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Google Drive vs OneDrive

Google Drive vs OneDrive
(Image credit: Google/Microsoft)

Cloud storage technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last few years, making it a favorable choice for businesses looking to upgrade their storage solutions. With improvements in security and collaboration tools, many businesses are making the shift from storing their files on localized hardware to uploading them to centralized cloud storage services. 

However, choosing the right cloud storage provider can be overwhelming when you need to make sure all your business needs are covered. The best cloud storage solutions provide robust security, ample bandwidth, and, obviously, adequate storage. It’s also worth considering factors like ease of use, as well as the support services available, to ensure a smooth transition for your team.

In this article, we take a closer look at Google Drive vs OneDrive—two big players in the cloud storage market. Google Drive and OneDrive are very similar in terms of their offering, except that Google Drive has a cloud-only model, while OneDrive supports a mixture of cloud-based and desktop options. 

We’ll compare the features, performance, support service, and pricing plans of each to help you decide which, if either, is the right choice for your business. You can also learn more about each platform in our comprehensive Google Drive review and our full OneDrive review.

Google Drive: high-performance, integrated storage
Google Drive's range of useful tools elevate it beyond cloud storage. Its slick apps and tight integration with Google Workspace products make it easy to fit into workflows, while seamless integration with third-party apps and swift performance make it an easy sell to businesses.
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Microsoft OneDrive: collaborative storage and software
Microsoft OneDrive provides tight integration with Windows and Microsoft 365, allowing for real-time file collaboration and automatic backups. Its straightforward and intuitive interface requires little guidance, and the comprehensive and responsive support available is able to assist with anything more complex.
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Google Drive vs OneDrive: Features

Google Drive's user interface

Google Drive's collaborative features and desktop client are cohesive and straightforward (Image credit: Google)

Both OneDrive and Google Drive offer similar features across the board, meaning you really have to get into the technical nitty-gritty to differentiate. Collaboration is made easy on both platforms, and both make it simple to work from the Microsoft Office Suite of apps, making document sharing and management a doddle. 

Accessing Google Drive and OneDrive on the go from different devices is also straightforward, and both options work well on Windows, macOS, and Android operating systems. For ChromeOS users, Google Drive is the obvious choice, as the operating system integrates seamlessly with all Google products. 

Searching for and organizing files is quick and easy on both Google Drive and OneDrive. But again, Google pips Microsoft to the post with its efficient built-in search engine. Its clever recognition software picks out search terms on PDFs and images, as well as those embedded in Docs, Sheets, and other file types.

Sharing documents works in the same way on both Google Drive and OneDrive. You can either send a shareable link or add someone's email address directly to the file permissions to allow access. This enables you to easily grant document access to people both inside and outside of your organization.

OneDrive offers more permission levels than Google Drive, allowing users to customize what can and can’t be edited within a shared file. It can be a little complicated, with 33 options to choose from versus three with Google, but the flexibility may be a nice touch for some businesses.

Where syncing is concerned, OneDrive uses block-level copying, whereas Google Drive doesn’t. This technology means that when changes are made to a document, only the edited sections of that file will be re-uploaded, as opposed to the entire thing. For large documents, this may make things a little faster, but it’s not make-or-break. It also only works on files created in Microsoft-native apps, i.e., Word or Excel.

Performance

Google Drive's desktop client in use

Downloadable clients make it easy to sync files to the cloud with both OneDrive and Google Drive (Image credit: Google Drive)

OneDrive is fully integrated with the Windows operating system, making this the OS of choice for OneDrive users. On a Windows PC or laptop, users can access OneDrive via the Start menu navigation panel. 

On other operating systems or devices, it’s easiest to access OneDrive using the web app, which is where its usability falls down. Although it functions on any device, the web app interface is a little clunky and lacks the sophistication of competitors like Google Drive, which is designed for web use. Microsoft has announced that updates to the web app will be coming in November 2021, so hopefully, this irons out some of those niggles.

Google Drive is a web app first and foremost, and its functionality is the same across the different operating systems. In our opinion, it has the edge over OneDrive’s web application for simplicity and aesthetics. The interface is intuitive whether you're a ChromeOS, macOS, or Windows user, and transitioning between devices is a breeze.

Again, there’s not much to differentiate between the two cloud storage systems when it comes to speed, as long as you have a stable internet connection for online work. OneDrive’s use of block-level copying makes data transfers from Microsoft-native documents quicker than on Google Drive. However, this will really only make an impact if you work on lots of large documents.

Both Google Drive and OneDrive come with downloadable clients that can be used to sync documents and folders from your computer directly to the cloud. These downloadable clients won’t take up much of your computer’s memory, and the processing requirements are minimal.

Unlike Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive requires a lot of software to be installed onto your computer’s hard drive. Google is entirely web-based, and is only accessible through your web browser; therefore it takes up a lot less valuable space.  

