The Cloud Storage Showdown – Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

image   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & MoreThe cloud storage scene has heated up recently, with a long-awaited entry by Google and a revamped SkyDrive from Microsoft. Dropbox has gone unchallenged by the major players for a long time, but that’s changed – both Google and Microsoft are now challenging Dropbox on its own turf, and all three services have their own compelling features. One thing’s for sure – Dropbox is no longer the one-size-fits-all solution.

These three aren’t the only cloud storage services – the cloud storage arena is full of services with different features and priorities, including privacy-protecting encryption and the ability to synchronize any folder on your system.


Dropbox introduced cloud storage to the masses, with its simple approach to cloud storage and synchronization – a single magic folder that follows you everywhere. Dropbox deserves credit for being a pioneer in this space and the new Google Drive and SkyDrive both build on the foundation that Dropbox laid.

Dropbox doesn’t have strong integration with any ecosystems – which can be a good thing, as it is an ecosystem-agnostic approach that isn’t tied to Google, Microsoft, Apple, or any other company’s platform.

image1   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

Dropbox today is a compelling and mature offering supporting a wide variety of platforms. Dropbox offers less free storage than the other services (unless you get involved in their referral scheme) and its prices are significantly higher than those of competing services – for example, an extra 100GB is four times more expensive with Dropbox compared to Google Drive.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Blackberry, Web.
  • Free Storage: 2 GB (up to 16 GB with referrals).
  • Price for Additional Storage: 50 GB for $10/month, 100 GB for $20/month.
  • File Size Limit: Unlimited.
  • Standout Features: the Public folder is an easy way to share files. Other services allow you to share files, but it isn’t quite as easy. You can sync files from other computers running Dropbox over the local network, speeding up transfers and taking a load off your Internet connection.

image2   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

Google Drive

Google Drive is the evolution of Google Docs, which already allowed you to upload any file – Google Drive bumps the storage space up from 1 GB to 5 GB, offers desktop sync clients, and provides a new web interface and APIs for web app developers.

Google Drive is a serious entry from Google, not just an afterthought like the upload-any-file option was in Google Docs.

sshot 21   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

Its integration with third-party web apps – you can install apps and associate them with file types in Google Drive – shows Google’s vision of Google Drive being a web-based hard drive that eventually replaces the need for desktop sync clients entirely.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, Web, iOS (coming soon), Linux (coming soon).
  • Free Storage: 5 GB.
  • Price for Additional Storage: 25 GB for $2.49/month, 100 GB for $4.99/month.
  • File Size Limit: 10 GB.
  • Standout Features: Deep search with automatic OCR and image recognition, web interface that can launch files directly in third-party web apps.

image3   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

You can actually purchase up to 16 TB of storage space with Google Drive – for $800/month!


Microsoft released a revamped SkyDrive the day before Google Drive launched, but Google Drive stole its thunder. Nevertheless, SkyDrive is now a compelling product, particularly for people into Microsoft’s ecosystem of Office web apps, Windows Phone, and Windows 8, where it’s built into Metro by default.

Like Google with Google Drive, Microsoft’s new SkyDrive product imitates the magic folder pioneered by Dropbox.

image4   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

Microsoft offers the most free storage space at 7 GB – although this is down from the original 25 GB. Microsoft also offers good prices for additional storage.

  • Supported Platforms: Windows, Mac, Windows Phone, iOS, Web.
  • Free Storage: 7 GB.
  • Price for Additional Storage: 20 GB for $10/year, 50 GB for $25/year, 100 GB for $50/year
  • File Size Limit: 2 GB
  • Standout Features: Ability to fetch unsynced files from outside the synced folders on connected PCs, if they’ve been left on.

image5   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

Other Services

SugarSync is a popular alternative to Dropbox. It offers a free 5 GB of storage and it lets you choose the folders you want to synchronize – a feature missing in the above services, although you can use some tricks to synchronize other folders. SugarSync also has clients for mobile platforms that don’t get a lot of love, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry (Dropbox also has a Blackberry client).

image6   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

Amazon also offers their own cloud storage service, known as Amazon Cloud Drive. There’s one big problem, though – there’s no official desktop sync client. Expect Amazon to launch their own desktop sync program if they’re serious about competing in this space. If you really want to use Amazon Cloud Drive, you can use a third-party application to access it from your desktop.

image7   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

Box is popular, but its 25 MB file size limit is extremely low. It also offers no desktop sync client (except for businesses). While Box may be a good fit for the enterprise, it can’t stand toe-to-toe with the other services here for consumer cloud storage and syncing.

image8   The Cloud Storage Showdown   Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More

If you’re worried about the privacy of your data, you can use an encrypted service, such as SpiderOak or Wuala, instead. Or, if you prefer one of these services, use an app like BoxCryptor to encrypt files and store them on any cloud storage service.

Which service do you use and why? Did we miss any important features here? Leave a comment and let us know.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.



I use Syncplicity and have been very happy with it. It does not get mentioned in lists like this. I wonder why not? I use it for backup and to keep several computers synced.

