iCloud vs OneDrive – Which is better? A comparison.

iCloud comes as an offering from Apple. Five GB of storage space in the cloud is offered to all Apple account owners free, under the name of iCloud. If users need more space in the cloud, they have to purchase more space by paying money. The question then emerges, which cloud storage service is the best, or at least, better than the iCloud. Though there are many names that come to one’s mind, OneDrive from Microsoft and Google Drive flash brightly. Google Drive has its own disadvantages when compared to Microsoft OneDrive. Google Drive is better compared to iCloud but not better than OneDrive, according to my experience. Let’s see the reasons why OneDrive is better than iCloud and Google Drive both – even if you are on a Mac.

iCloud vs. OneDrive comparison

iCloud vs. OneDrive


OneDrive vs iCloud Pricing

Pricing is one of the main factors that we check when comparing different services, others being flexibility, additional capabilities, etc. Before checking out OneDrive, let’s check out iCloud that is priced in July 2018 as follows.

  1. 5GB – free with every Mac account. That means if you use an iPhone and a Mac-based computer, you can share 5GB storage space between the devices. It is not specific to the number of devices connected but to the Apple ID: similar to Photos, iTunes, and similar Apple offerings.
  2. There is no upgrade in gradual increments of 5GB or 10GB as is the case with many other cloud computing services. The next increment available for iCloud is 50GB, and it costs $0.99 per month in the US (equal to Rs. 75 in India). There is no annual payment plan like others that offer some discount. So, for a year, you have to continue paying $0.99 per month which is close to $12 per year. If there were any annual plan, they might have made it $10 or so, thus giving some discount to their users.
  3. There is no increment available between 50GB and 200GB. If you need more than 50GB, you’ll have to go for 200GB by paying $2.99 monthly. Again, there is no annual plan and hence, no discount.
  4. Unlike OneDrive, iCloud doesn’t offer 1TB anymore. If you need more than 200GB, you will have to go for a 2TB plan that costs $9.99 per month. No annual plan here too.

That was about iCloud. Now let’s check up OneDrive pricing as in July 2018.

  1. As with iCloud, everyone gets 5GB of storage space free when they create a Microsoft account. As is the case with iCloud, OneDrive too is related to Microsoft Account and not with Microsoft devices. Thus, one Microsoft account gives you free 5GB OneDrive that you can use on Windows machines, Android phones, and even on MacOS. You just have to download the OneDrive app that syncs your local folders to Microsoft’s servers.
  2. Going ahead, you get 50GB storage space option at approx. $1.99 per year. This is costly when compared to iCloud that is only $0.99 for 50 GB. There is no an annual plan for 50 GB block, so you need to pay monthly and get no discount.
  3. For above 50GB storage plans, you’ll have to opt for 1 TB plan that comes at $6.99 per month. There is an annual plan too, for $69.99 per year. That doesn’t sound like a great saving but there are many more features that come with this plan, so you will not feel cheated. I will explain these features in the next section – once I am done with the pricing of iCloud and OneDrive storage spaces.
  4. Then there is a 5 x 1 TB storage space option where an account can buy 1TB storage for up to 5 users/accounts. It is useful when multiple users from a small organization or a family want to use OneDrive. Up to 5 members, including the account that buys the subscription, can use 1TB of OneDrive storage each. Again, you have additional features that won’t make you regret purchasing the package. This package comes at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

This was about standard pricing options among iCloud vs OneDrive.

Let’s now check out features that make OneDrive stand out among all the cloud service providers.

iCloud vs. OneDrive Features

First, let us look at iCloud – which acts just as storage space on the cloud. On occasions, you can set it to sync local folders by dragging and dropping local folders to an iCloud folder on your Mac or iOS device. You can’t do anything more.

As I said earlier, Google Drive is better than iCloud but not better than OneDrive. It is because Google Drive lets you create, collaborate, and share files that you stored on Google Drive. But it is not as flexible as OneDrive because the file formats are an issue. You can access and edit online documents, but the file formats are changed. If you don’t use Microsoft Office, you and your collaborators can simply use Google Docs to open and collaborate on the document. That’s a drawback of Google Docs. The process is a bit tedious. There is this Google Drive Plugin for Office that helps you with many Office related tasks, but that involves installing additional artifacts to your computer.

Coming to OneDrive, the integration is easier. You’ll find cloud apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote with the free version and the storage only version which means you can still create, edit, and share files directly from your OneDrive storage. With the 1TB and 5 x 1 TB schemes (both are sold as Office 365 plans), you get to download the latest versions of Microsoft Office.

Users can download these apps directly to their computers – be it Windows or MacOS or iOS for full functionality of editing. This also means offline editing that is not available with Google Docs. iClouds doesn’t provide anything to edit files. When using iCloud, you’ll have to open files using software or apps that support the format. That works in a way that first a copy is downloaded to the local machine, changes are made locally, and the final file is then uploaded to the iCloud.

When you are using the cloud, mobile, or desktop apps available from OneDrive plans, you save directly to OneDrive. There may or may not be a local OneDrive folder dependent on whether you installed the OneDrive sync app. Otherwise, you can open files directly from OneDrive, edit them, save them to OneDrive directly, and then share them if you wish.

Unlike iCloud, OneDrive is built to work easily with Microsoft Office apps – whether on the cloud, on mobile, or on the desktop. All of them directly operate on online files. These features make OneDrive better than iCloud. That’s why, in my opinion, OneDrive is much better than iCloud when it comes to cloud storage for any operating system. Using iCloud on Windows is quite tough and doesn’t have built-in editing features.

iCloud is integrated into MacOS and iOS but is still just an extended storage space. Since almost everyone tends to use Microsoft Office, OneDrive should be the default choice for cloud storage as its processes are built into the Office apps.

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Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN