Pinpointing the main driver of the cloud computing paradigm can be a bit difficult. Some Internet analysts believe that the demands of Web 2.0 were the true catalyst, while others are more likely to bring up rapid advances in mobile technology ever since the late Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. Whatever the case may be, what is certain is that the rising ubiquity of Internet connections and the current direction of personal computing devices make cloud storage and syncing services a necessity.
As cloud computing continues to become a global IT standard, cloud storage services are fighting for market share. The modern three giants of cloud storage and file synchronicity were defined a few years ago: Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive; choosing between these three services is a matter of evaluating their features, strengths, and weaknesses. All three of these services are still available for free; however, their paid subscription models are increasingly being considered by users who are convinced that cloud computing is here to stay.
The free option offered by these three cloud giants makes it easy to sign up for all three for evaluation purposes; nonetheless, most users end up sticking with a single one they can use across all their devices, and many of these users end up getting a subscription later down the line.
Here are the pros, cons, features, and pricing points of the cloud storage giants:
With its massive data centers spread across the entire world, this Internet giant is certainly capable of providing cloud computing services. Right off the bat, Google Drive offers 15 GB of cloud storage for free, which is an extremely generous offering, and this can be easily increased to 100 GB with a monthly subscription that is just under two dollars per month.
Google Drive will greatly appeal to anyone who has a Google account, and the option to upgrade for just $1.99 per month is very enticing for users whose digital lives demand more storage space; however, don’t expect to get a discount on annual subscriptions. For business users, Google Apps Unlimited is an even better option at $10 per month per user; this option grants unlimited storage, or at 1 TB per user if there are five or fewer users. The office-style apps are very basic: Docs, Sheets, and Slides are good enough for simple productivity tasks and collaboration, but many business users will probably gravitate to full-featured suites.
This cloud storage and synchronicity service is rarely offered or marketed as a standalone solution. The free 5 GB option includes Outlook and MS Office Online, which are very powerful apps for more basic users. The 50 GB plan at $1.99 per month can be easily upgraded to 1 TB for just $5 per month.
OneDrive is more interesting when combined with one of the various Office 365 plans you can choose from, which start at $6 per month or $5 per month on an annual basis. In this case, OneDrive with 1 TB of storage space is bundled with extras such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Exchange and Outlook with a 50 GB email capacity.
In the end, the free Google Drive may work out better for users whose storage needs are not significant. For more storage, Dropbox can be a good option when the free plan is expanded. Microsoft offers the best middle of the road solution when combined with an Office 365 subscription due to the value-added apps.
When it comes to simplicity, Dropbox is perfect for most users. Whereas Google and Microsoft tend to favor their own ecosystems when it comes to their cloud services, Dropbox works across devices and operating systems without any problems. The free 2 GB plan can be expanded to 16 GB by recommending friends, but this can be easily upgraded to 1 TB for the Pro version at $10 per month, which includes a nice integration with Microsoft Office documents plus a two-month discount on an annual subscription.
Dropbox business offers a $15 per month per user plan when five or more users sign up. The added collaboration, security and file management features make this Dropbox plan interesting for business users who need to protect their internal documents, as well as client files, and the storage space is unlimited; however, not much is offered in terms of productivity outside of the MS Office integration.