Dropbox vs Google Drive — Which Should You Choose? – Process Street

Dropbox vs Google Drive — Which Should You Choose?

Dropbox vs Google Drive

I recently hit the limit on my 100GB Dropbox account and after a bit of research decided to make the move from Dropbox to Google Drive. In this post I’ll explain why I did it and some cool unexpected benefits that came from the move and give you a rundown of Dropbox vs Google Drive.

Dropbox and Google Drive are file storage services that sync files between a folder on your device(s) and the cloud. Making it easy to backup and access your files from anywhere.

Up until a few weeks ago I was paying for premium plans for both Google Drive and Dropbox. Both 100GB plans, $1.99 a month for Google drive and $9.99 a month for Dropbox.

Price

Update 01/09/14: Dropbox in an aggressive move has dropped its prices to match Google Drive, now offering 1TB for $10. While price was originally a key deciding factor for me, the extra benefits I got from moving to Drive still made it worthwhile.

Really want to know why Google Drive is better?

Check out this bonus content: 25 Google Drive Tips you’ve Probably Never Heard of

Storage

As mentioned above, I got 10x more storage with Google for the same price, a massive 1TB. My main computer has a 500GB SSD and a 750GB HDD drive, for a total of 1.25 TB, but neither Google Drive or Dropbox let you split your folder across drives, so I was basically restricted to a maximum of 500GB on my main drive. This number is false however since Operating System and Application files take up a bunch of space that I don’t need to back up. So really I have about 350GB capacity on my PC that I can sync with Google Drive. My second computer, a Macbook Air has even less storage space, 128GB total, so I can barely fit any of my files on that computer. And Google Drive gave me 1TB!

My point is I now have more space than I know what to do with (actually thats a lie, I’ve been using Google Drive to replace my 3 external hard drives, something I will cover in a future post – Post now live – check it out here). But it feels great to no long have to pick and choose which files I want to back up and which ones I don’t, another step towards reducing decision fatigue, yay!

Google Search

Another awesome benefit is that now all my files are in one place, and I can search them using the best search engine in the world! Finding any of my files is quick and easy using Google search on the web, mobile app or Android device.

For an added bonus, you can even search files directly from inside Gmail.
searchimprovements 1

Google Docs

Since I work with remote teams and customers all around the world, I use Google Docs a lot. I find it works better for a number of things, especially collaborative spreadsheets, and it’s great to just be able to share links out to people to collaborate on documents straight through a browser, without needing emails etc…

For content, Google Docs is pretty much the standard method of distribution when pitching guest posts for other blogs. Being able to quickly hit ‘share’ then attach a document by pasting a link into Inbox or Gmail is invaluable, and pretty much makes Microsoft Word useless.

Having docs as part of all my other files is nice for organization and search purposes as mentioned above.

Update: Looks like Dropbox has come up with a counter for this by integrating with Microsoft Office. See article here.

I’m not sure how much of an advantage that is since you get a free 1TB of storage when you pay for Office which is $7 a month, less than the price you would pay for a 1TB Dropbox plan.

Unlimited FREE photo storage with Google Photos

Google recently released Google Photos, a stand alone app for managing your photos that syncs directly with Google Drive.

Google photos is one of my favorite new apps. Firstly, they give you unlimited free storage of non-HD photos which is pretty awesome. Once installed, you instantly can browse ALL your photos on Drive. When I installed the app, suddenly I was looking at photos from 5+ years ago. They also do a bunch of cool auto effects on your images, creating stories, collages and effects. It lets you sort images by time, place and person to really make browsing a massive photo library the cleanest experience I have come across so far.

Check out this story from a trip to Budapest I took a few years back, Google made it for me without having to touch a thing.

I’ve thought for a while that a needed product is something that auto arranges and displays your old photos. Since we’re taking an exponentially increasing amount of photos each year, by the time my generation is 70+ we will have millions of photos that will literally take years to look through. So being able to consolidate all those photos down for easy consumption is going to be absolutely necessary. Looks like Google is already starting to do this, and I’m really enjoying it as I rarely get time to go through my old photos.

Auto Awesome is another cool feature that automatically stitches similar photos into Gifs and even combines videos and photos into short auto videos. Check out the below Gif it made for me automatically!

Smoky Drink Google Auto Awesome

One annoying thing I found about Google+ Photos was the number of unnecessary albums Google created for me that are full of junk and that I can’t figure out how to bulk remove. Since I work on the web and I’m constantly launching websites, designing landing pages, advertisements, blog posts and scraping stuff from various sites I have a ton of random images. Google decided to make a new album for each of my folders with images in them, equating to thousands of random albums that just have 1 or 2 banners or add to cart buttons. Hopefully they give me a way to mass organize this in the future.

Update: Looks like they are working on this as we speak.

Videos

Another cool thing is the ability to watch all my videos straight from drive. I have lots of educational courses and video clips I use for making videos, and its cool to be able to watch them from my Mac and phone without having to download them. Dropbox lets you do this too but Google supports a few more formats than Dropbox and gives you the nice YouTube player.

Really want to know why Google Drive is better?

Check out this bonus content: 25 Google Drive Tips you’ve Probably Never Heard of

Google Apps Integration

We use Google Apps at Process Street to manage our emails, calendars, files and documents. Since I now have all my personal stuff on Google Drive I can share my Process Street folder with my local account and that links all my work docs into the same Google Drive account. The space doesn’t bother me and this puts all my stuff in the same place for both work and home giving me the same advantages above with things like search.

I know this move may not be for everyone, Cameron chooses to stick with Dropbox as he doesn’t like the idea of having all his files and emails under one service provider but it seems to be working out well for me so far.

Do you use Dropbox, Google Drive or something else?

Check out these 25 Ninja Google Drive Tips!

