Top cloud storage and file synchronization services Google Drive and Dropbox share several features like some free storage, version history, selective folder syncing, event tracking, and customized sharing permissions.
Dropbox offers only 2GB of free storage in contrast to Google's 5GB and costs twice as much as Google Drive for additional storage. Google Drive allows users to edit files online, unlike Dropbox, where files have to be downloaded to a computer before editing. On the other hand, Dropbox supports file sharing through its desktop version, a feature not available in Google Drive.
|Introduction (from Wikipedia)||Dropbox is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software.||Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service by Google. Google Drive is now the home of Google Docs, a suite of productivity applications, that offer collaborative editing on documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.|
|Initial release||September 2008||June 6, 2006 as Google Docs|
|Operating systems supported||Desktop: Windows, Mac, Linux - Mobile: Android, iOS, Blackberry, Kindle Fire)||Desktop: Windows, Mac, Linux. Mobile: Android, iOS|
|Available Free Storage||2GB (+ extra for connecting via twitter or referring friends.)||5 GB|
|Pricing||Free to $15/mo.||Monthly rates: 25GB $2.49; 100GB $4.99; 200GB $9.99; 400GB $19.99; 1TB $49.99; 2TB $99.99; 4TB $199.99; 8TB $399.99; 16TB $799.99|
|Simultaneous online editing by multiple users||No||Yes|
|Mobile access||Browser or app.||Via mobile browser or via mobile app. There are official applications for Android, iOS. There are no application for Windows Phone 7 or 8.|
|File Size Upload Limits||300 MB via website. Unlimited via desktop app.||10GB via website and desktop app.|
|Available in||English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Latin American Spanish, Castilian Spanish , Brazilian, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Pусский, Polski, 中文（简体）, 中文（繁體）||60+ languages, including interntaional and regional languages.|
|Online Document Editing||Yes||Yes|
Pricing and Storage
Dropbox begins with 2GB of free storage. It is possible to earn extra free storage, such as 125MB for connecting your account with Facebook or Twitter, or inviting other friends to join Dropbox. Paid accounts include $9.99/month or $99/year for 100GB, $19.99/month or $199/year for 200GB, and $49.99/month or $499/year for 500GB.
Google Drive begins with 15GB of free storage. Paid services range from $1.99/month for 100GB, $9.99/month for 1TB, $99.99 for 10TB, and so on. At the extreme end, there is an option for $299/month for 30TB.
Dropbox and Google Drive offer various common features, such as version history to to allow undoing of modifications, selective folder syncing to manage your content, events tracking, and customized sharing permissions. Watch this video for a comparison of both, common and distinct features of the two services:
Desktop and Web Clients
The Dropbox desktop client allows users to drag and drop any type of file into the dropbox folder. One of the perceived advantages of Dropbox is that users are able to open files in their preferred application, i.e. word documents can be directly opened with Microsoft Word. However, the Dropbox web client is less robust than Google’s offering, as files can only be viewed, but not edited via the web client. For editing, files must first be downloaded There is a basic built in search function available on both clients.
The Google Drive desktop client functions in the same way as the Dropbox desktop app, except files must be opened via the Google Docs software. If users want to open a document in Microsoft Word, they must first export the file from Google Docs. The web client is where Google Drive shines, as the built-in suite of software apps allows online editing of documents, spreadsheets and photos without needing to download anything to a local hard drive. Google Drive also has a much more powerful search tool, which not only performs highly specified searches of text and file names, but uses optical character recognition to search photos and scanned documents for context.
While both programs allow users to share files via the web client, only Dropbox supports file sharing directly through the desktop app. Files can be shared through a link, or by creating a shared folder with other users. Users in the same shared folder group can see anything placed in there by another user.
Although Google Drive does not allow for sharing via the desktop client, the web client has powerful sharing capabilities that are particularly appealing to large collaborative efforts. Documents can be shared via email, or with Google Docs, and easily posted on Blogger. One of the main benefits is that Google Drive allows for simultaneous online editing of documents by people in a group, eliminating one of the headaches of coordinating the activity of large groups. Additionally, it allows for documents to be locked by the administrator from further editing. Documents in Google Docs are automatically saved to Google servers to help prevent data loss.
Security and Permission
All documents in Dropbox are encrypted, and logging into the web client requires a two-step authentication process. Additionally, the Dropbox mobile app is the only one that requires a 4-digit passcode. Dropbox for Teams allows the creating of groups for sharing with different permission levels. The downside of this is that it creates another set of permissions independent of any other programs that must be managed.
For individuals or companies already using Google Docs, existing groups and permissions can be integrated into Google Drive, without need to create another set of groups/permissions/passwords.
Platforms and File Types
Dropbox is available for iOS, Mac, Windows, Android, Linux and Blackberry, which is a couple more options than for Google Drive. Dropbox supports the following file types: Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, audio, video, and image files.
Google Drive is available for iOS, Mac, Windows and Android, and should be available for Linux in the future. 3rd party developers are able to create applications that integrate with Google Drive. There is even an app (CloudHQ) which lets users see their dropbox files in the Google Drive. Google drive supports the following file types: Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, AutoCad, vector graphics files, audio, video and image files.
Note that any file type can be stored on these services, but only supported files can be opened without downloading and opening in their native programs.