Cloud Storage: Should You Use Dropbox, Google Drive, or Something Else?
There are a plethora of cloud storage options today. Between Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon, Box, building your own cloud, and many other options, you might have a tough time navigating to which cloud storage service is right for your business. I use the cloud every day for my freelancing writing business, and have some insights on which cloud storage works best in different scenarios. Here are some of the best options for each cloud storage provider today.
Dropbox: Best for general files and sharing
Dropbox is my go-to online storage system. While I had a Box.net account first, Dropbox was the first app that really got me into cloud storage. I had a free account for years, but recently upgraded to the paid Dropbox Plus version with 1TB of included online storage after overfilling my Dropbox and backup drives too many times. I currently have about 100GB in my Dropbox. Dropbox Plus costs $9.99 per month or $99 per year. (I went with the annual version to save $20 per year)
Dropbox is amazing because it syncs files between all of your computers and devices and allows sharing to anyone else. I backup all of my freelance articles that I write in Word in my Dropbox folder, plus I have backups of website projects, personal files, business files, and collaborations I’ve worked on with others through powerful Dropbox shared folder features.
The basic version is free and can handle anything most freelancers or online solo business owners need. For more space and collaboration features, you can upgrade to a paid account. Dropbox also offers business specific accounts with varying rates per user depending on your business needs.
Like the others in this list, you can signup and get most features for free with 2GB of storage to get you started.
Google Drive: Best for photos and Google Docs collaboration
From the big G comes Google Drive. If you use Gmail or any other product, you already have Google Drive, which comes with 15GB of free storage space. Your Google Drive storage is shared across Gmail, Google Photos, and Google Drive. I filled my Google Drive up with a giant photo backup, and recently upgraded for $1.99 per month for an additional 100GB per month. The most popular plan is $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage space.
Google Drive has built-in integrations for the Google Docs product suite, which includes Google Docs, Sheets, and other Microsoft Office alternatives that Google offers for free. If you work on collaborative documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, the live collaboration features in Google Drive and the G Suite are an excellent tool to boost your productivity. Learn more about using Google Drive here.
OneDrive: Best for Microsoft Office collaboration and general files
Microsoft’s response to the cloud drive is OneDrive, formerly known as SkyDrive. OneDrive is built into Windows, making it a great default app for cloud storage, backups, and sharing for Windows users. It comes built-in with Windows 10 and offers similar features to Dropbox for file storage and sharing and similar to Google Drive for Microsoft Office file sharing and collaboration. It has apps for Mac, Android, and iOS in addition to the Windows version.
Get 5GB for free or pay $1.99 per month for 50GB. Alternatively, upgrade to Office 365 Personal for $69.99 per year which includes the Office Suite and 1TB or Office 365 Home for $99.99 per year for five users with 1TB of storage each. If you don’t regularly use Windows or Microsoft Office, you can skip this one unless you want to cobble together more free online drive storage space. Business versions are available as well with additional storage and collaboration features, but for a higher cost.
Amazon: Music and video
Amazon’s cloud drive doesn’t offer the same syncing and sharing features from Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive that give you access to every file in your drive from any connected device while also sharing those files with other users on the web. Amazon’s drive space lives in the cloud and is accessible by different apps, mostly notably music and video apps.
While Prime members get unlimited photo storage included with your account, the biggest power comes from storing music and video. Amazon’s music player can play songs from your cloud drive. You used to be able to stream videos to Plex from your Amazon cloud storage space, but Amazon recently blocked the feature sending Plex users to Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, or other competing services.
Box: Backups and LinkedIn embeds
Box was one of the first online storage companies, but it has struggled to keep up with dominant industry leaders like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon in the space. However, that doesn’t mean you should just ignore the service.
Box is best for cloud backups and its business focused tools. For example, you can embed a file from Box in your LinkedIn profile as a portfolio item. Get 100GB of storage for $5 per month or unlimited storage for $15 per month with the business plan.
Manage them all with Otixo or Primadesk
All of these cloud storage companies can lead to a lot of confusion. If you sign up for the free tier from each, you have a lot of gigs of free online space, but keeping them all straight can be a trick. For that, two services have emerged as cloud storage managers.
Otixo allows you to connect with up to 35 cloud storage accounts. They offer a free tier that limits how you connect through Otixo and includes up to 2GB of transfers per month. Paid versions give additional connection options, ideal for developers, and up to 50GB of monthly bandwidth.
The cloud is the future of business and computing
In his final weekly column, long-time tech writer Walt Mossberg mused that computers have gone from giant clunky machines to little objects in our pockets, but the next evolution will be an internet all around us. Part of the infrastructure that makes it work is the cloud, and both consumers and small businesses can take advantage of this important technology.
Whether you just want to backup your family photos or want a fully cloud based system for your team to share files and projects, there is a cloud solution that meets your needs. All you have to do is click, signup, and you’ll be up and running in no time!