Paul Schwartz

I second your use of Syncplicity. For me the must have feature is that you can sync any directory on your file system, not just the ones under some root directory.

Chris Hoffman

I tried to focus on the big-name, popular ones — especially SkyDrive and Google Drive, which are the new ones. There are so many services to choose from!

Why do you two prefer Syncplicity? What does it offer over SugarSync, which also offers the ability to sync any directory?

Sid James

You can always create a link directory (or junction if you’re on XP) using mklink. Seems to work find with Skydrive but not with Google Drive.

Chris Hoffman

SkyDrive certainly has the lead if you need MS Office formats.

Personally, I get plenty of work done without ever touching an MS Office file. These days, with tablets and iPads and smartphones without Office, many people are realizing Office isn’t necessary for everyone.

Suresh Volam

I like SkyDrive because of the 25 GB disk space it offers. Of course, they have reduced the limit to 7 GB, but I feel when people reach 7 GB, they might increase to 25 GB.

Does any one know any other provider with more space and security in line with Sky Drive or Google Drive?

Chris Hoffman

I believe you can get a lot of free space with Dropbox through referrals and other promotions.

A quick Google reveals people saying the maximum free space is 32GB, at least.

Of course, it’s a bit more work to get, but it is free.

christian fillion

our business uses dropbox and it does everything thst we need with perfection.

Chris Hoffman

Dropbox has had a long time to carve itself out a niche. It has a really nice interface and works well for most people. Google Drive and SkyDrive will probably get a lot of users just because of their brand associations — it would be tough for a smaller player to seriously challenge Dropbox.

Blake Barker

I actually use Minus as my cloud storage…. Google Drive I use mainly for my documents for school.

Chris Hoffman

Looks nice and simple, but I can’t see a desktop sync client — that’s a really nice feature.


Looks like they now have a desktop app – “The Minus desktop app allows you to drag-n-drop photos, music, documents and files into the taskbar and instantly upload onto Minus.” –

Great article, by the way, Chris!

Chris Hoffman


Minus looks like more of a sharing system than a cloud storage system, though. For example, I don’t see any way to sync files between computers, only upload from the desktop.


Very true. I wonder if one can download the desktop app on different computers (same account) to share the same online folder. I’m just now dipping into the info and am trying to figure out how to share a folder with others (different accounts) like I can with Dropbox.


Looks like other users get to access your folders via link, whether folders are private or public. Private folders just aren’t viewable in Minus’ ‘Explore’ or ‘Profile’ sections. One can get quite a bit of storage from referrals (50GB), but this style may not be exactly what I’m looking for. However, I did find tons of great art, images, etc. while browsing!

Chris Hoffman

Sounds like a good cloud sharing system, but not a good private cloud storage system.

Raja Chowdhury

I somehow feel that though with Cloud, Google has more visibility over Microsoft with Google Apps being a predecessor to Office365, somehow Microsoft have winner in their hand with Skydrive and going forward if they integrate it with their Office365 offerings, then it should give Google a run for their money. However, even as a standalone totally free solution, with 7GB storage, free MS Office Web Apps, document collaboration, for the past few months, it has become my cloud solution of choice. I personally feel, Microsoft has got it here, only they need to integrate it with Office365. :)

Chris Hoffman

I’ve actually never used Office365, although I have used Google Docs — what makes Office365 better? Is it the support for MS Office file formats?

Paulo Roberto

What about Ubuntu One? It’s a great app for cloud storage as well.


SkyDrive all d way. Syncs nicely.
I use Dropbox for syncing with my iPad apps though.

Chris Hoffman

They all work pretty similarly, now that Microsoft and Google have both imitated Dropbox. I think it depends on which ecosystem you prefer, really.


What do you guys think about Bitcasa?


Bitcasa scary!

Chris Hoffman

Never heard of it — “infinite storage?” That’s quite a promise. It does make me a bit skeptical.

Joe Wilson

Great review, but where’s live drive? 2TB for 9.99 has to be worth a mention surely?

Chris Hoffman

Never even heard of it! Sounds like a great deal, although there’s no free tier, so that’s a problem.

Danny S

If you have a lifetime of patience then livedrive is for you. Over the past couple of weeks have tested nearly every service. Am fortunate to have a 1gb data center connection on my machine, livedrive is painfully slow. It would be faster to walk with crutches to their servers.

Chris Hoffman

Ouch, that’s quite the harsh review. I laughed, though!


Livedrive is a truck (VS a sport car)

Mitesh Budhabhatti

Nice comparison

Chris Hoffman

Thanks! I could always add additional services, but there are way too many to mention them all.


dropbox is better one thumbs up

Chris Hoffman

Any specific reason you prefer Dropbox over the others? Does it have a feature lacking in them?


You forgot about

Chris Hoffman

I mentioned Box near the end. I don’t feel like it’s really in the same category, with its file size limitations and lack of a desktop sync client. It seems more focused on the enterprise.


