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Dropbox Vs. Google Drive Vs. SkyDrive - Which Cloud Storage is the Best?

Dropbox Vs. Google Drive Vs. SkyDrive - Which Cloud Storage is the Best?

A parameter by parameter comparison between the three best cloud storage services out there - Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive. Read. Evaluate. Decide.
Shreyas Bhide
If you do not want to loosen your purse strings, get an account on Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive, and distribute your data amongst the three. Put together, they give you 24GB free cloud storage.
Nowadays, we are handling multiple computers, multiple platforms, and are increasingly going online. When meeting, shopping, and even dating went online, could simple data storage be far behind? Moving data across locations and platforms is a difficult and tedious task. It is for this reason that cloud storage is gaining significant importance. Cloud storage services provide portability across platforms without having to carry the data physically. Thus, remote access is possible within secure parameters. The increasing need for seamless data sharing and remote access is making cloud storage services one of the fastest growing web services today.
Amongst the most popular cloud storage services, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft's SkyDrive are arguably the leaders of the pack. Hence, the obvious query that pokes many brains who want to jump aboard the cloud storage bandwagon is which cloud storage is the best? Techspirited gives you a lowdown of the three services, and compares their performance.
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storage
STORAGE
Storage Cost DROPBOX GOOGLE DRIVE SKYDRIVE
FREE 2 GB* 15 GB 7 GB

*Apart from the 2 GB to start off with, Dropbox offers more free space through user referrals, camera uploads, beta testing, etc. Any HTC device comes with 25 GB of free Dropbox storage for two years.

All the three services offer premium storage plans for a price; subscriptions are monthly or annual.
DROPBOX
DROPBOX (monthly plans)
100 GB $ 9.99
200 GB $ 19.99
500 GB $ 49.99
DROPBOX (annual plans)
100 GB $ 99.00
200 GB $ 199.00
500 GB $ 499.00

Additionally, Dropbox offers many business plans for teams. All data is synced, sharable, collaborated, and user management tools are available. Live support is available for technical queries. Plans are available for teams ranging from 5 - 250 members, and pricing starts from $795/year.
GOOGLE DRIVE
GOOGLE DRIVE (monthly plans)
100 GB $ 4.99
200 GB $ 9.99
400 GB $ 19.99
1 TB $ 49.99
2 TB $ 99.99
4 TB $ 199.99
8 TB $ 399.99
16 TB $ 799.99

Note: Google Drive's premium plans do not include the additional free storage. For example, if you buy 100 GB cloud storage, your initial free offering of 15 GB is taken away and all the data is transferred to the premium cloud you paid for.
Google Drive also offers business plans. A business administrator can purchase Google Drive storage licenses and allot them to his users. The sum total of all these storage licenses is the total amount of storage available for the business. The business administrator uses a Google Admin Console to administer his users and their activities.
SKYDRIVE
SKYDRIVE (annual plans)
20 GB $ 10.00
50 GB $ 25.00
100 GB $ 50.00

Business/Group plans are not available on Skydrive as yet. This is one aspect where Skydrive is beaten by the other two.

FEATURES
FEATURES DROPBOX GOOGLE DRIVE SKYDRIVE
Version History
(Recover Deleted Files)
YES
(30 Days)
YES
(30 Days)
YES
(30 Days)
Selective Syncing
(Remote Access Control)
YES YES NO
Events Tracking
(Monitor File Operations)
YES YES NO
Synchronization
(System-to-Cloud Sync)
Customizable Customizable All data on a PC
can be synced
Sharing
(Share Files from Cloud)
Non-Customizable Customizable Customizable
Document Editing
(Online Document Editor)
Not Available Google Docs MS Office Web Apps
Additional Features Facebook Groups
Integration
Google Services
Integration,
Open Drive file search
None

SPEED
This speed test involved uploading and downloading a 50 MB zipped folder containing a mix of text documents, spreadsheets, images, and audio files. The test was run using Google Chrome with 4.94 Mbps download and 5.74 Mbps upload speeds. Speed results may vary according to system specifications, browser performance and Internet speed. The following test should strictly be treated as representative and not as a solid proof of any parameter.

Speed Check DROPBOX GOOGLE DRIVE SKYDRIVE
Average Upload Speed 15m16s 10m13s 09m01s
Average Download Speed 13m46s 15m45s 19m14s

SUPPORT
File Support
Dropbox does not support file types. The user needs to download the files to his computer and run the appropriate program that supports them. SkyDrive, on the other hand, supports all Microsoft documents using Microsoft Office Web Apps. SkyDrive also has support for .mp4 and .wmv media file types. The winner in this category though, clearly, is Google Drive. Apart from support for Microsoft Office files (which need to be converted to .gdoc and opened in Google Docs), Google Drive supports .pdf, .odf, .rtf, .psd, .dwg, and .dxf files. Quite a large range that!
Platform Support
Dropbox is the only cloud storage that supports Linux and Blackberry OS. Brownie points for that. While all three services have been made available on iOS, Windows OS, Mac OS, and Android, SkyDrive is the only cloud service that is supported by Windows Phone. Although, Dropbox can run on Windows phones via third-party apps, not having official support is certainly a bummer.

VERDICT
DROPBOX Very Good
GOOGLE DRIVE Excellent
SKYDRIVE Average

Google Drive looks like the clear winner. Although slightly laggard in the speed department, Google's bag of features is vast. Additionally, since most people use Google and Gmail almost everyday, it is good to have cloud storage synced with those accounts. Google's biggest stride ahead is its support for a vast number of file types. Compared to Dropbox and SkyDrive, Google is also cheaper if you buy a premium plan. Dropbox, on the other hand is the sleekest of them all. The user interface is simple, but engaging and the service is rather quick. Of course, better file support and more free storage space would have been a blessing, but you can always get more through beta-testing, referrals, etc. SkyDrive offers a large amount of space (compared to Dropbox's 2 GB, 7GB is brilliant to start off with), but it needs to catch up with the other two. More features, better speed, and stronger security is the need of the hour, and Microsoft should have realized it by now. SkyDrive has been integrated with Microsoft's new cool e-mail service Outlook.com. And if you too are hooked on to Outlook.com, like I am, believe me, SkyDrive integration comes as a blessing.
If you are a user who needs basic storage, Dropbox is the best bet. For a slightly more advanced option, Google Drive is the way to go. If you are using Windows Phone, on the other hand, a SkyDrive account is a must, since Windows Phone does not support the other two. On the whole, Google Drive is the winner closely followed by Dropbox and then SkyDrive. Choose which one you want to opt for according to what your need is. What suits you best should be your winner.