Security

Google Drive's webpage discussing security features

Two-step verification is available on OneDrive and Google Drive (Image credit: google drive)

One of the key things to note about both OneDrive and Google Drive is that neither currently provides zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption as a security feature. Both providers enable their support staff to access files and folders with your encryption key. There are, of course, strict protocols in place to manage this and ensure that individuals only access your data when you need them to.

However, this lack of zero-knowledge end-to-encryption also means that anyone who manages to breach either Google or OneDrive’s security could potentially reach your files. That said, both Google and Microsoft have robust security systems in place. It’s just something worth bearing in mind for businesses handling lots of sensitive data. 

Instead of end-to-end encryption, Google Drive supports AES 128-bit encryption when files are at rest and SSL/TLS 256-bit encryption for files in transit. That means more stringent security measures are used when files are uploaded. OneDrive supports AES 265-bit encryption, both when files are in transit or at rest. 

While this may give OneDrive the security edge right now, Google announced that it would release a security update later in 2021 to enable full end-to-end encryption of documents in Google Workspace and Google Drive. The beta version is already available for trial, and so this is something to watch out for if you’re thinking about updating your cloud storage in the future.

OneDrive and Google Drive are both protected by optional two-factor authentication, which ensures extra steps are needed for users to access data. On top of entering a password, users have to input additional information, such as a one-time PIN, and can even use facial recognition as a security measure.

Support

OneDrive's support webpage

Both options come with extensive help guides (Image credit: Microsoft)

All paying OneDrive users have access to 24/7 phone and online support, with both live chat and a ticket system available. Customers that subscribe to a plan do get priority support over free users, but they may still have to wait a while to have their query answered. The support hotline runs a queue system, and wait times can be in the 40-minute region, but the agents seem to do a good job of answering any questions.

The free online knowledge base has plenty of content that outlines how to use cloud storage and other Microsoft apps. This is where you’ll find all of the setup guides, and the information is thorough—if you can be bothered to trawl through and find what you need. There’s also a community forum that is actively monitored by Microsoft’s customer service team. 

All Google Drive users have access to a detailed help page covering setup, user guides, and other information in multiple languages. Paid users get 24/7 support by phone, email, and live chat. Google Drive promises a response in one business day, but it’s often faster.

Enterprise users get enhanced support, where response times are around 15 minutes instead of one hour on the standard plans. You can choose to pay a small monthly fee to upgrade this to premium support, where you’ll be bumped to the front of the queue.

Google’s options to upgrade the level of support on its paid plans and the addition of multilingual services put it slightly ahead of OneDrive, but again, there’s little to differentiate, and you’ll find your queries answered adequately with both providers.

Pricing and plans

OneDrive's pricing plans

Microsoft has a good range of pricing plans that include OneDrive and Microsoft 365 (Image credit: Google Drive)

Both Google and Microsoft include cloud storage for businesses as part of a package with their other apps and office software, making them great value solutions. Personal cloud storage users can sign up for free with both Google Drive and OneDrive, but this offers limited usage. 

With Google, if you only want access to Google Drive, you get 15GB of free storage, after which you need to pay a monthly or annual subscription. It’s $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year for 100GB, $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year for 200GB, and $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year for 2TB. 

Users of Google Workspace—which includes Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, Chat, and Gmail—get an additional 30GB of storage for $6 per user a month. For teams of five or more users, you can pay $12 per user a month for 2TB of storage. Upgrading to the other Business Plan, which costs $18 per user a month, gives users access to 5TB of storage plus additional benefits, such as priority support and enhanced security controls. 

An Enterprise plan is available on request, with prices dependent on the amount of storage you request, the level of support you need, and the number of users.

OneDrive includes just 5GB of storage on its free plan, but upgrading is affordable. Business plans start at $5 per user a month for 1TB of storage. For teams of five or more users, unlimited storage is available for $10 per user a month. 

Users of the Unlimited plan will initially only be given access to 1TB of their unlimited storage, and must then request the additional storage from Microsoft when needed, which is a frustrating extra step.

To include Microsoft 365 for Business with access to all of the Microsoft apps and 1TB of storage per user, it’s $12.50 per user a month. Microsoft 365 includes the full productivity suite, including Outlook, Word, Excel, Publisher, Teams, Yammer, and more. 

Both OneDrive and Google Drive offer great value for money and flexibility with their pricing plans. And while we wouldn’t make the decision based on pricing alone, Microsoft’s paid plans do give you more for your money on the higher-tiered subscriptions.

Google Drive vs OneDrive: The verdict

Both Google Drive and OneDrive are great options for teams that need to share and collaborate on documents frequently. They are both powerful and affordable cloud storage options, and sometimes the easiest way to choose is by making a decision based on which office suite you already use.

While both options are similar when it comes to performance, we think Google Drive’s compatibility with both Google Workspace and Microsoft Office gives it the edge over OneDrive. This gap is widened when you include the improved security updates that are set to arrive soon, giving users full control over their encryption key.

However, for businesses that remain loyal to the Microsoft Office suite, OneDrive may be the obvious choice for consistency and value. The interface is intuitive, and it’s straightforward to use if you’re familiar with Microsoft products already.