I started with Dropbox, but now I’ve also signed up for Google Drive and SkyDrive. I started using SkyDrive more mainly because I got in on the early promotion as a current user for 25GB of space for free! Can’t beat that! Overall I’ve got 32.5GB between the three.

Dropbox may have been the innovator, but now they are falling behind. Only 2.5GB in my Dropbox, and by far the highest prices to add more.

I use the Amazon Cloud Drive mainly just for music, since I buy most of my digital music from them, and they started offering unlimited music uploads for free. Haven’t tried the others.


One feature of Dropbox is that it keeps old versions of your files. None of the others do that.


That’s what source control is for. I use Mercurial/Git locally even for documents and other files I’m working on. Upload them to bitbucket, which gives unlimited private repositories for free. Can go back to any version easily on any computer.

Chris Hoffman

That’s a pretty clever solution, actually. I’ve never considered using such system for files — it may be a bit redundant with all services offering versioning (and Windows itself having a “previous versions” feature for files), though.


I use Skydrive as my primary system, and I use its versioning feature all the time. It keeps every version of your files and folders.

Chris Hoffman

Google Drive does, actually (for 30 days or 100 revisions). They all seem to


You clearly don’t know what your talking about. File recovery and revisions are not available on sky drive, so all the space in the world means nothing if something should happen (virus/malware/accident deletes file in your sky drive folder and quickly sync’ed; ALL is lost and unrecoverable).

Why don’t you actually try using the services on both desktop and mobile clients and perform both business and personal work and see the short comings of each and then post a useful blog.

Dropbox wins hands down at this point in time. Best sync, more details (sync) in that department than anyone else. Best mobile client’s. Selective sync per device, file revisions for ALL files. Undo’s, the list goes on. Sky drive just allow you more data to be lost, no selective sync (there goes GB’s of personal pictures to your corporate PC at work) in the dark with the sync. Google drive is not flexible for the real world; their iOS client blows. You complain about MSOffice tied to sky drive, google is worse with there sh^tty google docs. If a client send me a .docx file I don’t want to convert it. I want to open it (even in mobile) and edit it and sync the change (web/mobile of local client) as the source file that it is and send it back to them. When on the go, work with each vendors web version and see which is the fastest and easiest to work with, what? dropbox. Its not just about how much free space! Yes none are perfect but using all three (I) you can tell which is best by a long shot. And right now its dropbox. IF microsoft could do exactly what dropbox already has then there would be something to compare. Data loss is not a comparision.

Chris Hoffman

Wow, why so hostile? I was aware of file versioning existing in SkyDrive, but it appears it is indeed only for Office files — that’s bizarre. Sorry if I mislead you.

To say that “Google Drive is not flexible for the real world” because “their iOS client blows” and you don’t like Google Docs, well:

My “real world use” is using Android, where the Google Drive client is solid. I also never use MS Office, only Google Docs occasionally — so Google Drive works for me.

I feel more confident about the security with Google. I have two-factor authentication set up with my Google account and Google’s never had widespread security problems.

In comparison, Dropbox offers no two-factor authentication and has had a series of high-profile security problems, including a period of three hours or so when they allowed anyone to log into any account without bothering to check passwords.

For my real-world use, where I care about security, I’d say that Dropbox is not suitable.

But of course, we all have different priorities and different solutions are ideal for different people.

Chris Hoffman

SkyDrive definitely is the winner in terms of storage space, especially if you got the limited-time 25 GB offer.

Dropbox will have to reduce its prices to compete, that’s for sure.

I believe Google offers a huge amount of music uploading space with Google Music, too. I’m not in the US so I haven’t been able to play with Google Music, though.

i’ve been using mozy for backup and it does versioning realy well. they’ve recently launched a desktop sync folder client like dropbox, it’s named stash it think. it shares the free 2gb with the backup app. overal i highy recommend mozy for backup purposes.
been using dropbox for a few mobths and i think it’s just great. one can use promotions and refferals to go get a lot more than the free 2gb. to me this is the best and simplest. it’s stable, works well on android.
started using a little google drive that seems like a nice thing. however it’s quite unstable for now so i would not trust them with my files. the ocr thing may prove useful. love google docs. could be great it they polish it some more.

Chris Hoffman

Interesting. I haven’t run into any stability problems with Drive. I suppose it is new, though.

I’ve heard of Mozy Stash — seems like a good option for Mozy users, although I don’t see why I’d go out of my way to use Mozy for 2 GB of space, as someone who isn’t already a user.


google drive, the one i’ve been waiting for ages, manages to crash explorer.exe process from time to time. this happened after i installed it. i don’t trust it yet and have some mixed feelings for now.

mozy offers great services, stable, just works. i’m actually using a little over 1gig as i use that for source code, config files, sql scripts mainly. they kinda have to up the game a little to compete now there are more players. however i think they are tops regarding quality.

Chris Hoffman

Hopefully they’ll fix that. It’s new, after all.

Either way, it’s good for everyone to have competition heating up.

