Suite, which gives them multiple collaboration tools, along with the potential for unlimited storage capacities through Google Drive.
We’ll break down Google Drive vs Dropbox (along with a little information on G Suite) and help you figure out which is best and why for your particular situation.
Our Recommendation: Dropbox
In our Google Drive vs Dropbox comparison, we’re going to give Dropbox the slightest edge for the average user. That advantage for Dropbox becomes wider if you are a larger organization that needs quite a few extra communications and file sharing services. The busier you are within your business with regard to file creation, the more value you’ll gain from Dropbox.
Versus Google Drive, Dropbox has more features made to give organizations and businesses an advantage in terms of security capabilities and maximum storage levels.
We also like the way Dropbox is able to update file changes more quickly than Google Drive, as it is able to upload only the portions of each file that have undergone editing changes, rather than the entire file, each time it updates. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you handle dozens or hundreds of file changes across your organization every few minutes, the better speed found with Dropbox will be noticeable.
Ultimately, Dropbox offers more features and more storage for enterprise level users than Google Drive, so if this matches your planned use case, go with Dropbox.
When to Select Google Drive Instead
There are occasions where Google Drive may be a better choice for your organization.
If you are a sole proprietorship or a small organization that does not need to have dozens of edited files uploaded to the cloud every few minutes, Google Drive’s need to upload the entire file each time an editing change occurs, which slows the process a bit, may not be noticeable.
Google Drive’s pricing structures are significantly less than Dropbox, and it offers more for free than Dropbox does. So if budget is especially important to you, and if you don’t have high-end file storage, sharing, and synching needs, Google Drive is an excellent choice.
For many of those who already are G Suite subscribers, sticking with Google Drive (because it is part of G Suite) would be an adequate choice. As a G Suite subscriber, you can gain a far greater amount of storage in Google Drive than you can as a Google Drive subscriber alone, giving the G Suite/Google Drive combination comparable levels of features to Dropbox for enterprise level users.
Key Features to Compare in Google Drive vs Dropbox
Here are the key features for these two cloud document management and data storage products. We’ve also selected the winner within each featured category between the two brands (or selected a tie) when taking into account the needs of the majority of customers.
When comparing the price of Dropbox vs Google Drive, it’s important to pay attention to the particulars. This is an area where we are not able to just give you a blanket recommendation of one over the other in all situations. The specifics matter here.
Having said that, the Dropbox pricing is a bit better than Google Drive per GB, as long as you are using a large chunk of the storage space for which you are paying. If you don’t need a large amount of storage, you’ll end up paying more with Dropbox overall, though, because you will not be taking full advantage of the storage space it has.
In other words, try to match the subscription level you select to the amount of storage you actually need, rather than purchasing 5 TB of storage and only using 20% of it. Instead, pick 2 TB, and use at least 50% of it for the better value. (You don’t want to always be right up against your storage capacity limit, so choose the limit carefully, usually somewhere between 50% and 70% of your typical storage needs.)
For those who don’t mind paying for storage, and who need extremely high levels of storage, Dropbox is the sure winner here. Dropbox has three pricing tiers for business level users and three tiers for sole proprietors or non-commercial users. Here are the pricing options for Dropbox (based on a monthly purchase plan, but you can save 17% to 20% per year with an annual purchase plan).
- Basic (for individuals): Free with 2 GB of storage
- Plus (for individuals): $11.99 per user per month with 2 TB of storage
- Professional (for individuals): $19.99 per user per month with 3 TB of storage
- Standard (for business): $15 per user per month with 5 TB of storage
- Advanced (for business): $25 per user per month with unlimited storage
- Enterprise (for business): Must call for price quotes
The middle tiers provide a free trial period, if you’d like to try them out, but the Plus level does not have a free trial.
For the upper individual tiers and the lower business tiers, you’ll be paying about 3 to 6.5 cents per 10 GB of storage.
Google Drive Pricing
With Google Drive, you’ll have access to less storage than with Dropbox, but you’ll also pay less per month. Within this pricing list, we will look at prices for purchasing Google Drive alone (based on a monthly purchase plan, but you can save 16% to 17% per year with an annual purchase plan).
