iCloud vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive vs. Dropbox

June 4th, 2014 by Sam Rutherford


There’s an estimated 1 exabyte worth of data being stored in the cloud. That’s more than 1 million gigabytes. So it’s little wonder all the major names are constantly evolving their services, hoping to keep users and attract new ones. With the announcement of new pricing for its iCloud service, Apple hopes to keep the iOS faithful backed up everywhere, and possibly lure more folks to its side. But Apple still must compete with Dropbox, Google and Microsoft, just to name a few. 

So which cloud service is the best deal? Here’s our pricing breakdown.

MORE: iOS 8: Top 10 New Features


To help you pick the right cloud service, let’s start by examining the basics of what each service offers. What exactly do you get for your money? Note: Apple’s new iCloud pricing won’t take affect until this fall. 

  Apple iCloud (current) Apple iCloud (future) Microsoft OneDrive Google Drive Dropbox
Free 5GB 5GB 15GB (8GB bonus for signing up) 15GB 2GB free (up to 16GB with referrals)
20GB $3.33/month or $40/year $0.99/month  Free with Office 365 subscription ($6.99 per month)  Not Available Not Available  
50GB $8.33/month or $100/year  Not Available $2.08/month or $25/year Not Available   Not Available
100GB  Not Available  Not Available $4.16/month or $50/year $1.99/month $9.99/month
200GB Not Available  $3.99/month $8.33/month or $100/year Not Available  $19.99/month or $199.99/year
1TB or higher  Not Available Unannounced OneDrive for business/$2.50 per user/month $9.99/month $15 per user/month for unlimited storage
Platforms Windows, Mac, iOS Windows, Mac, iOS Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Win Phone Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

If free is the right price for your online storage needs, you’re best bets are Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Dropbox could be great — 16GB beats everyone — but to get all that space you’ll need to refer 28 other people to try Dropbox. 

Apple offers a 20GB option of cloud storage. So if that is your sweet spot it will cost you $0.99 per month. Microsoft offers this amount free with an Office 365 subscription, but that costs at least $6.99 per month for one person. With the next tier up — 50GB — Apple gets some competition from Microsoft. But Microsoft’s service is so much cheaper at $25. 

Google, Microsoft and Dropbox all compete in the 100GB space, with the best deal going to Google Drive at $1.99 per month. But for 200GB you’ll get the best price per gigabyte from Apple’s new iCloud pricing structure, which will run you $3.99 per month. Google and Dropbox don’t offer options in this size range. 

Once you get to the 1TB range, you get much more business-focused plans. Google offers 1TB for 9.99 a month. Onedrive (coming soon) and Dropbox instead charge based on the number of total users at $2.50 and $15 per user respectively. Apple has not yet announced a price for its 1TB option. 


icloud 100x100iCloud 

The current services offered by iCloud include photo and content sharing, Find my iPhone, iWork integration, iCloud Keychain and backups for mail, calendar, contacts and storage. More features are coming in the fall with iCloud Drive and iOS 8, promising drag and drop syncing, simultaneous multi-app editing and family sharing. This will also coincide with better prices and options for storage and more robust sharing features, especially for iOS users. However, there is no support for Android, at least not yet. 

google drive macGoogle Drive 

Google’s cloud services feature a combination of cheap storage and office production software for creating documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, drawings and folders with simple sharing. Their free Google Drive app adds drag and drop syncing and the flexibility to continue working even when offline. Drive is also integrated with Gmail for seamless saving of files and attachments. One unique feature for Drive will help you go paperless by allowing your Android device to scan documents and automatically convert them to PDFs. Photo and media sharing is possible, but better when paired with partner apps like Picasa and Google+.

onedrive 15 100x100OneDrive 

Microsoft’s cloud solution is most similar to Google Drive, in that it also offers storage combined with integration of their Office suite for online and offline editing, co-authoring and syncing. Microsoft does make considerations for photo sharing with online and email slideshow but pale in comparison to more mainstream photo apps. Since OneDrive is built into Windows 8, users also have exclusive access to features like smart syncing, camera roll and PC backup and Windows Store integration. The 20GB of storage on OneDrive comes free with a subscription to Office 365 (starting at $6.99 per month for 1 person). 

