Comparison: OneDrive versus Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud

Recently, we read about the launch of OneDrive (earlier called SkyDrive). Let us check how the features of OneDrive stack up against its competitor cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud.

When you sign up for OneDrive.com, you get 7 GB of free storage space. Additional storage options are also available to purchase. Apart from that we have seen that free Storage has been offered through various offers too, from time to time. The OneDrive user can store and share photos, videos, documents and more – anywhere, on any device. OneDrive App has been made available for mobile devices running on Windows Phone, Android and iOS.

OneDrive vs Google Drive vs Dropbox vs iCloud

OneDrive Exclusive features

If you are a user of the latest version of Windows that is Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, OneDrive is built into it and is tightly integrated. You can easily add files on your PC to OneDrive and you can browse your OneDrive using the updated OneDrive app or File Explorer in the desktop. So it is integrated in the Explorer itself in Windows 8.1.

Let us check some of its exclusive features which may not be present in competitors like Google Drive, iCloud or Dropbox:

Smart Files: You can have all your OneDrive files even on your mobile device with its limited storage. Also you can choose to have whatever files to be offline or online. This is possible because of Smart Files which syncs the metadata of the files and their hierarchy instead of actual files. So it occupies very less space. For more details you can check SkyDrive Smart Files in Windows 8.1 & how to Hydrate them.

Easy Saving: Many of the Windows Store App have the option to save directly to OneDrive, so developers can provide the option while developing their app.

Camera Roll backup: While using your mobile devices when you take various photos, videos you can choose to automatically upload these photos, videos to OneDrive Camera Roll folder. You also have the option to upload them in good or best quality. Thus you can remove them from your device in case of shortage of space which is a premium in such devices. In fact with the launch of OneDrive, it is providing additional 3GB Free storage space for Camera roll backups.

Sync PC settings: You can now back up as well as sync your PC/device settings, including Start screen settings, installed apps, app data and even your Internet Explorer favourites.

Code files native support : OneDrive supports code files natively. OneDrive has native support for viewing and editing various kinds of code files. It includes JavaScript, CSS, HTML, C#, PHP, Ruby, PowerShell scripts, Python , .sql files and many other code files. Code files inbrowser will have features like tab completion, syntax highlighting, line numbers,completion suggestions, IntelliSense, Find & Replace, ‘diff’ to track changes. For more details, please see this post on how to edit code files using OneDrive.

How does OneDrive handle different file types

OneDrive is not just cloud storage storing different types of files. It makes the user experience much better. Let us see how it works with different types of files. iCloud lets you store only specific types of files like photos for free. To store iWork documents in the cloud, you need to buy iWork apps separately. While Google Drive is focused on document storage. Google offers separate products- Google+ and Picasa for photo storage and sharing.

Documents: OneDrive is built in to the latest version of Office with option to save the documents to OneDrive directly making it seamless. And, with the free Office Online (earlier called Office Web Apps) in your browser, you can easily create, edit, share and simultaneously collaborate on your documents and even track changes keeping the document formatting. One doesn’t need to have Office on his PC to use Office Online.

Photos: As seen above OneDrive can automatically upload your camera roll photos, videos from your Windows 8.1 PC, Android, iOS or Windows Phones and tablets. Even the text within photos can be extracted and saved. If there are links , its URL can be extracted and copied. The text in photos are searchable too.

Notes: Save your notebooks to OneDrive and view and edit them from anywhere. OneNote is one of the most convenient and powerful ways to capture notes – or just about anything be it web clippings, drawing, handwriting recognition or audio capture. OneNote Online is part of the Free Office Online and can be accessed from OneDrive Appbar.

Surveys: You have the option to create Excel surveys in OneDrive provided by Excel Online. Thus one can create surveys easily, gather data from responses which can be further analysed by exporting it to Excel.

Videos: According to your internet speed, the OneDrive adopts Video playback. So videos can be watched on slower connections too.

OneDrive vs Google Drive vs Dropbox vs iCloud

These were some of the exclusive features of OneDrive and how it works with various types of files. Now let us check some feature by feature comparison with Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud.