- Free: Free with 15 GB of storage
- 100 GB: $1.99 per user per month for 100 GB of storage
- 200 GB: $2.99 per user per month for 200 GB of storage
- 2 TB (or about 2,000 GB): $9.99 per user per month for 2 TB of storage
For these tiers, you’ll be paying about 5 to 20 cents per 10 GB of storage.
G Suite and Google Drive Pricing
For those who are subscribing to G Suite, you’ll gain some storage space in Google Drive as part of the subscription (for no extra cost).
Now, if you are only subscribing to G Suite to use the storage space in Google Drive, this is not a cost effective option. But if you want G Suite’s features to use with your organization, receiving Google Drive storage as part of the benefit list is a very nice feature. Here are the pricing tiers for G Suite, along with the Google Drive storage options.
- Basic: $6 per user per month (with 30 GB of cloud storage per user)
- Business: $12 per user per month (with 1 TB of cloud storage per user or unlimited storage with five or more users)
- Enterprise: Must call for price quotes (with 1 TB of cloud storage per user or unlimited storage with five or more users)
With the Business tier of G Suite, you’ll be paying about 12 cents per 10 GB of storage, unless you have more than five subscribers, where your cost becomes significantly less if you use more than 1 TB of storage per user.
Ease of Use
Winner: Google Drive
For those who use Gmail or other services from Google, Google Drive will be extremely easy to use, as its interface is similar to that of other Google tools and apps. Google Drive’s interface just makes a lot of sense.
That doesn’t mean Dropbox’s interface is poor or that it is difficult to use. We just prefer the familiarity of Google Drive’s interface.
Both of these services have strong security features, including using a maximum 256-bit AES encryption on files. (Both services also have times where they use 128-bit AES encryption.)
You can use two-factor authentication with either service in the Google Drive vs Dropbox comparison as well.
One of the best reasons to deploy a cloud file storage system is to gain access to quick and efficient file sharing. Although both services in the Google Drive vs Dropbox battle allow file sharing and make it relatively easy, we prefer Dropbox’s offerings, especially for busy organizations that need to share a large number of files, while maintaining specific control over the use of those files.
Both services give you the opportunity to share files or folders with multiple people. You can set up each file to have view-only or edit-and-comment permissions.
However, the primary difference between them is a big one. Dropbox allows users to set passwords with expiration dates on its file sharing permissions, while Google Drive does not.
This means that with Dropbox, you are able to allow others to view or edit your files, but they only have a certain amount of time to make these editing changes. Once the password expires, they no longer can gain access to the file.
With Google Drive, once you give permission to another user, he or she will continue to have permission to access the file until you move the file to another folder or until you change the permissions.
Storage Space (Free)
Winner: Google Drive
When you just want a little bit of storage space from your cloud storage service, Google Drive is the better selection, as it has 15 GB of space for free, while Dropbox only offers 2 GB.
Now, we did not put a lot of emphasis on this category in our Google Drive vs Dropbox comparison, because the majority of small business users will need to purchase additional storage beyond what’s available for free. But when you want to test these services, it is helpful to have a bit of free space to use while you gain a feel for each service’s interface.
Storage Space (Premium)
Dropbox has multiple storage tiers, including an unlimited storage tier. Dropbox’s largest storage tier that has a storage cap is 5 TB. This dwarfs the maximum level of 200 GB that you’ll find with Google Drive alone. (However, if your organization subscribes to G Suite, you may be using a tier that has an unlimited storage amount per user.)
Google Drive is more expensive than Dropbox per gigabyte, as we discussed earlier, when you are making use of at least 50% of the storage space in the tier that you purchased. But for those small businesses that don’t need a large amount of storage space, Google Drive is going to be the more economical choice for some of them.
Dropbox has a slight edge in the Google Drive vs Dropbox when it comes to how you will sync your files and how quickly you can accomplish this.
Dropbox uses what it calls a smart sync feature that makes the synchronization process go faster than with Google Drive, especially when you are dealing with huge numbers of files in your organization.
With smart sync, Dropbox only updates the segment of a file that has had an editing change, rather than updating the entire file. With Google Drive, the service must update the entire file each time an editing change occurs.
Additionally, Google Drive does not natively support file synching from the Linux operating system, while Dropbox does.