Google Drive Tips

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Vinay Patankar

CEO of Process Street. World Traveler, Seasoned Hustler, Tech Entrepreneur, Fitness and Food Enthusiast. Youngest Cisco Engineer in Australia. 3rd Internet Company. Find him on Twitter, Google+ or his Blog


120 Comments

Have you looked at OneDrive? I would be interested in a comparison between the two.

From a price perspective, OneDrive is arguably better than Google Drive but I am not sure how well it compares on other features. I know it integrates with Office 365/Office Online but I don’t think they have a replacement for the features you get from Google+ Photos.

Hey Sam, I did look at OneDrive, their pricing is really competitive now and you get access to Microsoft Office too which is neat. The main reason I choose Google however is because of Gmail. Email is by far my most used app and I like Gmail more than Outlook, so for everything working together around my email, Google Drive worked better for me.

If you use Outlook email and Microsoft Office heavily, OneDrive is a great choice too.

Thank you for the great post! Just a quick question to be clear, I’m about to get an Macbook Air (128 gb) but have about 400 gbs of stuff to load up. I was looking at Drive as a solution but will it not let me if I don’t have the corresponding space on my laptop?

Also, have you had any problems with Drive taking forever to load up/sync files?

Thanks again for the great post!

Hey Sean, you’re welcome.

Drive will let you have as much stuff as you want (pay for) but you cant fit all of that on your Mac.

To get around this, you have choose some folders to not sync to your device so that only 50 or so GB of stuff is syncing to your Mac and the rest is just sitting on Google drive or potentially synced to another device. You can access those files from the browser, or move them into a folder that is synced with your mac to download them again.

With regards to speed, I find drive to be fast, the same as Dropbox I guess, I haven’t really noticed a difference. It did take some time to upload everything however since I moved over 100gb of stuff, but that was to be expected.

Hi! I currently use a free DropBox account for some simple projects, BackBlaze (5 bucks/month) to backup everything (except movies and software installers) and 230GB free from Copy (of Barracuda), space I earned in a referral promotion they’ve had. But none of them offer this IN content semi-automatic organization – good to know Drive is adding value with software AI.

Hey Atila, yea I use blackblaze too, its great! The problem with Backblaze however is that I can’t have more space than my harddrives. Actually it works across both my drives so backs up more than 1TB but its just for my main device, and I can’t go over that limit. And if I delete anything on my computer, it deletes it off backblaze too.

This gets even worse when using 2 devices. I have to pay for 2 different backblaze plans, and for my Air its not really worth it with just 128GB HDD. Plus, I can’t access any of the data from my main machine on the Air. With drive, all ony “online” or “backup” data can be easily accesses from my air and my phone. Plus easily shared with others through links etc. It makes the data much more accessible and flexible across devices.

Vinay, that’s true – it’s not worth it for devices which use SSD storage, as your Air, once their storage is faster but smaller. Anyway, for your main device (which I suppose is a desktop) it is worth, as a safer and automatic (decision-free) backup service – not as a syncing service for documents. For syncing, once your data is safe with BackBlaze or another similar, then Drive is an awesome choice over OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and DropBox – specially for pricing. There are some interesting comments on the matter here: http://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-use-google-drive-as-a-backup-tool/

I’m curious about one thing, because those photos features were the coolest innovation about Drive in my opinion: does it communicate with Picasa? I mean, Stories and AutoAwesome integrate with Picasa’s resources? It could become a very interesting way to organize photos and videos.

Thanks for the great post. I’ve been a Dropbox user for a while and also struggled with the issue of having enough room on my Air (128GB HD) vs. the iMac and gigantic other external drives.

Last year, I had a major issue where hundreds of files were deleted from my Dropbox because it was trying to sync too many files with my tiny Air. The selected folders option seemed to be buggy and who can afford buggy when it comes to data storage? I’m still not sure what was lost in that mess and Dropbox support wasn’t super helpful during the situation. My temporary solution was switching to the web interface on the Air, which is lame.

After doing some research, I’ve decided to switch to Drive too. Seems like Google is coming up with cool ways to integrate with it’s Mail and Calendar apps, which seems useful. Hoping it will be a smooth ride. Now just trying to figure out how to transfer files from Dropbox to Drive in the most efficient way. Any ideas?

Hey Nichole, thanks for dropping by. I actually had the same problem with my Air and just wrote a post about how I fixed it here:

http://www.process.st/2014/08/how-to-backup-your-external-hard-drives-with-google-drive/

For moving the data over, there is a service called http://mover.io that will get the job done easy. It costs money but if you are just doing a one time thing it’s not very expensive. Otherwise doing it manually on your computer is the only real other way.

Dropbox increased their storage to 1TB before I made this decision. They could offer 100TB, but that just gives them the opportunity to lose more of my files. No thanks. 🙂

Loving Google Drive so far, btw.

Dropbox is free upto 2 G. I just past 2 GB but I am a long way from needing 1TB at $9.99 per month. I was really getting use to DropBox. It is too bad they don’t offer of $1.99 plan for let say 500 GB. After reading this, I think I am ready to make the switch. Thanks for your post.

Price might indeed be a deal breaker … but it’s also too bad Dropbox (the company holding citizens’ data) won’t get rid of the war criminal on their board, you know, the one who also loves warrantless wiretaps and surveillance.

Isn’t it customary to blur out email addresses? I’m sure Peter would appreciate it.

Great post– hadn’t realized I would get integrated search. I’ll have to really consider a move.

Hey Tema, what way are you seeing Dropbox faster than Drive? I still have both on my computer just the free version of Dropbox, and I don’t see much difference between the two.

