In a head-to-head matchup, it’s hard to place a bet on Google Drive vs Dropbox. Both are great cloud storage services with plenty of space and free options for those who don’t need enterprise-level cloud storage.
They both offer a lot of common features, including backing up files to the cloud, syncing files across devices, and letting you share your files with other people. At first glance, they seem to be the same service, just from different companies.
However, Google Drive and Dropbox do have their differences. If you’re wondering which is best, you’ll want to dive deeper into how they sync, back up, and share your files — not to mention their varying security measures. Here’s a look at how they stack up against each other in five key areas.
File sharing features
Both Google Drive and Dropbox offer two-factor authentication and encrypt your data when it’s in transit — from the cloud storage service to your device, and vice versa. However, Dropbox uses a stronger version of encryption to keep your files safe when they’re being stored — Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption. The U.S. National Security Agency has approved this encryption standard to protect information that has been classified top secret.
Google Drive only uses 128-bit encryption for data at rest (in storage).
Security winner: Dropbox
If your primary use for Google Drive or Dropbox is free storage, Google Drive is the clear winner. Google Drive offers 15 GB of free storage, while Dropbox only gives you 2 GB. However, you can get an extra 500 MB of storage space for every friend you refer to Dropbox, for a maximum of 19 GB of free storage space.
One caveat about Google Drive is that if you use Gmail, Google Photos, or other Google products, you could very easily burn through those 15 GB before you know it.
Free storage winner: Google Drive
When you need more than the 2 GB or 15 GB that Dropbox and Google Drive offer, respectively, you can upgrade to paid storage. Dropbox’s plans start at $11.99 per month for up to 2 TB of storage, or $9.99 per month if you pay annually. When you upgrade to paid storage with Dropbox, you also get features like Dropbox Smart Sync, which lets you access your cloud files from your desktop without saving them to your hard drive, and mobile offline folders so you can sync folders to your mobile device and access them without an internet connection.
To get 2 TB of storage with Google Drive, you have to upgrade to Google One, a subscription service. Google One does cost less — $99.99 per year vs Dropbox’s $119.88 per year.
Paid storage winner: Google Drive
Both Google Drive and Dropbox let you share files and folders. They’re pretty much the same when it comes to granting permissions or sharing links. However, Dropbox does edge out Google Drive when it comes to securing your shared files. You can set passwords on shared files in Dropbox so that only people who have that password can access them. You can also set an expiration date for sharing, and after the date passes, the file-sharing link won’t work.
Dropbox also makes it a little easier to share files directly from Windows Explorer or Mac OS Finder. Both let you right-click on a file or folder to share it via email, but Dropbox also adds a “Copy Dropbox link” option that you can paste into an email or a Slack channel, for example. When someone joins or leaves your team, you can promote anyone to owner status of the files, and the owner can then remove someone entirely from accessing the files.
File sharing winner: Dropbox
Google Drive and Dropbox use different methods for syncing, which affects sync speed. While both automatically save files, Google downloads and uploads the entire document to sync it. This can result in delays if you’re trying to access the latest version of the document from another device. Additionally, if you lose your internet connection while Google is syncing your files, you could lose the work you’ve done.
On the other hand, Dropbox syncs changes to a file in blocks. It’s much faster and, if you’re using collaboration features in Dropbox, the changes appear more quickly for everyone. You also don’t have to wait as long if you want to access the latest version of your file on another device.
Syncing winner: Dropbox
In the battle of Dropbox vs Google Drive, the best cloud storage service is Dropbox, by a nose. It just edges out Google Drive based on security, but its slightly easier file sharing and faster syncing also make it a better service, particularly for those who collaborate on a lot of documents.