Esger Jellema

With dropBox, I discovered that, when I take part in a shared folder of a friend, the space taken by this folder gets subtracted from my storage amount as well.
This might be inevitable but it means they get payed twice for the same space – when we look at payed accounts.
Of course that’s a minor concern, but I can still warn you for taking part in (large) shared folders because it will lessen your space as well.

Chris Hoffman

Thanks for pointing that out. That is a bit ridiculous when you consider how expensive their additional storage is.


I think this is the worst problem in dropbox, considering sharing is one of their main features. I’m not going to pay for any space with them. I’m using Google Drive. We are using Google Drive at the office too.

Chris Hoffman

Hopefully the competition will force Dropbox to up their game and become more reasonable. Ideally, competition should benefit everyone, no matter which service they choose.


I can’t see how you can beat Skydrive. The other day, I completed a Word presentation on my PC. Since my default storage location is SkyDrive it automatically synced. While on the train to a meeting, I used my Windows phone to check over it. Since SkyDrive is accessible from Windows Phone, I can see the document and because Windows phone can open Word docs, I could read through it and fix the errors I had made. Because it is automatically synced back to the cloud, at the meeting, I started up my laptop, and the document had updated! Much easier to make last minute small edits to a doc on a crowded train with a phone , knowing that they will save to the cloud. Even if you completely screw it up, sky drive keeps every version, so you can go back if needed.

Chris Hoffman

Your story sounds like a vision from a Microsoft ad! If you’re really involved in the Microsoft ecosystem (Office, Windows Phone, etc), SkyDrive is definitely the one to choose.

Me, I don’t use Office, or Windows Phone. I have an Android phone — no official SkyDrive app there. I never use Office — I use Google Docs or more basic text editors. And I use Linux occasionally — Dropbox supports Linux, Google Drive will, and I’m sure Microsoft will never support Linux. So SkyDrive isn’t for me.

Martin Bull

Browser for SkyDrive is available for Android and SkyDrive is available for iPad.

Chris Hoffman

True, there are third-party apps for Android — but it’s kind of obnoxious not to have a first-class, first-party app.


The actual “sync” process should also be mentioned. Is just the changed portion of the file up loaded, or is the whole file? I deal in files that are several gigs in total, but will have as little as 1K of actual change. So how would each of the services hand the sync? This distinction never seems to get mentioned…

Chris Hoffman

Good question! I looked it up and it appears that Dropbox has this feature, while I don’t think either Google Drive or SkyDrive do.

If you work with a lot of big files, I suppose Dropbox is the clear winner of the three at the moment.

Mike H

Picasa Web sync is terrible – minor header changes lead to re-uploads of the entire full image. This is a major pain if you have 50 GB of images and limited bandwidth. So if Google Drive is anything like Picasa Web Sync I am staying well away from it.

Dropbox only syncs the changes and is therefore blazing fast for small modifications.


skydrive is there since 2007. I have been seeing it since last Aug atleast… and if I am not wrong google drive came in recently…

Chris Hoffman

SkyDrive has been around for a while, but Microsoft “relaunched” it the day before Google Drive released. It now has a Dropbox-style desktop sync client and a lower storage limit (25GB -> 7GB).

Manuel Kröber

Don’t forget, Dropbox is offering *all* file revisions for 30 days (on free accounts, more on paid ones) so you can restore this one important word documents you just replaced by accident with like 2 clicks.

Chris Hoffman

I believe Google Drive and SkyDrive offer this, too — it takes up storage space (at least on Google Drive), but you have more storage space than Dropbox to begin with.

Manuel Kröber

Thanks for the info, will check them out :)


I’m pretty sure Microsoft Pioneered the “Magic Folder” concept with Live Mesh.

Chris Hoffman

Really? I thought Dropbox launched first — even if Microsoft did, Dropbox definitely made the concept simple enough that it caught on.

Kevin Casey

Our business uses SyncBlaze which is perfect for business users. Our IT admins are completely satisfied with its admin management capabilities unlike other consumer-focused services. Personally, my choice is Sugarsync which I have been using for quite some time and would look no further for any alternative.

Chris Hoffman

Interesting. I think an article about enterprise/business cloud storage services would be a great idea — I don’t know enough about them to write it myself, though.

Kevin Casey

It is definitely a great idea Chris, because businesses have already started adopting such collaboration services in their workplace and encourage their employees to use them. EOD it increases productivity as well as enhances team work.


I use DropBox which I love. However, all these services have one big problem: all of them have access to my hosted files as nothing is encrypted. They are happily going to share my data with any law enforcement party. The only two services that offer encryption are wuala and spideroak. However, each comes with it’s own negatives which I can’t get over (can’t conenct from work because I need to install client, slow servers etc.). Basically that makes me think og setting up my own cloud at home, either pogoplug, tonido or something similar…


Yes but that is rather uncomfortable and again, you can’t use it in many places because of the client install :) I am testing out CloudFogger now let’s see how that goes

Chris Hoffman

Interesting. There are lots of options for client-side encryption of cloud data — that sounds like a good topic for a post. Thanks!

some guy

dropbox doesnt work well with folder redirection

google didn;t like uploading a large pdf, or wanted to convert my word doc into a google doc

skydrive works well, free upgrade to 25gb, works well with office docs, syncs well

personal preference (as i use hotmail anyway): skydrive

Chris Hoffman

Well, you can tell Google not to convert your Word docs into Google Docs. But SkyDrive may be the best bet for you with the storage and Hotmail integration.