Storage Options

OneDrive

Apple iCloud

Google Drive

Dropbox

Free Storage

7GB + 3GB**

5GB

15GB

2GB

Add 50 GB

$25

$100

Add 100 GB

$50

$60

$99

Add 200 GB

$100

$119

$199

Apps for device –

Windows

Y

Y

Y

Y

Mac

Y

Y

Y

Y

iOS

Y

Y

Y

Y

Windows Phone

Y

N

N

N

Android

Y

N

Y

Y

Xbox

Y

N

N

N

Work and Collaborate

Work seamlessly with Microsoft Office across PC, Mac and web

Y

N

N

N

Edit Office docs online simultaneously as others

Y

N

Y

N

Online viewing for Office documents

Y

N

Y

N

Edit documents in browser

Y

Y

Y

N

Create and Share Folders

Y

Y

Y

Y

Photos and Videos

Automatic Camera Roll back Up

Windows 8.1, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone

iOS

Separate products – Google+ and Picasa – are for photo storage and sharing

iOS and Android

Online Slide Show

Y

Y

*

Y

Email slide shows

Y

N

*

N

Post to Facebook

Y

N

N

N

Captions

Y

Y

*

Y

Show geotags

Y

Y

*

N

Y- YES, N- NO

*Google Drive is focused on document storage. Google offers separate products — Google+ and Picasa — for photo storage and sharing.

**Additional 3 GB is provided as CameraRoll Bonus when you start using CameraRoll Back up. OneDrive also providing referral Bonus to add upto 5GB (in increments of 500MB) when they refer a friend and they accept the invitation to OneDrive.

If any new features have been introduced which have been missed here or any corrections in other Cloud services Google Drive, iCoud or Dropbox, please post it in the comment section. So compare and try OneDrive.com if you haven’t yet!

Source: Microsoft.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
The author has been a Microsoft MVP awardee in various Windows categories (2006-2016) and currently a Windows Insider MVP. A Technology Enthusiast, interested in anything technical and is committed to Microsoft technologies and products. He is actively associated with various Microsoft online communities, forums, Newsgroups and has been actively involved in Beta testing various Microsoft products and bug submissions.

62 Comments

  1. Je Fawk

    Yup…I like OneDrive a lot ^^

  2. John G

    Think one drive has the better offering including, more affordable price, and larger set of feature with wider cross-platform compatibility.

  3. rammolo

    you get an additional 20GB when subscribed to office 365

  4. asd

    First of all, OneDrive (former SkyDrive) cannot handle a PC re-format like how Dropbox does. Dropbox firstly checks its content then syncs with cloud. However it is not possible with OneDrive. You have to download everything from start to your PC which makes the former (old) OneDrive folder useless.
    Second, without “SEARCH FUNCTION”, the whole iOS app is also useless.
    MS engineers should make a lot effort on these two..

  5. Toph

    One main reason that I still prefer Dropbox over other cloud services despite the fact that it offers less free storage space is that it is open-source, therefore developers have made several programs and apps based on its APIs providing extra features such as shared clipboards.

    It would be better if you compared Box.net too. And of course, it offers 10GB of free space and you can score up to 50GB for free! Yes, more than OneDrive 😉

  6. Magneto

    exactly. there are also so so many applications out there which only support dropbox. so using something like skydrive is completely useless to me. i didn’t know that box is so generous. i registered an account and wil use it as an online backup for my personal files

  7. vasudevG

    Nice to know other services features, but any of them providing Smart Files like features?You can access all your Cloud files on your mobile even if you dont have space to see all the files. @asd Can you please elaborate what you meant by ‘PC re-format like how Dropbox does…’ about the Dropbox feature

  8. MarkL

    What he means is, you can wipe your hard drive and manually reload the local Dropbox folder. When you restart the machine, the Dropbox client will scan the local PC folder, then check it against the web. In effect, picking right back up where it left off. I don’t know about OneDrive, so I’m assuming it works like Google Drive. When Google Drive sees that the folder is “new” (which would happen with a reformat), it insists that it be EMPTY, and that everything be downloaded to it from the cloud. That’s hugely annoying if you have a lot of files in your cloud storage area.

    Also, the Dropbox app for iOS (that’s the only one I can speak to) lets me access 100% of my files when I’m mobile, and without downloading them to my device. Whatever OTHER cloud storage systems a given app supports, they will support Dropbox also.

    I think the media file handling by OneDrive is intriguing and I might be looking into it. But Dropbox is ROCK solid and fast, and I’ve used it for years, so I trust it.

  9. drawik

    And what do you think about copy from Baracuda? It offers 15GB + 5GB for each referral.

  10. seiferflo

    +1 on the first argument. This is quite an annoying behaviour. That’s why I’m still using Dropbox and HubiC in addition.

