iCloud vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive vs. Dropbox

cloud_lead

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

Pricing

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. 

Features

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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Sam Rutherford
Sam Rutherford
Sam is a former penguin trainer and archery instructor who dabbles in esports and has lived on three different continents. If you have some comments on new tech or the best noodles spots in NYC, drop a line @SamRutherford.
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  1. Cheapskate Says:

    I feel like the analysis here is a bit flawed. If price is your only concern as postulated, it is clear as day that google (or Microsoft for the free version, even dropbox if you want to refer all those people) is the way to go.

  2. Productivity Says:

    If you are interested in productivity, Microsoft’s OneDrive is clearly the best choice. Office 2010 and 2013 works with it, and, as we all know, Microsoft Office is the best office software on the market. Even if you don’t own a copy of Office 2010 and 2013, the Office Online Apps are still amazing.

  3. Clive Sinclair Says:

    For price the latest Google Drive is unbeatable. iCloud is of no use to anyone except if you use iOS/OSX devices.

    Onedrive is well integrated and is truly cross platform.

    It’s down to who you trust the most Google or Microsoft. Having tried both I’ve gone for Microsoft – after having their knuckles wrapped over privacy, them seem to be more upfront on how they ‘interact’ with a customers stored data.

  4. johncloud Says:

    Hubic provide 25Gb for free and 10Tb for 10Euros per month!

    And they are compatible with a lot of platforms!

  5. Antsa Says:

    Nice table for starting the cloud.
    Thinking about cromebooks? Yes google is ok. but what about other services in Cloud?

  6. Gushter Says:

    In my experience, having used all of the services, Onedrive is the most flexible to use. It is truly cross-platform, allows traditional drag and drop and the integration is solid.

    iCloud is just a backup service, useless otherwise. Google is flexible but they really made it complicated recently… for example for pictures you have Picasa, web albums, Google+, and Gdrive, where exactly should you store your pictures? A solid benefit of Google, or rather Picasa, is that you can view your pictures on many SmartTVs, which is great for sharing.

  7. billy Says:

    You should mention dropbox gives you a ton load more space just by installing their app (i think that was what it was.) Anyway, i have 80gigs and it is free and all i had to do was install their android app or tell a friend or something. i can’t remember.

    My point is, your chart is misleading and you should do a little more homework.

  8. Aernout Says:

    Nice chart. I am considering using Google Drive or MS OneDrive for the amount of free space. Dropbox is a great service, but the space is limited (unless you go through their referral trouble).

    @billy: your homework is misleading.
    I had a ton of (temporary) space with dropbox too after installing their app on android. Today it expired and now I am back at 5GB.

  9. Daniele Says:

    Hubic is the cheapest but is the wrost in terms of management (the android app always crashes and doesn’t provide automatic upload of videos).
    OneDrive now has the same prices as gDrive and provide automatic syncing of photos and video. On the opposite Side gDrive sync photos and videos but only through google+ and this is a real shame because you don’t have physical files and how the photo are organized between album, automaticbackup, picasa and “all photo”, well…only google knows!
    OneDrive and Dropbox for me are the best. They both provide the same thing and also if OnDrive can’t has the limit of 2gb per file, it is cheaper then dropbox…so I think it should be the final choose. (I don’t know anything about icloud)

  10. JAke Says:

    You forgot mention that dropbox has native support for linux, when others rely on third party apps to provide support to linux.

  11. larrymcj Says:

    I have to agree with Productivity here. I am a Mac user, have OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive, yet I choose OneDrive for almost everything I put into the Cloud. Apple’s iCloud is simply never going to fly given it’s inability to even allow subfolders.

    As a Mac user, I still have to use Microsoft Office, and I now use Office 365 and agree the Office Online Apps are really useful.

    All this said, try the speed test. Just play around with moving things around from place to place within OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox. OneDrive clearly wins and the structure looks most like what you have on a computer.

  12. Hector Says:

    Now OneDrive offers 1TB with an Office 365 subscription =)

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