Bob Lindabury

I think the thing all of you may be missing here and which is briefly mentioned in the article as a “Standout Feature” of SkyDrive is that you can access all your shared drives from all of your computers if they are on and connected to the internet. This also includes mapped network drives!

I have multiple machines at home and at work that I leave on and with SkyDrive I have access to all my files no matter where they reside be it in cloud storage, or on my mapped network drives or on my hard drives on any of my Windows Vista and above machines. There is no WindowsXP client yet.

All that and the fact that I got in with the 25Gb of free storage plan makes SkyDrive the winner overall for me. I still use all of the services and Dropbox seems to have the best smartphone apps and is very easy to use via the web interface if you needed.

Chris Hoffman

That is a really cool feature. It’s nice to see every player offering compelling featuers.

Gates VP

Like Google with Google Drive, Microsoft’s new SkyDrive product imitates the magic folder pioneered by Dropbox.

So Microsoft has a product called Windows Live Mesh that does exactly what Dropbox does (except support every platform). It was launched right around the same time as Dropbox, in parallel with early versions of the Skydrive.

So calling it “imitation” is pretty short-sighted, especially given what we know about MS’s dev times.

In any case, you should really add Live Mesh to this list. Yes, I know it’s a second MS product, but it’s a product that competes with Google Drive and Dropbox, where as Skydrive is not.

Chris Hoffman

Interesting. I actually had no idea — I thought Live Mesh was launched later. I apologize for missing that

Either way, though — Dropbox has a lot more mindshare than Live Mesh ever did. Dropbox caught on, while Live Mesh didn’t catch on nearly as much.

The new SkyDrive is Microsoft’s big cloud storage play — it does compete directly with Google Drive and Dropbox. It didn’t used to, but the relaunched version does. I think it’s a bit bizarre that they have two different programs that do — I’d expect them to discontinue Live Mesh or combine it with SkyDrive soon.

Gates VP

AFAIK, live mesh is in the process of being merged. In fact, it’s taking a share of my LiveDrive storage space.

The merger will likely take a little longer as it has an extra key feature on top of sync. You can also enable it for remote computer access to other boxes running live mesh.

So I can not only share files and sync specific folders, but I can also log into my other Windows boxes just like a Remote Desktop session.

Chris Hoffman

Interesting. I had no idea Live Mesh had other features. It actually sounds decent — it’s too bad it never caught on, I suppose.

k nath

theres also adrive ( with 50 gb of free space. in my college where i access the net through a proxy; dropbox, skydrive, g drive..all have failed. but adrive has rescued me.

Chris Hoffman

Wow, that’s a lot of free space. I was looking for a catch — it seems like you have to pay for access to the desktop client. Looks like a potentially decent option for web-based use, though.


What about ShareFile from Citrix?
It’s a Enterprise ready service with encryption today and on premise option soon.

Chris Hoffman

Never heard of it. Sounds a bit enterprise-y — is it targeted at average people?


I have skydrive, google drive, logmein’s cubby, and box. They are all great but my LG phone got 50gb free on box and I really don’t need to upload more than 25mb at a time and i like the ability to stream some music. (Most of it is music files or apks). I also managed to keep my 25gb on skydrive but their mobile division is terrible and that’s a big feature I need. Google drive I have little to say about because it’s essentially google docs with a desktop client. Cubby is pretty much an experiment for me but it looks nice and i like the ability to stream online. My first choice would definitely be Box and a close second would either be cubby or google drive.

Chris Hoffman

Interesting. I guess Box is good for some people, especially ones that get so much storage free.

Personally, I think Box offers so much space because its limitations (no desktop sync client, only small files) make the space hard to use.

When Microsoft changed SkyDrive from 25 GB to 7 GB, they said it was because the new SkyDrive meant people would actually use the space. They could afford to offer the space when it was hard to use and few people would use that much.


it have fast and durability i like about but you have to give some more space for regular use


Very nice post, thanks.

I use dropbox, skydrive and gdrive extensively. So far dropbox wins, except on the price tag.

Skydrive would be a win if it did not have several upload speed bugs (see for the official MS thread – the short story is that they “are aware of the problem and are working on it”). When this is fixed skydrive = dropbox for me.

Being a Google enthusiast (ok, fanboy :)) I also use google drive but it has issues with proxies, particularly authenticating ones (it does not work with them, that is). It also have the feature to download referrers (say, shortcuts) to native google docs documents. This means that you open these documents in your browser, you cannot edit them with a word processor.
This is fine or not, depending on the usage (though it is quite natural for google dos users, particularly from the sharing perspective)

I also used SpiderOak but it is too buggy as of now, especially with proxies.