  11. AndyMackee

    That’s a nice comparison, but I recently found I use cloud drives less and less. Whatever your limit is, you’re going to hit it sooner than later, and then if you need to share anything, you have to do a lot of shuffling between your cloud drive and local drive…

    I think it’s much better to use the cloud only for online backup. I now share everything I have to share with others through Filemail.com – they let you send any number of files up to 30 GB each, no registration needed, no questions ask, no NSA snooping around and great transfer speeds 🙂

  12. Melisa

    OneDrive is the best deal out there. Check out it for yourself. My experience with Windows and Microsoft has been nothing but great. Always has perks here and there; whether Bing, Xbox, OneDrive, Office 365. Go Microsoft!!!!

  13. Michael Bruce Rosmer

    Some missing pieces of the puzzle here. For example, while OneDrive is cheaper at those basic levels it doesn’t allow you to purchase more storage, while Drive allows up to 16 TB and Dropbox claims to allow “as much as you need”. Drive and Dropbox also have far more third party apps and extensions built for them with a much more active developer community. OneDrive is definitely improving, until very recently I would easily dismiss them as compared with some of the competitors, now with the addition of real time co-editing that actually works and automatic photo and video uploads (slightly more granular control would still be nice ala Sugarsync such as “Use mobile data for photos but not for videos”) they are starting to get better. The ability to mount your OneDrive storage as a drive and thereby not sync the files to the computer but still use them is super useful but cumbersome. Dropbox, Drive, and OneDrive would all do well to incorporate this feature much like Sugarsync and Wuala have done given the increasing practicality of streaming content to a device rather than storing in locally and thereby enabling lower amounts of local storage space (ie. music, photos, videos, docs, etc.). These companies need to be making a push towards getting people off their free storage kick and into paid plans as an alternative to hard drive purchases.

  14. jmas

    COPY Barracuda lack undoubtedly the best …

  15. Chirag Bindal

    I have been using multiple online drives including Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive but thought of consolidating mostly to OneDrive..this article helped me with my decision. Also I have 30gb storage on OD due to my Office 365 subscription I guess and may be due to Bing rewards as well.

  16. HubbaHubbaDubbaBubba

    I have not experienced this since it was called SkyDrive. I just move my files over from my external hard drive, THEN install OneDrive and tell it to “merge”. Takes about 5 minutes and it checks all the files and is done.

  17. atrain

    I agree, there NEEDS to be a search function here. I’ve also noticed that my photo tags are not searchable. Google Drive has a look through on pictures (it reads text in photos), PDFs, and more. Seems Google Drive has more functionality but MS has a main goal of a simple hub. Need to see OneDrive build out more.

  18. Sabil V

    Use Onedrive since its launched as skydrive, and yep I think it’s the most reliable one. even on my android devices. since Drive from google ‘never’ came up into my Wp devices.

  19. Epicure

    I have tested onedrive but I found that it was not possible on an android device to view the files if you’re connected online. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems useless in my case.

  20. Epicure

    I mean : “if you’re NOT connected online”. Sorry

  21. amlyzy

    try the free application: MultCloud please: https://www.multcloud.com

  22. kwaske

    Do you work at Microsoft, or just have stock?

  23. NoName

    “Edit documents in browser” is slightly misleading — to my knowledge this is referring to a browser on a PC, not necessarily mobile browsers. For instance, OneDrive is GREAT if I want to edit Office files via my PC, but the same file can only be viewed on my tablet (even with the basic MS Office app installed – the license that should (ostensibly) allow mobile editing for full Office functionality runs an extra $100/year last I checked).

  24. kyussmondo3

    I like the look of OneDrive and have 20GB free with my Office 365 subscription but as others have said the Dropbox APIs mean that Dropbox is used in plenty of apps (I also have about 60GB on Dropbox thanks to signing in on a Samsung phone). iCloud is surprisingly good if you are in the Apple ecosystem. More apps on Mac and iOS are now supporting iCloud and it is quick and seamless which is what I want from a cloud service, I just expect it to be there and be automatic without thinking about it.

    My only wish is that Dropbox and iCloud increase their storage and drop their prices because they really do not compete with OneDrive or Google Drive in terms of price.

  25. jaffa99

    With Google drive it used to be possible to email a link which pointed to a file – it was called sharing with “anyone with the link”, now such a link recipient is prompted to log in with their google account which isn’t convenient. I want to be able to send very large files, nothing sensitive / confidential but way too big for an email attachment. So I have been forced to switch to Onedrive which has such functionality.

  26. jaffa99

    Because that would require onedrive to sync everything onto your phone/tablet which most people wouldn’t want due to limited storage and potentially excessive data charges from all the syncing.