If my computer HD is 350GB and size of my Google drive is around 750GB, then what will happen? once I use GoogleDrive as desktop application all the files will be sync to computer HD. How it will be solve?? thanks

Hi Vinay,
Thanks for the post, pretty interesting. I am still hesitating to switch from DB to GD. My main motivation would be the gmail integration and being able to read videos (with subtitles) directly from GD. But I read a lot of terrible comments/discussions about GD performance, especially about the desktop application (crashes often, uses over 1GB of memory, recurrent unsyncable files, etc). Yesterday I tried to sync a few folders on GD, my macbook air didn’t appreciate (full power fan!) and GD application showed 2228 unsycable files over 2229… Do you encounter the same issues? Is GD as buggy as every one describes it?

I have had a few unsyncable files turn up yes which is a little annoying but less than 5 total, nothing like your numbers. Not sure what is happening on your site. Also the memory usage hasn’t been an issue for me yet. I think over all as a straight up file syncing service dropbox is less buggy yes, but that hasn’t had a tangible effect on me yet.

hi Vinay,
thanks for the comparison.
i just purchased 1tb from dropbox but actually many of my friends are using google drive. and i couldnt decide it. then i checked the business email from google. and for 10 bucks, they give you an unlimited storage. but actually couldnt get, does it mean google drive ?

Yea Google Apps for Work gives you minimum of 1TB space per user on drive, unlimited if you have more than 5 users. But remember this is just for your Google Work account (vinay@mydomain.com) NOT your Gmail account (vinay@gmail.com). So make sure you are logging in with the right account to get the benefits.

See details of Google Apps for Work Pricing and Features here – http://www.google.com/work/apps/business/pricing.html

I have put approximately 1000 pics in dropbox about 3 months ago. I just decided to use Google Drive instead due to price and features but have no idea how to transfer my dropbox folders/pics to GDrive….can you help me please!!

Hey Vinay, we’re about to roll out a product that solves this issue in a much better way than multcloud. Would love to hop on a call to fill you in and hear your thoughts.

I’m fairly new to using the cloud, and wondered if there was a way to use google drive and Dropbox at the same time??

Hey Nichell, yea of course just download both of them. You can have free accounts with both, i still use my Dropbox axcount on the free plan for some stuff.

I also switched from Dropbox to Drive, quite some time ago. I was paying $10 for 100GB when Google decided to only charge $2 for that same amount of space. I gave Dropbox a chance to match that price (since, in my experience, Dropbox is faster), and they basically said they had no plans to change their service pricing, so I gave them the boot.

I still use my free dropbox for the better automatically photo uploads, but the rest goes on Drive.

Nice Derek, I still use my free Dropbox too – I have like 16gb from all the invites I sent out so it’s still usable for a lot of stuff.

Hi Vinay , how about the privacy on drive, i read that is not good, they can check all you documents, i’m afraid of that, any you know about? thanks

If you upload your data to the cloud, it is vulnerable. Pure and simple. Anybody can get hacked no matter what they tell you, however Google does have one of the best (of not the best) track record in not getting hacked.

If you are not worried about hacked/leaked data but more about Google scanning your records to run ads to you or something like that… yea they probably do that. If they don’t they may do it in the future. But you have to understand, Google has a SHIT TON of data. Like so much data there is no possible way you could ever comprehend even 1% of how much data they have. Think of all the search data, all youtube data, all google analytics data, all gmail data…

Basically my point is nobody cares about your data. It will never be seen in the huge sea of data and will just be aggregated into some high level metric. Plus what is stopping Dropbox from selling your data or running ads against it in the future?

If you are really worried about your data, you can look at something like https://mega.co.nz which is security focused. However if you want speed and reliability, you are going to want to go with a huge company that has lots of money in the bank to support the infrastructure required for stable storage management worldwide.

If security is your concern, store your data on an external hard drive.

Vinay, while I agree with most of what you say here, there is one problematic area of Drive that cannot be ignored. First, please understand that even though I’m a Mac user, I’m also a Google Apps for Work subscriber and heavily invested in Google mail and Calendar.

Before Google’s new Chrome extension that allows MS Office document editing, there was Drive “Preview” which allowed me to view perhaps 75% of the MS Documents I needed to see on a daily basis (the other 25% were just not displayed properly enough to even view. Using this Chrome extension, no Office document is viewable or editable…as Google touts. Well, they’re editable, but they start out as total visual garbage so why bother. Google Apps support is currently trying to work on this with me, but they do agree from both the test Office docs I’ve sent them and other screenshots, this is definitely a problem as they’ve been able to reproduce it.

My point, is that not all users of Drive use Drive docs, sheets, etc., and millions of Drive users still need to collaborate with people using MS Office. As it stands now, I can’t view all MS Office documents in Preview and I can’t view or work on MS Office documents with their new extension. So, for this demographic, obviously a very large one, Google Drive becomes quite useless.

For now I’m using OneDrive, and for a Microsoft product it’s amazing just how great it is. It is the ONLY Microsoft product I use, but I have to admit it allows online or desktop editing of MS Office documents and it works equally as well as Dropbox, Drive, or any other cloud service for simply keeping anything you want stored in the cloud.

If you want real-time collaboration in the cloud on Microsoft products, of course you are not going to get the same experience with any other product besides Microsoft’s. You can still easily collaborate on office documents just using desktop sync, but it is not as smooth when you have lots of people working on the same file at the same time – I agree.

I personally do not collaborate heavily around Word documents. Mostly I use Trello for organizational stuff, Process Street (obviously) and Google Sheets so Drive works just fine for me. And like you I am heavily invested in Gmail and Google Calendar which makes it even better.

But I don’t think there is any tool that is the perfect fit for everyone, everybody has their own workflow and existing tools they need to work with. So it always comes down to the individual.

Well said, Vinay. I guess if Google ever gets all the bugs out of their recently released Office Editing Extension for Chrome, I’ll go back to Google Drive. Even the Google tech support guy I’ve been working with on that problem admitted the Office files he checked did not display well at all. And regarding workflow, I just don’t have time to import files to Drive format and then export again to Office format for the many documents I have to deal with, even though the files usually translate just fine. Keep up the nice blog!