dropbox nook iconDropbox 

Dropbox does one thing and does it well. It provides virtual  synced storage that will hold anything you put in your folders, for easy sharing and retrieval on any machine. A bonus feature is Dropbox Camera Upload which automatically syncs photos from your camera, phone or tablet through the Dropbox app, PC or Mac. You can upgrade to pro for more storage and business for better support, multi-user management and enhanced security. Like Google and Microsoft, the Dropbox service supports every major platform, including Windows, OS X, iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Bottom Line

Google Drive is currently the most popular service (who doesn’t have a Gmail account?) and makes creating and sharing across every platform a breeze. Microsoft is attempting to get more traction for OneDrive. With the release and integration with Office 365 you can bet the company will be shifting more focus to their cloud services. Google Drive and OneDrive’s integration with productivity software separates it from Dropbox.

Dropbox is the simplest cloud service to use and platform agnostic, as its sole purpose is easy-to-use storage and sharing. Apple is taking a somewhat different path with iCloud, combining behind-the-scenes media and document syncing across multiple devices with an upcoming iCloud Drive option that will give users the drag-and-drop and organization features competitors already offer.

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Seagate to Discontinue 7,200-RPM Drives, Will Others Follow?

March 4th, 2013 by Meghan McDonough

The race for faster data access has a casualty. AnandTech got wind of a report from X-bit Labs that Seagate will discontinue its 2.5-inch laptop-size 7,200-rpm hard drives by the end of this year. The move comes as prices for solid state drives continue to fall while offering more storage space. Seagate currently has three 7,200-rpm drives on the market, the Momentus 7200.4, 7200.2 and Momentus Thin 7200, and one hybrid drive, the Momentus XT. This drive combines a 7,200-rpm drive with 8GB of SLC NAND for caching.

This news does make us a bit sad, because we’ve always enjoyed the combination of disk size, speed and price that 7,200-rpm drives offered compared with their slower 5,400-rpm cousins. Granted, SSDs will smoke almost any 7,200-rpm drive in a data access race, but 7,200-rpm drives have a much more reasonable price per gigabyte.   Read the rest of this entry »

HP Pocket Playlist Records Netflix and Hulu, Streams to Five Devices

January 7th, 2013 by Brad Chacos, LAPTOP Contributor

Wi-Fi-enabled storage devices aren’t anything new, but HP’s just-announced at CES 2013 Pocket Playlist introduces an intriguing twist to the now-familiar formula. At a basic level, the Pocket Playlist packs enough portable storage to hold 16 full-length movies, 7,600 songs or 10,000 photos. Cool, but ho-hum.

The secret sauce lies in the Pocket Playlist’s ability to stream said content to up to five simultaneous device via a direct Wi-Fi connection — no Internet service required — and the inclusion of a one-month subscription to the PlayLater app, which brings the world of online video to your offline Pocket Playlist.

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Acer Adds iOS Support to AcerCloud Service Plus Remote Files App

January 7th, 2013 by Daniel P. Howley, LAPTOP Senior Writer

AcerCloud, Acer’s personal cloud storage service, is making its way to the top three mobile operating systems this year. The service, which allows users to save files of all types on their home PC and access them via a Web connection, is expanding its cross-platform support to iOS, meaning users will be able to share files across their Android, iOS and Windows devices.

For those unfamiliar with the service, AcerCloud allows you to set a PC as a primary storage device, which can then be accessed by other Web-connected, AcerCloud-enabled devices. Previously, users were only able to access their files on their PCs and Android devices. Read the rest of this entry »

Adata Unveils 128GB SSD for Just $99

October 16th, 2012 by Brad Chacos, LAPTOP Contributor

Do you have a need for computing speed, but find yourself grounded with a pokey mechanical hard drive ? If so, Adata’s new entry-level SP600 SSD may just be the wallet-friendly flash storage you’ve been waiting for. At $99.99, the Adata SP600 sports one of the lowest non-sale price tags we’ve seen on a 128GB SSD.