Chris Hoffman

Yikes, that SkyDrive problem is no good.

Remember you can export your Google Docs as MS Office/OpenOffice/Whatever format files. I did that and dumped them into my Google Drive folder, so that way I have offline access to all my docs if I really need it — kind of a weird solution though.


True, but this is a one-shot operation — new documents created in Google Docs would still be synchronized as referrals.

Insync ( usd to be an interesting solution. They allowed for automatic conversion upon download and upload. They have been effectively killed by Google Drive and moved to paying version for businesses. They should have been acquired by Google Drive which would have had released a better product then.

Chris Hoffman

I was exporting/downloading my Google Docs to have an offline backup, anyway. Storing them on Google Drive means the offline backup can sync between multiple devices easier. It’s definitely not a good solution.

I think Google’s approach to offline docs is less than ideal. The .gdocs files should contain enough additional data that Docs can edit them offline — or other apps can use and open them (if the Internet goes down or your Google account is disabled, or something.)

Simen Burud

I use UbuntuOne since it doesn’t limit me to just one “magic” folder. Does anyone know of another service that can do that (on Ubuntu)?
(U1 has very low transfer speed at my location)

Chris Hoffman

SpiderOak seems to have a Linux client. It’s got a more confusing interface, but it offers full local encryption.

Simen Burud

Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out.

Mike H

With Dropbox, you can workaround the single “magic” folder issue by making use of links (on linux or OSX).

Chris Hoffman

This is definitely true, but it’s a bit of a pain for most average users.


I wonder if anyone can give me advice on whether these services are suitable for storing relatively valuable intellectual property? I have some work (PowerPoint files) which basically is my entire living – if it was to end up on Pirate Bay or something it would be a disaster for me. Would there be a risk using these services? (I see someone point out that law enforcement agencies could get the files – I’m not concerned about that, just about piracy).
Would appreciate any tips.



Chris Hoffman

SpiderOak, Wuala, or an app like BoxCryptor are all decent options — basically, encrypt your files before uploading them. These are all different ways to encrypt files.

Check out the “If you’re worried about the privacy of your data…” section near the end of the post for some links and more information.

Matthias Kahr

dropbox didn’t let me upload a 500Mb file. So unlimited file size is not a correct attribute for dropbox.

Guys you disappoint me. you write about cloud storage services and you are not able to consider one of the greatest services in this field. offers 10 GB storage for free, has easy and intuitive interface, has user friendly file browsing function and uploads faster than dropbox the files. this service beats all the big players in this field.

make your job.

Chris Hoffman

According to Dropbox’s website: “Files uploaded to Dropbox via the desktop application have no file size limit.

Files uploaded through the website (by pressing the upload button) have a 300 MB cap.” sounds pretty cool. But its About page says they’re “not like most cloud providers who just store and sync your stuff.” Instead, they’re focused on “creating unique new ways to find, share, collaborate and discover files.”

I just want to store and sync my stuff, though.


ubuntu one ? anyone ?


What about the privacy terms??

As I understand, Google’s user license effectively gives Google the right to do anything with your files: read, reproduce, PUBLISH !!

Emmanuel Florent

Certainly no! What are your sources ?

Emmanuel Florent

The future is still to value added document storage/archiving such as search, tagging, etc,…, and Google
For our accounting documentation archiving we made FlowZR [ wich act as a complete checbook register and budgeting software on wich you can attach your documentation on the Google Cloud.

vista windows

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I use dropbox mainly for office stuff since I only get 4Gb. I have 50Gb box which I use to store pictures and videos and I’m happy with my 25Gb x 2 skydrive now that they have windows app as well

Chris Hoffman

You can definitely get a lot of storage by using different accounts, but I’d imagine it’s kind of a pain to use 4 different services.

Still, I bet it’s worth it if you need the storage.

Nicki Escudero

Really nice overview, Chris! We’d also love to add CX into the mix. We’re a safe and secure cloud storage service that gives users their first whopping 10GB of storage for free. We also have collaborative features, such as chat, within groups where you share files with other users! Please give us a try, and let us know what you think!

Chris Hoffman

Sounds interesting, I may check it out at some point. The amount of free storage is very good.

Nicki Escudero

Thanks so much, Chris! We can’t wait to hear what you think! If you ever need any help with anything CX-related, e-mail me at Thanks!

Peter Hill

Don’t overlook SpiderOak !

Chris Hoffman

I made sure to mention it near the end! Maybe I should have given it more prominence, but there are so many services.

Sean Gallagher

I know the article tries to focus on the big players, but second the notion that Canonical’s Ubuntu One deserves an honorable mention – particularly for users of Ubuntu and its derivatives, but certainly not limited to them.

Ubuntu One offers 5GB free storage space, a web interface, and clients for Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux. They offer the option to sync folders other than the Ubuntu One “magic folder” via a client that is integrated so tightly with Nautilus that it’s almost completely transparent, and their Android client automatically syncs photos from my phone. Even on Linux Mint, my distro of choice, and in the rare occasion I boot into Windows, everything is synced quickly and transparently. I’d recommend Ubuntu One heartily – to Linux and Windows users alike.