  27. jaffa99

    While not as enthusiastic as Melisa, I have found the move from Google Drive / Docs to Office 365 with Onedrive to be very positive.

  28. peter

    Hi, I have read all the comments, but when it comes to security, do any of these listed cloud service providers offer encryption as part of the deal?

  29. Ethel Aardvaark

    Google drive integrates with ALL applications completely seamlessly, unlike OneDrive which only integrates with MS Office applications (in a rather ugly – in my opinion – way). Google works by means of a synchronised folder.

    It is also worthhighlighting the differences between the Personal OneDrive and OneDrive For Businesses. Tthe latter uses SharePoint for storage, which adds version control but imposes restrictions on file types that can be stored. It also changes the content of certain file types – mainly Office documents but also some web files. In many people’s opinion this means that the Personal offering is significantly better than the For Business offering. The For Business offering is also very poor at synchronising files via its version ofsynchronised folders – I get 2-3 errors *every day* (after using Google for 2-3 years I have not suffered a single issue.)

  30. quandry

    but which is the fastest?

  31. rony009

    Hey I had the same issue with my computer. I wasted my time on it for

    many days but finally I got a solution from this link

    http://www.microsoftliveassist.com/unable-to-connect-onedrive/

  32. AnonGuy

    Smart Files only matter on Tablets with very little storage. SSDs don’t matter. Most people are going to be running with 10-30GB of SkyDrive space, which is easily doable on a 128GB SSD, and 256GB SSDs are pretty cheap these days. That doesn’t matter.
    What does matter is how poor OneDrive is for Media Sharing compared to Google, Apple, Yahoo! and Dropbox’s services.
    So I’ve ditched it.
    Also, Google Drive is simply on a different playing field when it comes the types of files it allows you to view on it. OneDrive simply isn’t competitive there. I also find their online Document editors to perform quite a bit better than OneDrive’s Office Online (I can say the same about iWorks @ iCloud).

  33. AnonGuy

    No, the issue is it doesn’t work *at all* as a viewer. You need a third party application that supports that file type to view it. If you download a .DOCX and don’t have Office Mobile or QuickOffice or Polaris office on your phone, you’re not going to be able to see the file. In other cloud storage apps, the functionality to at least view the file is built-in. For example, Google Drive has its own Picture Viewer built into the app, while SkyDrive will download the entire file to your device and then look for another application that can view it.
    Its a design tradeoff. On one end, you have a smaller app with less code that requires less device storage. On the other hand, it defeats those advantages itself by forcing you to look to third parties to view something like an Office Document, which Microsoft should easily be able to implement in their own app.
    Personally I don’t use OneDrive on my Phone anymore, or for anything. I don’t think they are that serious about providing the kind of Value Google and Apple delivers to their users. I’ve even started Dabbling with Google Docs, and it actually isn’t that bad!

  34. AnonGuy

    Drive does seem to Upload and Download files faster than OneDrive. Not sure why, but OneDrive has consistently been slower for me – sometimes very noticeably so. I’ve never had those issues with Drive and that’s one of the main reasons why I moved everything out of the Microsoft ecosystem and onto Google’s.

  35. jaffa99

    I understand your point but it has limited validity, there are lots of file types that Google Drive doesn’t support – even for viewing. MS Office is not a ‘free’ app, it is available to buy and when you buy it the MS onedrive / MS office combination works very well on desktop or (Android) mobile. Google drive & Google Docs are ‘free’ (up to a point) but this is reflected in the level of functionality available.

    Please don’t assume I’m a huge MS fan, I’m heavily entrenched in the Google infrastructure, my business uses Googles (paid-for) business email service and we really tried to use Docs (again the paid business service) but we couldn’t make Docs work because it’s too basic, it is like using a 10-year old version of open-office, initially it looks complete but some valuable functionality is missing.

    I hope Google develop Docs as I would love to move some people onto Chromebooks with Google Docs & Google Drive for storage – I’ll save a fortune – but it isn’t a viable proposition yet & the reason we moved back to Office was that Google don’t seem interested in doing anything about it – they’re just not serious about the product.

  36. jaffa99

    Both are intrusive regarding their consumption of resources, particularly Onedrive for a few minutes after first starting up the PC. I wish I could adjust a setting so it used less processor time when the computer is busy and more when it is idle.

    I also used Google Drive for years, syncing my files across 3 windows PC’s. During that time I had several occasions where I had to disconnect and entirely re-sync a computer because that PC went into a state where it was constantly “scanning web” (for changes). When this happened the syncing stops and the resources of the affected PC are consumed by Google Drive. This is not a trivial matter when you have 50+Gb of data to re-sync each time.

