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Google Drive vs Dropbox

Google Drive vs Dropbox
(Image credit: Google/Dropbox)

The best cloud storage services do more than just store your data in the cloud. They also come with a wide range of productivity apps, tools, and integrations to streamline and improve your workflow. 

With the cloud storage market saturated with so many providers, it can be tricky knowing which one is right for you. In your search for a cloud storage service, you've most likely come across two names: Google Drive and Dropbox.

Dropbox, one of the pioneers of cloud storage, was for a long time the go-to storage provider. But in the last decade, Google Drive has given Dropbox a run for its money with its generous storage and suite of productivity solutions. However, Dropbox still gets the better of Google Drive when it comes to security. 

In this article, we take a closer look at Google Drive vs Dropbox, comparing them in terms of features, performance, support, pricing and plans in a bid to help you decide which one is best for you. To find out more about both platforms, make sure to read our comprehensive Google Drive review, our Dropbox review, and our Dropbox Business review for the full insight into the services.

Google Drive: high-performing, integrated storage
Google Drive's series of useful tools push it beyond cloud storage. Its range of slick user apps and its tight integration with Google Workspace make it simple to fit into business workflows, while its seamless integration of third-party apps and swift performance make it an easy sell to business users.
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Dropbox: affordable file sharing leader
Dropbox is still one of the leading cloud storage solutions, and its unobtrusive dashboard ensures that it remains one of the simplest to use. In turn, its competitive business plans, alongside its open approach to integrating third-party applications, mean it should not be underestimated in comparison to its competitors.
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Google Drive vs Dropbox: Features

Dropbox's homepage

Dropbox has excellent security features  (Image credit: Dropbox)

Dropbox and Google Drive are giants in the cloud storage market. You can access them using a web client or their excellent apps available on Android and iOS. Overall, they offer lots of similar features, meaning you have to dig deep to find differences. 

Collaborative features

Collaboration is one of Google Drive’s and Dropbox's biggest selling points, but Google Drive is the winner here. Google Drive has a lineup of native apps, including Docs, Sheets, and Slides, making it easy to create, share, and edit files and folders on the go. Plus, Drive syncs with your Gmail account and other Google apps such as Google Meet, the video conferencing tool. 

If you’re a Gmail user, these integrations make your work a breeze, as you don't have to keep switching accounts and providers. Dropbox pales in comparison: its best effort to compete with Google Drive's range of native apps is Dropbox Paper, a document-editing service. But not even Dropbox Paper can match Google Docs' wealth of text-formatting features. 

However, Dropbox is currently experimenting with the beta version of Dropbox Spaces, a virtual workspace that brings teams and projects together. The introduction of Spaces might tip the scales in Dropbox's favor, although it remains to be seen.

File versioning

It's also worth noting that both providers offer a file-versioning feature, so you can expect to have a minute-by-minute record of your files to save you from accidental edits and deletions. If you want to securely send files that you don't need to collaborate on, Dropbox is your best bet. 

With Dropbox Transfer, every file you send (up to 100GB) automatically expires after seven days, and the recipient cannot make any changes. Both Drive and Dropbox provide file syncing to ensure that changes in a file are reflected across all your devices. But it's how they do it that differs. 

When you make a change on a file in Google Drive, Google uploads the entire file to the web before downloading it on the device being synced. This makes syncing slow, and you might need to refresh your Drive before you see the changes. Dropbox uses a more effective approach known as block-level file copying: it copies and syncs only the parts that you have changed. 

As a result, Dropbox's file-syncing is faster than Google Drive's. But this feature may not be a deal-breaker because Google has some of the fastest cloud servers in the world, and you may not see the difference in file syncing speeds until you start dealing with large files.

Third-party integrations and apps

In terms of apps and integrations, there's not much difference between Google Drive and Dropbox. Both providers offer seamless integration with some of our favorite apps such as Slack, Salesforce, Adobe, Asana, Zapier, to name but a few. Plus, you can collaborate on your Microsoft Office files without having to convert files into different formats.  

That said, it seems Dropbox is more forward-looking and innovative when it comes to integrations. For instance, Dropbox recently announced integrations with media and entertainment companies like Canva, Vimeo, Marvel, Getty Shift, Widen, and Final Draft, a move that should be good news for publishing, production, and creative teams.

Performance

Dropbox's user interface

Dropbox has an easy-to-use interface (Image credit: Dropbox)

We'll compare the performance of Google Drive and Dropbox with usability and speed as our primary criteria. Both have intuitive interfaces for their web applications: lots of white space, minimal use of colors, and high contrast combine to make both applications easy on the eye. 

Key tabs such as "Recent", "Home", "Shared", and "Starred" are immediately visible. Because both providers are intuitive, they show your favorite and most-used files and folders on the homepage. Plus, both have an easy-to-locate button that leads you to a collection of apps and integrations. 

The area they seem to differ most is with regards to search. When you need to retrieve a file quickly, especially from packed storage, search capabilities come in handy. Dropbox enables you to quickly scour through and locate your files with a keyword. If you upgrade to Business or Professional plans, you can search for text in images. 

But Google Drive takes file search a notch higher. Aside from the normal search button, Google Drive has two AI-powered apps that make file search even more intuitive. Priority can predict what you are looking for and show the most relevant results—a feature that can help your team find files 50% faster. Explore, on the other hand, suggests files you can review or use when you start a new project. This is a time-saving feature that can save you hours of research.

We run a speed test on both Google Drive and Dropbox to see how each performs. We tried to upload and download a 500MB video file on both platforms using a fast and stable internet (190Mbps download, 50 Mbps upload). We removed bandwidth limits to ensure a fair comparison. 