Chris Hoffman

It’s interesting that so many people are chiming in about Ubuntu One. I’ve used it on Ubuntu before (and it worked really well), but I had this sense in my head that it was a platform-specific service — like iCloud is on Apple products.

Clearly it works pretty well on Windows, too. I should have mentioned it, certainly.

Frank C

i use Ubuntu One which is great, 5 GB free, and works on all major systems and phones.


You wrote: “choose the folders you want to synchronize – a feature missing in the above services”

That’s not true – at least Google Drive and Dropbox let you choose the folders to sync in the preferences.

Chris Hoffman

Sorry, I suppose I wasn’t clear enough — both Google Drive and Dropbox let you choose the remote folders you want to sync, but you can’t easily say “Hey, sync the C:\MyFiles\ folder”. That’s what I meant.


Ah, I see – thanks for clarification.

Kim Wyman


I haven’t the time and patience to go exploring different options so I want to use Google Drive. The problem I can’t solve is that I have different purpose documents as a User of three different Business Google apps sites: & (as above)
The first Google Drive I set up went OK and downloaded to my PC>Window 7>Favourites>Google Drive
I renamed that Google Drive AS
Then I tried to set up the second one. Went through the same steps but nothing seemed to happen. Ditto for the third one.
When I drop a new file on the PC into Google Drive AS
or when I create a Doc file in now AS Drive
nothing happens / syncs
I navigate between the three systems by having a Google Sign in Tab on the Chrome Browser where I sign in as needed, if necessary as a “Different User”
Advice please

Kim Wyman

I haven’t the time and patience to go exploring different options so I want to use Google Drive. The problem I can’t solve is that I have different purpose documents as a User of three different Business Google apps sites: & (as above)
The first Google Drive I set up went OK and downloaded to my PC>Window 7>Favourites>Google Drive
I renamed that Google Drive AS
Then I tried to set up the second one. Went through the same steps but nothing seemed to happen. Ditto for the third one.
When I drop a new file on the PC into Google Drive AS
or when I create a Doc file in now AS Drive
nothing happens / syncs
I navigate between the three systems by having a Google Sign in Tab on the Chrome Browser where I sign in as needed, if necessary as a “Different User”
Advice please


Sorry, I didnt read all the comments. Maybe someone said it already.

I can’t believe how you didn’t stand out the fact that dropbox just saves files while Google Drive and SkyDrive let you create and edit your files from the web (Document, Spreadseets and Presentations)

I started with SugarSync but the software is too slow and consumes a lot of resources. Also the sync was not fast enough.

Then it was Dropbox and its all good. From the referrals I have almost 10GB of storage.

Then Google upgraded Drive and with the integration of the documents I almost don’t create documents on my PC. However it’s a problem for me that the documents are not actually sync’ed but the program creates a shortcut to the web. Call me a backup freak but I would want to have a copy of what I am writing. Also, since I was a paid Gmail user before the Google Drive thing, I get 25GB in Drive and 30GB on Gmail for just 5 dollars a YEAR.

But then I tried SkyDrive and with the ability to create, edit and sync Office Files it just too good. (But I only use that service form Microsoft).

It’s a really a though decision. I think I’ll keep just using all of them (60GB of ‘free’ online goodness).


“it’s a problem for me that the documents are not actually sync’ed”

They’re not? If you install the Google Drive software on Mac or Windows it syncs the online office documents to your computer and vice versa – so you got a backup of your files on as many computers as you want. Or did I understand something wrong?

On a sidenote: Google Drive / Drive software has some problems though: when using it as a online backup space there are “unsyncable files” which are shown as “Upload Error – An unknown issue has occurred”. It’s the same three files over and over again (three 20MB pics from a folder of 20). But, then again it’s a relatively young service, so we’ll see how that works out. So long I go with “the pros” (Dropbox) as they seem to have more experience in the field (works like a charm with the exact same files).


Maybe I didn’t explained myself. The docs are sync’ed however the ones that are created with the Google Docs online tool, they are only downloaded as a link to the site. You don’t have the content in your PC.


Ah, now I understand what you mean. Yeah, I mistakenly thought that the files would *really* be synced, but of course – as you said – they’re not. Wow, that’s not what I want nor what I expected the Google Drive app to do. I like the Google products – like Google Mail etc. – a lot – but considering the probs that I have regarding several files (as stated above) and the fact that the office docs are not really synced…I’m not a fan yet. Way to go for Google…

Chris Hoffman

This disappoints me too. It’s one thing to have links to edit them online, but they should be usable offline in case your connection goes down.

You can always download the Docs in PDF/DOC/OpenOffice format manually, but that’s a bit of a pain. I do this occasionally to maintain an offline backup.

Sachin Kanchan

if i am to design a website and make it launch via an online dropbox or storage, will it load faster…and provide better results

Chris Hoffman

I’m not really sure what you’re asking — do you want to host a website on dropbox? Dropbox isn’t really designed for that — assuming you want to run a website, you should get a dedicated hosting provider instead.