Remember Google Notebooks? I loved the service and I spent hundreds of hours
building Notebooks on different topics. then Google removed the service

Remember Google Knols? It was unambiguously better than wikipedia. You could
invite the world to change what you wrote or invite just a few people to change what
you wrote or not let anyone tinker with your work. I wrote and got several friends
to write knolls around their topics of expertise. then … Google removed the service.

You think google Drive is here to stay? I trust that Google will continue its offerings
that provide a decent income stream but unless I can see that it’s directly helping their bottom line
I stay away.

Haha, very skeptical Don but it does hold some merit. There is nothing we can really do there. Who is to say Dropbox won’t go bankrupt in 5 years? Their margins are certainly getting thinner and they have far less money in the bank than Google or Microsoft.

Anyway, if Google decides to shut down Gmail, Calendar, Analytics or a host of other services lots of people will be screwed. People who probably have a lot more money riding on it than you or I (well I actually don’t know how much money you have riding on it so I can’t speak for you) but you understand my point. There is an element of risk storing your data anywhere, it’s just about understanding and managing that risk.

Great post Vinay! Quick question. I plan on using Google to store all my business files, but only want to sync one folder across 2-3 computers (like an active projects folder). Can that be done, and then I have access to all the other archived files via the google drive web view (that won’t get synced on local machines)? Thanks!

Great Post! I’m also moving all of my files to google drive. Some of my old project still at dropbox though. I used to love DB, but the conflicted copy issues, not being able to edit the same document at the same time, and the web app is a little but difficult to use. Google on the other hand has an amazing web apps and integration.

Hi Vinay. Im new to all of this and to be honest, a little nervous about saving anyhing to “a cloud”! For one, I dont have extra money (even if its only $1.99/month) to pay for storage. Is there a free version? Two, Im a little nervous about setting up/saving my stuff incorrectly and finding out later that I did it wrong and everything I saved is somehow public! That would be a nightmare! ha. Third, Im not sure WHAT to use! There is so much info online arguing “this or that”(and why it is) is the best storage to use. Honestly, I dont want to have to read for hours and be even more unsure of which one to use. I use my Samsung Galaxy a lot for gmail, notes, writing (short stories & poems) plus several apps I use ask “save to dropbox or drive?”. I do take a lot of pictures as well (with my Canon cameras). I have to admit that I did not read all of the readers questions and your answers. So if my questions have already been asked, please say so and I will try to find your answers. I would also like to know which service is the easiest/most secure to use (for beginers) based off of what Ive said I “do” (writing, poetry, gmail, photos)? I appreciate any response you give. I hope you have a great day…and Merry Christmas!

Hey Lisa, all the services have free versions. I think mega has 50gb free but Kimdotcom is a wanted criminal so I’m not sure if you want to put your sensitive data on his servers…

Seems like your needs are fairly basic so any of the services will do what you want. Dropbox, Drive, Onedrive, Box etc… So just pick one it won’t make that much of a difference. Drive is probably a better option if you use an Android device as it integrates well since they are both owned by Google. But they are all huge companies that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Regarding security and privacy I did talk about that above in a bit of detail, so please check that.

And regarding user errors, unfortunately there is nothing I can do about that – either learn to use it or don’t. But what I will say is that all the products automatically set everything to private. You have to explicitly go in and make things public. To mitigate this risk, you can also just save a few non-sensitive files first and make sure its all working fine for a few weeks before adding the rest of your data.

One thing I will say as an overarching piece of advice – read the words in an app! Buttons, notifications and tooltips are there for a reason. As a creator of software it absolutely blows my mind how few users read stuff before they click. If you don’t want to accidently publish your ‘tasteful nude photos’ publicly, read the message first!

I’ve used DropBox for years and love it. I have a Google Apps for Work account, but use Microsoft products (Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint) for all of my work (as tens of millions of white collar workers in the US and around the globe do). Google Apps Synch syncs all of the Outlook stuff (emails, calendar, etc.) so that, as a solo professional, I don’t need to set up or mess with MS Exchange Server. Accordingly, while all of my emails and calendar entries are “in the cloud” on Google servers, but I almost never access them via Chrome browser or website. Instead, I turn on whatever pc I’m working from (home office, laptop at coffee shop, different laptop at work office), and within a couple of seconds Google Apps Synch and Drobox sync all of my emails and docs, respectively.

Questions: You list search as an advantage of Drive. I do not understand this. Since by definition all Drive, DB, or OneDrive files are synced to your local hard drive, aren’t all of the searches performed on that local hard drive (to which you have much, much faster access than the cloud over, say, wireless)? Or are you describing a situation where you access the files on the cloud service via a browser (something I rarely do; don’t need to), and running the search Google’s/OneDrives/Dropbox’s online servers? Is there some advanatage to doing that? Do they automatically index one’s files there? If not, wouldn’t that be a painfully slow way to search?

I work with tons of pdf files going back years, much of it work product but also alot of client docs, published docs, etc. I’ve set up my windows pc’s in a way to index (in the background) all content in the thousands of pdfs, emails, word docs, etc., on my local hard drives. As files sync across my pcs, the local indexes (indicies?) are updated with that new content. This way, on whatever pc I’m on, I can type in a boolean search in the windows search bar and document “hits” are *instantly* displayed (searching a local hard drive index is very, very fast). Does the google search function you describe do this better? How?

Last question (sorry for the long post): I’d be very interested in hearing any thoughts by any cloud syncing service re. the relative advantages/disadvantages for someone in my situation (using a mix of MS Apps and Google Apps for Work) as Drives (or OneDrive’s, or DB’s) native ability to work with documents or emails. Thanks, Drew.

