Understanding the Minor Differences Between Google Drive and Dropbox

While perusing the headlines and posts detailing today's release of Google Drive, Google's cloud-based storage service, many compare the service the another popular cloud storage service, Dropbox. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .

While perusing the headlines and posts detailing today's release of Google Drive, Google's cloud-based storage service, many compare the service the another popular cloud storage service, Dropbox. Google drive "will present a big threat to dropbox" writes Gizmodo's Leslie Horn contradicting The Next Web's headline "Don't Call it a Dropbox Killer." All that death talk is just punditry. Cloud storage technology probably can't kill, anyway. But, Drive provides an alternative, even providing some things Dropbox does not. For those looking to maybe switch over or get into the cloud storage game, we've broken down the key differences between the two services:

Basic Functionality

Dropbox: From the Dropbox site: "Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. " And that's basically it, as the video on the site explains. The service allows users to store stuff on the cloud (ie. the interwebs) meaning access anywhere. Also, the service provides easy sharing between Dropboxers.

Google Drive: Same idea, Google Drive allows users to store their stuff in the cloud, meaning they can get it anywhere and share it with other Google Drive users across the Internet. A big bonus of a service like this is it allows for sharing of a lot of stuff a lot easier than email. From the Google promotional video:"Forget files being too big to e-mail." Dropbox works like that, too, of course. But coming from our email service, it sounds nicer.

Here's a different video on how it works. Looks very easy and intuitive.


Dropbox: The site says the service offers up to 18 GB of free space, which is a lot, but a little misleading. New sign-ups get 2GB of gratis space and then an extra 500 MB for each referral. That's about 500 songs worth of free space. After that, though, Dropbox starts charging $9.99/month for 50 GB or $19.99 for 100 GB.

Google Drive: Cheapos get more free storage than Dropbox offers, providing 5GB for zero dollars. After that, the pricing's still way cheaper than Dropbox, with Google offering 25GB for $2.49 a month, 100GB for $4.99 a month.

Service Draws

Dropbox: 45 million people already use Dropbox. It's already available on smartphones. Inertia's a good enough reason not to migrate. Also, these are the types of services that have more value the more people use them. If all of one's friends are Dropboxing things, it makes the service more valuable for that person. 45 million friends are already using Dropbox, why be the lone migrant?

Google Drive: Drive's available an all the same platforms as Dropbox, besides iOS, which we hear is coming soon. And, for Google users, which, despite Google's despotism of late, a lot of us are, Google Drive will fit right into our Google lives. That makes it more than a storage and sharing tool. For example, one can edit documents using Google Docs, while sharing those documents in Google Drive. Though, as AllThingsD's Walt Mossberg notes, this editing thing only works for Google Docs, documents. "If your stored document is in a Microsoft Office format, you can only view it. To edit it, you have to click a command to convert the file to Google’s own formats, or choose a setting that converts Microsoft Office files when uploaded. But this latter feature only works when uploading from the website," he writes. (This is clearly part of Google's super-integration Internet domination plans.) There's also a bit of that Google Search magic we love to much in there, allowing users to search and filter stored stuff. Though, Google warns this tech is still in development.


Dropbox: The service isn't exactly intuitive. But, we're used to it at this point.

Google Drive: It looks like Google Docs, something we're already used to. And, again, that integration is nice, as LifeHacker's Whitson Gordon explains. "What's really cools is that drive will automatically use optical character recognition (OCR) to read your scanned PDFs and other files, so that you can search for text within those files, even if they're just scanned images. It'll also use Google Images to scan your images, so that searching for, say, "Eiffel Tower", will bring up your photo of the Eiffel Tower you took last summer," he notes.

We can't say if all that makes Drive the type of ferocious beast that will finish the competition. But, for those who haven't taken the cloud storage leap, looks like starting out on Drive makes more sense than opening a brand-new Dropbox account.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.