Google Drive downloaded our file at about 93Mbps, but Dropbox lagged behind, clocking a measly 61Mbps. Upload speeds were no different. Google Drive managed 35Mbps compared to Dropbox's 30Mbps. Google Drive thus seems to outperform Dropbox when it comes to speed. 

However, take note that your download and upload speeds largely depend on your ISP's bandwidth and the processing power of your device. 

Security

Google Drive's security features

Google Drive's security is less comprehensive, but is set to improve (Image credit: Google Drive)

Google Drive and Dropbox both claim to store and transfer files securely. However, neither offers the all-important zero-knowledge encryption. Simply put, if there's ever a data breach on either provider's servers, hackers or even the provider’s employees could access your files. Nonetheless, both storage options have strict protocols in place to ensure such breaches do not happen. 

Both providers offer 256-bit AES encryption when files are at rest and in transit. This encryption level is standard across the industry, and protects your files from being accessed by unauthorized persons. Another layer of protection available with the two storage options is two-factor authentication, which requires users to provide a second layer of proof such as a one-time PIN, fingerprint, or even facial recognition. 

If your primary aim for cloud storage is security, then we recommend Dropbox over Google Drive. Unlike Google Drive, Dropbox adds a password and expiry dates on shared links. That way, unauthorized people won't be able to access your documents. Google seems keen on catching up with Dropbox, as it plans to introduce encryption keys to shared links later this year. 

Support

Google Drive's online support webpage

Google Drive's customer support is a mixed bag (Image credit: Google Drive)

Both Google Drive and Dropbox claim to offer excellent customer service. But when we tested both support systems, Google Drive came out tops again. 

First of all, we looked at each provider's community forum. We were left disappointed by Google Drive's seemingly inactive forum: several posts had few replies. Dropbox’s community forum, however, is buzzing with hundreds of posts and thousands of replies across several verticals, from accounts and billing to installs and integrations. 

But that's where Dropbox's edge ends. We found it hard to get in touch with anyone from Dropbox while using a basic account. You'll have to be a paying customer to get 24-hour live chat support. Standard and Advanced users also get phone support during business hours. 

On the contrary, with a free Drive account, we easily got in touch with an agent through email, although we had to fill out a form first. It took about three hours to receive a response. We were most impressed with Drive's live chat support: an agent promptly attended to us, and even followed up through email when we ended the chat abruptly. 

Pricing and plans

Dropbox's pricing plans

Dropbox has several plans for users (Image credit: Dropbox)

At face value, Drive seems to be more generous with its free plan: you'll get a whopping 15GB storage without paying a dime. Compared to Dropbox's 2GB on its free account, it's certainly generous. But there's a catch. Drive's 15GB storage is shared across Gmail and Google Photos. In other words, if you have several email attachments and photos, your free Drive storage might run out quickly. 

Drive's cheapest plan (100GB storage) will cost you $1.99 a month. If you prepay annually you'll get 16% off, meaning you only pay $19.99 a year. By comparison, Dropbox's paid plans start at $11.99 a month ($119.88 a year) and you’ll get 2TB storage. 

Drive's 2TB plan will set you back $9.99 a month or $99.99 when you pay yearly. In addition, you'll get 10% cashback when you purchase items on the Google Store. Pound for pound, Google Drive is a much cheaper storage option. 

Users of Google Workspace can upgrade their storage package to 30GB per user if they pay $6 per user. For 2TB storage per user, you'll have to part with $12 a month per user. The $18 per user a month package gives you 5TB cloud storage per user, a custom, and secure business email, and enhanced security and management controls. 

Google Drive, through Workspace, also has a custom package where you can get as much storage as you need, plus additional benefits such as priority support and advanced security management. You'll have to contact their sales department for a quote. 

Dropbox, on the other hand, has plans tailored to specific business types. We recommend its Professional plan ($16.58 a month), which comes with 3TB for freelancers. 

For growing teams, the Standard plan ($12.50 a month) is your best bet, and you get 5TB storage and other benefits including file-locking and an admin console to oversee cloud storage use. If you run a large and complex team, go for the Advanced plan. For $20 per user a month, besides unlimited storage, you'll get intuitive admin and data capabilities to steer the affairs of your team. 

Google Drive vs Dropbox: Verdict

In this Google Drive vs Dropbox comparison, Google Drive just edges Dropbox in most categories. Dropbox remains an excellent choice if security is a priority. And while Drive boasts faster upload and download speeds, it can’t match Dropbox when it comes to file-syncing. 

But Google Drive’s suite of native apps (such as Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms) and hundreds of integrations make it the go-to cloud storage choice for many. If you have a Gmail account or you use ChromeOS, then choosing Drive is a no-brainer. Drive’s integration, not only with Google Workspace but with the Microsoft Office suite, also makes it an excellent choice for people already using these products. 

Price is another consideration when choosing storage options, and again, Google Drive bests Dropbox. Although Dropbox has a wider range of plans tailored to all kinds of businesses, Drive costs less per storage space package. Moreover, Drive has a faster customer response time, making it an excellent choice for people who are not particularly tech-inclined.

Overall, Google Drive offers better performance, slightly better collaborative features, and more affordable storage plans.

Wisdom Sablah

Wisdom Elikem Sablah is a B2B, SaaS consultant and freelance writer. He combines a background in mathematics, data science, and digital marketing with a knack for storytelling. He writes for top publications, including TechRadar, Tom's Guide, and CreativeBloq.