    There were lots of entries about this problem on the Google Drive forums but little response from Google (thanks for your feedback – we’re looking into this – highfive……….etc). I was paying for the service and not getting any useful information. Ultimately it was the lack of communication that led me to investigate other options. So far (3 months in) MS Onedrive has been fine – I’ve probably just jinxed it.

  37. Kaoushik

    one drive much better than g drive

  38. Henry

    Guys, check out the cloud service Copy. I use both OneDrive and Copy currently, but Copy offers you more space for free. Both are good and both come with the desktop client to sync your files to their cloud servers. Check it out and use this link to sign up for Copy to get 20GB free instead of the regular 15GB

    https://copy.com?r=DFygGq

  39. rudeboyrg errr.. Bill Gates

    I am Bill Gates and I approve this message.

  40. osin17

    Onedrive has now 15gb free storage

  41. Kevin Byrne

    Well one difference is that Dropbox acts like an additional drive, and syncs quickly. Google Drive is notorious for slow syncing, and OneDrive doesn’t sync folders at all–even if you pay for a subscription.

  42. mareks .

    The cost is the biggest problem with Dropbox, not $99 as in the above table but €9,99 a month for 100 GB ($134). At least in EU.

  43. Forest

    Dropbox has a Public folder, great api for developers, file revisions, selective folder sync of the local folder and any content can be shared if you want.

  44. JB

    This needs to compare maximum file size. OneDrive is only 2GB where Dropbox is unlimited – up to your storage limit. Right now, this is the only thing that keeps me from moving everything from Dropbox to OneDrive.

  45. gordonbp

    OneDrive has had its storage upped to 15GB in the last month.

  46. Brett Phipps

    He’s talking about individual file sizes, not total file size

  47. veeru789

    is onedrive more secured or Box.net?

  48. phurr

    one terabyte

  49. boggy4062

    Now it is 10 GB per file. I don’t know WHY I would want to do it in a country where all ISPs limit the monthly transfer to 250 GB per line… but again…

  50. Charles White

    when we store a pptx slideshow on one drive the internal links work just fine.
    With drop box and google drive NONE of the internal links work…not to
    a website, a pdf file or even an internal image link

  51. Manish Shah

    Another option that is not discussed which I love is
    http://www.fileapartment.com – it’s simply a better solution. $3.99/mo
    for unlimited storage with a 7-day free trial, you can’t beat that.

  52. Will

    I love how someone in my online cloud class just copied and pasted this into one of our discussions
    LOL should I call him out

  53. Atul Madan

    Can onedrive back up many versions of the same file

  54. cpu-world yaru

    selling 1TB cloud. download speed better than the Chinese services. no monthly payment
    cheap.
    cpu-world@ya.ru

  55. Krishnendu Laha

    One drive is the best
    love it…………..

  56. Mark Miller

    Vasudev this is a great article thanks very much. One query I have is for the files which get saved to OneDrive – is the ‘original’ metadata also saved – eg the date when a particular photo was taken or document created (not just the date it was saved to OneDrive). I ‘think’ that Google Drive does not do this. Its important for me to be able to tell when photo was taken. Many thanks!

  57. PicBackMan

    Out of all the cloud accounts compared above, Google Drive is much more affordable service than any other

  58. BornInAlberta

    Onedrive is bullshit because Microsoft has forgotten what good architecture is. I have onedrive on my laptop and my ipad. I have SQL queries stored on onedrive. I have an app on my ipad call SQL Studio. Can I make it them work together. Hell No!. Good Architecture means that you don’t have to have every potential program that you want to work with do custom freaking coding to work with your service. This is complete bullshit!

  59. Matthew Blake Coleman

    I am a new user and find it to be a lot easier to maneuver. I know I will continue to learn new features and benefits. Thanks for the article and especially the chart comparison.

  60. Liliya Nikolova

    OneDrive and DropBox actually give you the possibility to save and share more-less any type of files (i.e. not the commonly used Word, Excel, etc. but Smart Notebook, Origin, etc.) while iCloud is extremely limited to text, spread sheets, presentation or just notes type files. Even google docs offers much more than iCloud. More-less I’ve been forced to use iPads but their capabilities to share are actually quite limited due to the iCloud domain. Though the iPads show that one can save files on DropBox or Google Drive, it does not work and your only option is iCloud which is useless if you want to run a class or share your experimental data. Anyway I’m not impressed with Apple products as they limit me (close too many doors instead of opening them). So far OneDrive is the easiest and convenient way to do your work.

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