Hi Drew, Really great post. I actually have some questions for you as I’ve been dealing with many of the same issues myself. I’ve read about some tools out there that might be helpful but nothing AMAZING yet. Please email me at dorondavid11@gmail.com to set up a time to chat. Thanks!

Here I am referring to the online search. Since when you search online you are searching on Google servers using Google’s search algorithm which I find much faster and more accurate than local search (yes google indexes everything + every other kind of search optimization there is).

I find local search slow and clunky, its better on a Mac than a PC but far from accurate. Plus searching on the browser will let you search INSIDE files much easier.

For your last point there were a couple of syncing services mentioned here in the comments, another one I recently found was https://www.cloudhq.net/ but I dont have much experience testing them sorry.

Thanks, Vinay.

I have now experimented a *very tiny bit* (more to do) with online vs. local search. Here are my observations (so far):

–Windows search (which has actually gotten better in Win8–“baked into” the program and user interface), seems much, much better at first blush than what DropBox (especially), OneDrive (especially) and Google Drive offer. In Windows (local) search, you can powerful “Boolean” search operands to narrow/target your search. These can allow very sophisticated searches. See: http://www.howtogeek.com/school/learning-windows-search/lesson4/
In fact, Boolean search capability is so important in my field (legal) that *all law students” learn to find published and not (officially) published case law through legal databases such as Lexis and Westlaw this way. In short, most lawyers (at least us litigators) could not survive (at least not successfully) without this capability.

Now take a 5, 10, 15+ year legal career, with hundreds of cases downloaded in pdf format; hundreds of briefs written in Word and filed in pdf format; tens of thousands of Outlook emails, and play out the following scenario: “I remember seeing a case that discussed X a few months [years, etc.] ago, and downloading it. I need to find it briefly for this brief I’m working on that’s due to be filed a a few hours.” Rather than sign on to a Lexis and re-search millions (I’d guess) of reported decisions (a back-up plan, for sure), you are much more likely to find the case quickly indexed in your own stash of files (a few thousand, if that), with a broader search. That broader search might return a thousand cases on Lexis or Westlaw; you don’t have time to sort through all of that chaff….
I’ll do some more digging. So far, it seems Google Drive does offer a little bit more search capability that DropBox or OneDrive, but I cannot (yet) confirm this.

I *do* see the advantage of having the indexing going on on the cloud services’ more powerful file servers, with no decrease in performance of my pc. BUt that’s irrelevant is their search software is not in the stone ages (“X and Y”; “X but not Y”; “X or Y”–this alone does NOT cut it!).

For the life of me I don’t understand why at least Google’s cloud search would be any less powerful than its web search, which I thought *was* Boolean….

For me, the service with the best search is the winner, *if* it is powerful enough to replace my local solution. If not, I’ll probably just stick with DropBox, which just works beautifully because its (sucky) search is almost a non-issue given the power of local Windows search (which *does* look “inside” the files that matter–pdf’s and emails–if set up properly). Drew.

Okay, I found the Google Drive search faq here: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2375114?hl=en
(Click on the “advanced search” + sign to get the nitty gritty.)

This is quite disappointing (to me, at least). No proximity searching. Very limited operands.

And, if I’m reading it correctly (which I may not be), it seems to see that it only searches for text (first 100 pages limit) of a “texted based pdf” (whatever they define that to be) *if you first select that file and open it*!!. What good would that be if you’re trying to find the pdf containing that text across hundreds or thousands of your pdfs? I hope this is wrong; maybe its just for pdfs that had not already undergone “text recognition” (in Adobe Acrobat) (aka, “OCR”) before they were uploaded.

I could not replace Windows search with this limited search ability, so need to have Windows index my files, anyway. It would be nice if a cloud service *did* offer searching comparable to Windows search, so that I could (a) cut down my local cpu overhead, and (b) feel better about having tons of files/data *only* in the cloud (and not on my local laptop SSD)–secure in the knowledge that (so long as I have an internet connection), I could only find the “offline” document in the cloud and download it locally. Alas, not yet . . .

Okay, a bit more investigation:

–it takes a little while (for indexing to occur), but if you upload a pdf that has already “been ocr’ed”, then Google Drive will include its contents in its search results. This is good.

Now for the bad: Forget about assuming that because Google has such an awesome search engine for the web, that means you get that power on Google Drive. A seminar paper pdf uploaded to my Drive account last February (10 months ago) contains the following sentence on page 12: “Only those parties who are ‘aggrieved by a district court’s order or judgment may exercise the statutory right to appeal therefrom.’”

The following searches in Google Drive (web interface) yielded NO RESULTS:

“aggrieved near judgment”
“aggrieved w/6 judgment”

The following searches found the document:

“aggrieved judgment”
“aggrieved + judgment”

So no Boolean searching to speak of, including the MOST COMMON: “w/x” (within “x” words); “near”.

This proximity searches above worked flawlessly on my local Windows hardrive search of my DropBox–even returning the same document attached to an email!

By the way, if you search “aggrieved w/6 judgment” or “aggrieved near judgment” in a standard chrome browser window (searching the whole web), you get LOTS of “hits” for similar phrases. In other words, google web search is Boolean; Google Drive is NOT (or is very, very limited).

By the way, it turns out the search function within a pdf document accessed on your Google Drive web (cloud) account is EVEN WORSE–*only single word searches*! So even “aggrieved judgment” or “aggrieved + judgement” would NOT find the sentence when using the ctrl+F “find” function in the online viewer. What this means is that the ability of Google Drive to search a non-ocr’ed PDF online, *if you open it first,* for a phrase is almost worthless. (Almost; its nice that it at least shows you a key word in context.) Note the I did not try searching a non-ocr’ed pdf–I used the same one as above (which, as noted, had been ocr’ed first, to see whether the search function inside of a manually opened pdf was somehow stronger. Nope–much worse.) Drew.