Of course, hitting that low of a base price entails some sacrifice; the SP600’s 360MB/s read and 130MB/s write times won’t come close to challenging the top-notch Samsung 830 Series or OCZ Vertex 4 SSDs of the world, but it provides a big boost in boot and file access times when compared to traditional hard drives. The Adata SP600 packs a SATA 3.0 6Gbps interface with random read/write IOPS of 40k/30k.

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ADATA Outs Super-Thin, Stainless Steel USB 3.0 External Hard Drive

September 27th, 2012 by Brad Chacos, LAPTOP Contributor

Thin is in, and not just when it comes to smartphones. This morning, ADATA announced the DashDrive Elite HE720, a slim and trim USB 3.0 external hard drive that ADATA says is the thinnest of its kind at just over a third of an inch thick.

The brushed stainless steel exterior keeps things simple, sporting a blue LED and an ADATA logo but little else. The metal is covered by a thin protective layer rated at 9H hardness to prevent scratching over the long haul. (Maybe Apple should take note?)

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Speed and Storage: Toshiba Outs Its First Hybrid Hard Drives

September 25th, 2012 by Brad Chacos, LAPTOP Contributor

Modern day hard drive shoppers find themselves with a not-so-easy choice: should you go for the blazing fast boot and response times of an SSD, or the much larger storage capacity (and much lower cost) of a traditional mechanical hard drive? Toshiba’s new MQ01ABDH Hybrid Drive mixes the best of both worlds in a single drive bay.

The 2.5-inch MQ01ABDH Hybrid Drive is a mechanical hard drive with 8GB of baked-in NAND flash to speed up the operation of your most frequently used programs, which are automatically identified by Toshiba’s self-learning cache software. SATA 3.0 compatibility ensures that transfer speeds won’t bottle neck the NAND-enhanced speeds.

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Google I/O Day 2: Offline Editable Google Docs, Chrome for iOS, Super Computing Tool

June 28th, 2012 by Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director

Google I/O Day 2 Keynote

Yesterday at its I/O developer conference, Google  unveiled a number of new products, including its first-ever Nexus branded tablet, but it kept a few announcements in reserve for day two. On Thursday morning, the company showed off a number of new tools and services, including iOS versions of its popular Chrome browser, offline editing capability for Google Docs and Google Compute Engine, a cloud-based super computer system for developers.

Google SVP Vic Gondotra took the stage at around 10:06 a.m., wearing a pair of light blue Project Glass goggles. He immediately thanked the crowd for a great first day and an even better first night party, where attendees enabled the new Google+ party mode and uploaded over 13,000 images of the event.  Read the rest of this entry »

ADATA’s New mSATA SSDs Play Nice with Traditional Hard Drives

June 19th, 2012 by Brad Chacos, LAPTOP Contributor

Few things can breathe new life into a laptop faster than swapping out a hard disk drive for a solid state drive, but ADATA’s hedging its bets with a pair of new mSATA-compatible notebook SSDs announced today. While SSDs are fast, HDDs traditionally offer larger storage capacities, and some users may not want to exchange space for speed.

One possible solution: using an SSD as a caching drive that handles the most commonly used files as a supplement to an HDD. Everyday tasks get an SSD-powered boost in speed while rarely used files get stored in a spacious HDD repository. Wah-lah! Problem solved.

ADATA’s new XPG SX300 and Premier Pro SP300 SSDs feature Intel’s Smart Response Technology to automatically manage which files become cached on the SSD and which files get stashed on the hard drive.

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New Seagate Backup Plus Drives Bring A Social Twist To Storage

June 12th, 2012 by Brad Chacos, LAPTOP Contributor

Today, Seagate launched a new series of external hard drives that continue the proud GoFlex tradition, but with a few new features and a totally new name: the Seagate Backup Plus line.

The biggest twist is social media integration; Seagate is calling the Backup Plus line “the world’s first external hard drives to provide backup for content on social networks.” The newly refined Seagate Dashboard interface can save pictures from Flickr or Facebook account with a single click, while a separate “Share” button helps you easily upload photos and videos from your Backup Plus drive to either of those networks, as well as YouTube.

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