Cloud Services Compared: Google Drive vs. Dropbox, SkyDrive and iCloud

Google Drive screenshot

Following months of speculation, Google’s Drive finally made its big debut earlier today. So how does the service stack up against the competition? As it turns out, pretty well. For starters Google Drive offers the largest amount of storage for free with 5GB of space dedicated to Drive and another 10GB of space going to Gmail.

SkyDrive, meanwhile, offers 7GB of storage, as well as 5GB of storage through Windows Live Mesh. Apple’s iCloud offers up 5GB of storage, while Dropbox provides 2GB.

Google Drive also crushes the competition when it comes to total amount of storage space available for purchase with a staggering 16TB of space. The closest the competition comes is 100GB, which is offered by both Dropbox and SkyDrive. Apple’s iCloud only offers 50GB. With that said, Google is the only service that is geared specifically to both everyday consumers and enterprises.

[Who Will Win the Cloud War: Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft]

Each service makes your data available offline, and is capable of automatically syncing files across multiple devices. Google’s Drive does, however, allow users to upload a larger maximum file size than its competition, 10GB versus a standard 2GB, and gives you the ability to share and edit documents with other users simultaneously. And while SkyDrive does offer simultaneous editing, users can’t track each others’ edits in real time like you can with Google Drive.

So far it looks like Google Drive is the new cloud service to beat. Check out our chart below for a more in-depth look at how Drive stacks up with the competition.

Feature Google Drive Dropbox SkyDrive iCloud
Free Storage Capacity 5GB 2GB 7GB 5GB
Maximum Storage Capacity 16TB 100GB 100GB 50GB
Synchronization Yes Yes Yes Yes
Offline Capability Yes Yes Yes Yes
Folder Sharing Yes Yes Yes No
Mobile App Android (iPhone, iPad upcoming) iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad iPhone, iPad
Data Encryption Yes SSL and AES-256 bit SSL and encryption SSL and encryption
Edit Simultaneously Yes No Yes No
Track Versions Yes Yes Yes No
Maximum File Size 10GB 2GB 2GB N/A (files automatically synced)
Special Features Open over 30 files types in the browser, including HD video, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop — even if you don’t have the program installed on your computer; Share files from a variety of apps directly in Google Drive. Google is also releasing the SDK for Drive, meaning 3rd-party developers will be able to create apps for the service.   Users can fetch content from PC at home, even if it’s not stored on SkyDrive; multiple copies of each file saved on different servers and hard drives to protect data from hardware failure All music, television shows and movies purchased through iTunes are saved in your iTunes account and can be quickly redownloaded to and iTunes compatible device.
AUTHOR BIO
Daniel P. Howley
Daniel P. Howley
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining Laptopmag.com. He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
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  1. Kaya Ismail Says:

    For me, it’s all about DropBox. It’s so easy to use and access. Obviously iCloud is great for iPhone users, but we don’t actually ‘use’ it. It’s more of a background application we never see.

    DropBox all the way thanks!

  2. Hugo Says:

    Comparing iCloud to google drive or to Dropbox is very misleading since iCloud offers more than just document synching. Like synching of the address book, calendar, apps, songs purchased on iTunes, automatical upload from pictures, emails… Also the photos, apps and music do not count in the 5 Gb limit, which leaves a lot of space for documents and mails… On the other hand it doesn’t offer any document sharing or tools for simultaneous editing. So it’s two completely different offers. But the combination of iCloud and Dropbox is very very hard to beat.

  3. nlm Says:

    Since each have different features/advantages/disadvantages, it comes down to which is best suited for you, rather than which is ‘better’. For example while iCloud does not count photos within the 5gb limit, only the first 1000 photos/those within a 30 day period are stored, after which they are replaced automatically meaning you have to do some monthly file management, or not if you are not a heavy photo user. See what I mean, right there that is a limitation or a non-consequence to some.

    Also I was under the impression that Google Drive’s storage is 5gb, not 10gb and is thus less than the 7gb from SkyDrive. Also if you have an existing hotmail account, you can upgrade free to 25gb of storage.

  4. HeCareth Says:

    iCloud is Apples full line of cloud services for syncing everything on an IOS device, so you must compare it to Google’s full line of cloud services. For photos and video Apple has Photostream Google has Google+ Photos (Picasa). Music and Paid Content Apple has iTunes and Google has Play Music and Play Video. For documents Apple has Documents in the Cloud and Google has Google Docs built into Google Drive. Apple introduced Apps, Books, and Contact, Mail, Calendar, and backup with iOS5, while Google has been running this services on Android since inception through Google Contacts, Mail, Books, and the Android Market (Play Store). Finally Apples has Find my Friends which is basically the same thing as Google Latitude. Apple additionally has a built in Find my Phone feature which is a third Party application for Android.

    In the end it is preference, but Google has a huge lead on Apple in terms of their cloud services, especially the fact that it works across platforms. I could have a Windows PC, Apple iPad, and Android Phone and use Googles cloud services with ease. Using Apples cloud services works best when you own Apple devices across the board.

  5. rambo Says:

    All cloud service are f**k without high speed internet connection, batter go and buy memory or pen drive, good bye to cloud store which cannot be accessed when internet failure

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