Am thinking about switching to google drive because of a major problem with dropbox. I use a mac and a pc. Dropbox creates “com.dropbox.attributes” files for EVERY FILE I have (and I have thousands).

Dropbox support says this is because of extended attributes in the MAC OS. Fine. But they don’t offer any solution. I am really pissed at them to be frank.

Anyone else had this issue?

Do you know if there is a google drive framework that makes real-time collaboration easy to implement for text writing (other than docs)?

I used to use google docs for collaborative editing under severe deadlines because of the mobwrite syncing capability. Then good docs became drive, and lost its simplicity to become word processor compliant and become inefficient.

Long-story-short, I was uploading my good docs replacement script to share (to godaddy) to find that executables are filtered as maleware (for FTP). Based on this, I will try google drive for sharing s/w, but if you can answer that question, I would be thrilled.

Abot my replacement, if you are curious: http://oddmuse.org/wiki/John_Bessa#h5o-1

Yes, but not with Mac OS. I have Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS, Windows 7 and Linux Mint 14 installed on the same machine, and all three OS’s use the same, common NTFS partition to store and access files in addition to their own partitions, and my Dropbox folder is located in that common NTFS partition. I could not isolate the problem and cannot duplicate it but it seems everytime I open the Dropbox folder from Ubuntu, a :com.dropbox.attributes file is created (and so synched to all machines!) for every file that was there. Deleting them from GUI or even from CLI is a hassle!

Hi, 1 question…hope u can help…i have a dropbox but it is full and i have lotsa pics on my phone…if i eelete pics from my dropbox after adding to my google will they be deleted from my google account when they become deleted from my dropbox?

Thanks Vinay for the great post!
I read through all the comments, which were all helpful. I have also the DropBox or Google Drive dilemma. I tried both (and also Skydrive’s) free versions. Also the web interface, desktop and mobile apps.
The situation is like this. Now I have a laptop with 128 GB SSD, 3-4 external drives and an Android phone. I want to back-up all my photos and videos, mostly coming from my external drives, so I decided to go for 1 TB plan. Besides I will also back up all of my files too, like educational stuff, work documents etc.
I want also to consolidate photos and videos, because I have a lot of duplicates I guess, stored in several drives and folders.
As most of my stuff is stored currently in Google (mail, contact, calendar etc.) and having an Android phone, the obvious answer should be to go for Google Drive.
But it is not as easy, because Drive doesnt let me to define the local folder on external drive. (As a bad old habit, I would like to mirror all the stuff on one of my local 1 GB external drive.) Why is it not working? With DropBox it is okay. Are there any work arounds for that?
Besides I also evaluated the pros and cons of GD and DB.
I like the auto awesome things of google, and I think that they will enhance its features more and more in the future. (DropBox is also stepping forward BTW, but Google might have a lot of perspective with the background of Picasa etc.)
Besides I find the minimalistic style of DropBox more attractive and user friendly. I think there is no concrete answers for this, I have to decide it my own.
But still, I have 2 questions.
1. The local folder on external drive thing, which I just mentioned above.
2. Are there online features for searching and automatic detection of duplicate files (photos mainly) in the cloud? I would love to have them, cause I guess I will have a lot of them. Is it a better solution to consolidate the photos first locally, and back them up afterwards to the cloud? I mean to filter out duplicates, define albums etc.

Thanks for your help! 🙂
Peter

Thanks Vinay for your post. I have been doing a lot of research on this and have decided to go with dropbox. I am very mobile and use my iPad and iPhone for work a lot. I love the ability of accessing Powerpoint and Excel files on my dropbox to view and edit presentations and spreadsheets on the go.

Have you seen the Project Harmony stuff from dropbox? https://dropboxatwork.com/2014/12/dropbox-badge-early-access/ Its actually very cool!

PC Advisor also reviewed the 7 best cloud storage services for 2015 and Dropbox finished on top with the best rating (Google Drive wasn’t far behind!) http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/features/internet/3506734/best-cloud-storage-dropbox-google-drive-onedrive-icloud/

Hi Vinay, I am facing the same dilemma that many of your readers are. I use both Windows and Mac products and have a Samsung phone. I have been using Dropbox for the last few years with no issue (mostly with Mac products) and been quite satisfied. However recently I changed from an iPhone to a Galaxy and I am using Dropbox a lot more as I need to Sync photos into Dropbox automatically to then import onto my Macbook iPhoto program. On doing this I have found that Dropbox keeps importing duplicates and I now have 3 or 4 of each photo in Dropbox photo albums and I am still wasting a lot of time transferring them into iPhoto to be able to edit and “play” with them. I have read through previous comments and none address this issue. Can you help? I need to know if Google Drive will save me time in the transfer process and secondly if there is an easy way to avoid transferring the many duplicates presently in Dropbox across to Drive if I do make the switch. I currently pay for my Dropbox storage so am not concerned about the slight difference in fees. Thank you.

Havent tried it, I think if you disconnect dropbox first it will work fine, if you are still connected to dropbox there may be some problems. Try it on a test file and let me know what happens 🙂

Sorry, didn’t attempt to try. I think it will work though. However, not wise to do, because I’ll probably be just wasting space on my Google Drive. It was good to think about this question though.

Come on Em, try it and then report your suggestion. It seems like you wanted Vinay to try your idea and report on it. It’s your idea, try it and report on it for the betterment of all on this excellent topic. Don’t just pass on the buck.

Vinay, I am having an issue trying to figure out how to store files on Google Drive that I do not want on my computer as well. The issue I am having is that I have too much data on my laptop- so I want to get it off and store it in a safe place. What Google Drive does is mirror the files I put into it- thereby DOUBLING the data on my laptop- how do I make Google Drive an external storage hard drive instead of a mirror?

I loved Dropbox but had to leave it once I found out that Condoleezza Rice was put on the board. That’s just bad.
Since then, I’ve played with Copy and Box and Google Drive, trying to decide among them. None seem to me to be as seamless and fast as the experience I had with Dropbox. But of course I’m quite willing to live with some inconvenience so as not to support any data-oriented organization with Ms. Warrantless Wiretap on their board.

So, between Copy and Box and Google Drive, what are opinions on sync speed and Mac and iPhone viewing of various document formats?

I posted earlier about why I stopped using Dropbox even though I always liked it best (speed, viewers for different formats, iPhone interface, etc.), but the post doesn’t seem to have made it.

Can anyone comment on the comparative sync speeds and accuracies of Copy, Box, and Google Drive? I remember having some unsync-able files in Copy and Box seems to hiccup now and then too.

I believe both Dropbox and Box are hosted on Amazon Web Services, Google is hosted on their own infrastructure I’m assuming. Both Google and Amazon have very powerful infrastructures and it is hard to see a noticeable difference in speed.

I don’t typically post but, I thought my experience recently with Google Drive might help someone comparing it to Dropbox. I recently dicovered that all my Microsoft Office Powerpoint files where corrupted that I saved to my Google Drive. I can open the files using Google Slides but, I loose functionality and some Powerpoint features. Most of my marketing is designed using Powerpoint. While I like to simple and clean look of the Google “Office” styled tools, I was disappointed with this discovery in the middle of a project with a tight dealine. For this reason, I believe I will return to Dropbox. Please share your thoughts on this.

Thank you.

Jack, I couldn’t agree more! Whether the Google world likes it or not, I have to work with MS Office and everything I dump into Google Drive is absolutely ruined. I finally gave up and moved to OneDrive, and even as a Mac user I’ve been VERY happy. I also have Dropbox, but for me, OneDrive is better since it lets me work with my MS Office files on my iOS devices.

Also, I opened a case with Google Support on the corruption of my MS Office files and it got elevated quite a few notches and I was finally told they actually agreed with me…and they are working on a solution. Of course, that solution could be years away 🙂

Hi, its a very good post. Nowadays we need backups just can’t depend on USB drives. Even I was a Dropbox user, but what concerned me was the storage in cloud. I keep lot of my office files in it but unsure of its safety. So recent ally I came across this online data storage service named basefolder – http://www.basefolder.com . they gave me unlimited storage for free. And another major advantage is all the files are save in the personal computer, not on the cloud. This gave me an additional boost to use this service.

Nikil, actually I don’t think Dropbox pricing is too high…you get what you pay for these days. Yes, you can get much less expensive cloud storage other places, but I also don’t think it’s about the money. If you’re a Google person, then I suppose you should use Google Drive. I’m a Google person, but only in the sense that I use Gmail for my personal domain…I actually dislike Google drive, so I don’t use it. It’s a preference and we should each use what suits us best. I have to share a lot of files and there is simply no other service better at sharing than Dropbox.

Lastly, your link to privacy concerns is also a personal issue. Google, and anyone else who wants, has access to your cloud data, so if you’re uncomfortable with that, just don’t put anything in the cloud and live with gigantic hard drives, multiple backup schemes, and other similar unnecessary (to me) things. I backup everything in two cloud services and I could care less who looks at it. I obviously don’t have the keys to my financial institutions there, so who really cares. Do you really think there are people sitting around in rooms painstaking reading all those emails to Uncle Joe or Aunt Sally? If one is foolish enough to include sensitive data, that’s another story, but you shouldn’t do that.

I personally use both and don’t pay either one at this point, since I have a 2 year promo with Dropbox and an academic account with Google which gives much more room for free. My main issue with Google drive after using Dropbox is that whenever I want to post a revised version of a file, it makes a duplicate, then I have to go and delete the prior version. Maybe it’s not that big of an issue, but considering I do that quite frequently when I access files on PCs at school and then later at home, it becomes a pain.

I recently discovered a very helpful tool called MultCloud http://www.multcloud.com, which lets you see all your cloud drives in one place, permitting you to search and transfer files between them from different providers. It is great! Check it out.

Vinay,

You mention you use Trello for organizational stuff. How do you differentiate on when to you Process Street and/or Trello? Do you integrate their functionality, or do you typically have specific times when you use each?

Hi Vinay,

Thanks for all the good information you have provided.

I got 54GB of free space in DropBox last year, and I used all of it. ( Free service).

Now today I tried to access my files in DB, but to my surprise all my files were gone. I checked for the event logs, and found the deleted message. I googled to find ways to restore, but I cannot seem to find the restore option. I don’t remember deleting any of my files.

Can you please help me restore the files.

Thank you.

What about the bandwidth limits? I have shared files across the internet and they create excessive public links. So, once in a while my Dropbox account get temporarily disabled.

you can use symbolic link to let the cloud agent sync folders located in different partition, or use LVM (logical volume manager) to create a file system on top of different partition (from different harddisk)

these tricks works on Linux, they should also work on Mac (not tested)

Dear Vinay,
One question. What do you think is the best platform to backup big size files?
I want to backup some documents but unforuntaley I cannot install any application.

Hi Cesar

I think all the main ones work great. Google Drive, Dropbox, Box & Onedrive.

I’d be looking at their other features and pricing to make your decision since all of them handle backing up files great as a core functionality.

Hi Vinay!

Thank you for the post and the replies of comments. Do you know if Google or Dropbox have some thing like a “family plan”? Me and my wife has a lot of photos of our wedding and our trips and I don’t want that only one account have access to this files. I know the share feature, but I think in this model we both need to have a big space os data (1Tb plan).

Thanks for the discussion. Just a tip.
I noticed many have limitations of their MacBooks SSD; I suggest a Transcend JetDrive for your SD slot. It doesn’t hang out, is flush and out of the way. Easy way to double your storage(or more). Amazon has ’em.
I use it as my Sync drive for DropBox and G-Drive too.
No connection with Transcend by the way.

I realize this is an older post, but at this point you’ve been using Google Drive for a while, right? Just wondering if there is a way to see the timestamp on a file (on the web; I know I can see it if it’s sync’d to my computer, but I ran out of space, so I un-sync’d most of my files).

Thanks!
JMF

Hi JM, yes there are time stamps and a detailed activity feed on everything that has happened with that file, should be on the right when you have a file selected.

Hi Vinay;
I have a question. Can I install both google drive and dropbox on same computer and log in into both of them using same email address and then use each of them to store different data/folders?

Regards;
Adeel

Does anyone know if a cloud storage service offers image based search? Meaning, I search my files for a picture, using a copy of that picture, to find its job folder.

I use both DropBox and Google Drive. But am also considering buying either a WD or Seagate personal cloud drive. Do you have any experience with either of those and would you recommend one over the other? May still keep DropBox and Google Drive as well, but would love to move to my own “cloud” drive at home.

I’m abandoning Google Drive myself. The deal breaker for me was the time-stamp problem. When you upload a file to Drive, it throws away the time-stamp on the file and applies the upload time and date. This is really a brain-dead feature for a file-storage app/service.

Google Drive has some really stupid cons:
– You cannot tag your files. (there are ways around but very inconvenient and confusing)
– You cannot search within a folder. (if you have a big database of files used by the whole organization, a search return thousand results)
– Sometimes search results are not accurate at all. There seems a problem with the indexing of google documents.

I have been waiting google drive to improve on these aread for ages but they seem they are not doing any major improvement.

Suppose I delete my local copy of a file because I do not need it any more, or because it’s a duplicate, or corrupt, or whatever
— will it reappear there because sync will ensure a parity between cloud and local drive; thus, defeating the very purpose with which I deleted the local file in first place?
— if yes, then to ensure it doesn’t do so, do I have to delete it simultaneously from cloud as well, and while doing so do I have to stop syncing, lest it downloads the deleted file before I could delete it from cloud?
— does sync work the same way for Google Drive and OneDrive?
Thanks.

Great article! I have used dropbox for years in the last year or so started using Google Drive. I really like drive and was thinking about moving totally into it rather then drop box. Your column came at the right time in my search. My one question is, what is the best way to back up everything in Google drive so that you have a safety net.? Thanks!

really confused about what to use for backup–I do consulting for banks//U S GSE’s–need to back up emails//files// etc; Google Drive vs. dropbox vs external hard drive ???? novice at this stuff–help

Yes, using Google Drive besides the factor price will make integration much, much less painful, however, (May/2016) for the past two months or so, Google Drive did not work in my workplace – I could not login -gd said “unable to connect”- and I could not update my files at home or at work and expect them to keep synchronized…. so as a last resource, I installed at work, the iDrive share … it’s not stellar either, but it got the sync job done.
Today (05/25/2016) I was happy to find out that Google Drive is working at my workplace once again…. at the same time I am afraid to be happy too early: I have lots of files at home which are not showing on my work computer…. (sigh…) more debug is needed….

So I get this one day when trying to access my shared link from dropbox. “Error (429) This account’s links are generating too much traffic and have been temporarily disabled!” I Submit a Support Ticket. “Pierre from Dropbox”: As I understand it, your shared links have been temporarily banned. There are a couple of reasons why you could see a ‘Restricted Content’ error or an inability to share links on your account. First, a file may have been taken down due to it being recognized as malware. If you often share executables, this is a more likely scenario. Could you please explain what any executables do that you’ve shared recently and what the file’s purpose is?
Second, you may have hit a bandwidth limit depending on your sharing habits and how public your links are. Please be aware that users re-sharing your Dropbox link will still contribute to your daily limit of downloads, and repeated downloads each count towards the overall number that are allowed per day. Once I have that information, I can investigate and see if removing the ban is appropriate. If you need anything else, please let me know!
This is my response! First, How do I monitor my bandwidth allowance/see the amount of usage per a link(if theres not then I guess how am I supposed to answer that question)?
Second, Why was I not notified that my links were disabled(Dropbox doesn’t have a email server)? Since you limited my account/service without prior authorization how am I to be reimbursed? Or is it just your policy that when you want whenever you want you can disable someones service(I sure its buried in your TOS, love it when its in your fine print).
I work in the security field so its possible some of my files that I work on are possible to be interpreted as malware. But I guess its always better to just cut someone service off without asking or warning(genius in terms of a policy, pretty much every other provider I have worked with give a warning and a ability to dispute but I guess you guys have a support ticket system that takes 2 days to receive a cut and paste form your support section).
If this is not resolved by the 14th, I will be moving to Google Drive. Eh, As i wrote that I literally felt why the F*** would I give you more money… Canceling me payments now.
Ohh P.S – I showed a few of my colleagues this post. One said hes canceling right now. Others said they were thinking of switching to you but they are happy they didn’t. Good luck slowly loosing to Google/Microsoft/Apple…

I found this glowing review to be a true rarity in a world where drive is usually found to be far inferior to Dropbox. I like many many people found that syncing between devices with drive is slow and erratic. Sometimes it just wont sync with certain devices at certain times. Other times some files sync and not others. I really wanted it to work and tried everything but went back to db. Dropbox is fast and reliable. During my failed attempt I noticed an incredible amount of people posting similar problems with syncing, most never finding solutions. Dropbox simply doesn’t have this issue.

Also, I think its important to note that any violation of vague google rules on any google service can result in google permanently suspending you access to any google service and that includes your drive files. That’s a risk you dont need to deal with using Dropbox.


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