Oscar Rainford

1. Dropbox
2. Google Drive
10000. Skydrive
Thats in order from best to worst.

Chris Hoffman

I’m no Microsoft fan, but I was actually pretty impressed with SkyDrive.

Sure, I don’t use it, but it’s actually pretty decent.


Missing: Symform!

Chris Hoffman

I had to look into it, but Symform looks like an interesting concept. Thanks for the tip!


how about a follow up article on the NOT big 3 providers and a matrix for feature/product (big 3 and not big 3)?

Chris Hoffman

That’s actually a great idea, an article that looks at less-known cloud storage options. Thanks!

Code Monkey

Didn’t say it but really well written article about an area that is emerging as critical in technology. Don’t forget the feature comparison matrix!


Hi, great article! FYI-Box offers 5GB free storage. I got it through the Apps at Google Chrome so I don’t know if it differs through direct sign-up. Imogen :-)

Chris Hoffman

Yup, but each file can only be up to 25MB each — which is really inconvenient, at least for me. Sorry if that was unclear!


What about CrashPlan. My son who is an IT pro turned me on to it. It offers unlimited online sorage with no file size limit, data backup, data recovery and file encryption.

Chris Hoffman

I’ve heard a lot about CrashPlan — it’s more focused on backup and it looks like the free version doesn’t offer any free online storage, though. Too bad.


I now may have to debate leaving Backblaze…

Edgar Meixueiro

I think sugarsync is better than the rest at the moment.

Chris Hoffman

Interesting, whyso?

Edgar Meixueiro

It’s just that unlike the “big” sync services (Drive, Skydrive, Dropbox), it lets you sync any folder in your file structure. This characteristic is very useful because you don’t have to move folders or files to sync them.

Chris Hoffman

Ah, fair enough. Honestly, I’m surprised none of the three offer that (without hacks, at least).

It’s a feature a lot of users want — they could make themselves stand out pretty fast.

Gian Singh

i’ve always used dropbox but google drive looks promising to switch to.

Kim Wyman

I haven’t the time and patience to go exploring different options so I want to use Google Drive. The problem I can’t solve is that I have different purpose documents as a User of three different Business Google apps sites: & (as above)

The first Google Drive I set up went OK and downloaded to my PC>Window 7>Favourites>Google Drive

I renamed that Google Drive AS

Then I tried to set up the second one. Went through the same steps but nothing seemed to happen. Ditto for the third one.

When I drop a new file on the PC into Google Drive AS
or when I create a Doc file in now AS Drive
nothing happens / syncs

I navigate between the three systems by having a Google Sign in Tab on the Chrome Browser where I sign in as needed, if necessary as a “Different User”

Advice please

Chris Hoffman

I think you can only have one copy of Google Drive running on your computer at a time — sorry.

Daniel Krebs

Someone should build an app that combines accounts from the different cloud providers and direct\navigate the files. That way one can have one folder

Chris Hoffman

I believe this already exists It’s called Otixo ( ), but it’s a web service that displays all your cloud storage services in one place. Never tried it, but I keep hearing about it.

Simply User

Very useful article.


You are at a very high level. First, outstanding dropbox feature is he automagic sync of files changes on your Windows PC to the cloud (I have to assume there is a similar Mac client). I don’t believe there is a similar feature in Skydrive.

Skydrive is the bomb for all other files – I use it to collect great car photos. I can pop in the url directly so I don’t have to save the file to my pc and upload. Skydrive also supports OneNote, notetaking software thats almost Evernote, is more than you really ever need, but you pay $15 one time on the ipad and $5 one time on the iPhone and you own it forever. Evernote costs $45 a year (the free version is useles – if you create a note on your desktop, it doesn’t sync offline to your iPad).

Oh, if you caught it in time, you could say “hey, I use Skydrive” and keep the free 25GB. I still got them!!

Chris Hoffman

SkyDrive now syncs file changes like Dropbox, more or less — I think Dropbox has more efficient incremental syncs.

(In other words, when you change a small bit of a large file, Dropbox will upload the small bit that changed, while SkyDrive will upload the entire large file.)


Chris I’m not talking about how much of the file it syncs. Dropbox has a TSR program that when I save a new file, it writes it to Dropbox online automagically. Does Skydrive have a similar program?

Dropbox essentially syncs as I make changes….and when I turn my sons laptop on after being off for a week, the same tsr brings down the new 100 or so files from Dropbox automatically.

Chris Hoffman

SkyDrive does have a similar program that runs in the background and watches for changes, yes. Google Drive does, too.

Minus User

The article missed out on Minus which provides largest space among all (10 GB); which can be upgraded free to 50 GB.

Get 1 extra GB here to start account at 11 GB:


I have been using Dropbox for a long time now. It’s very reliable but limited in space. I find the ease with which I can sync my files eliminates the need of usb cables and memory card readers. I have it synced on my comp and my droid. A while ago I also took advantage of the 50 gig free offer from It was brilliant to get that much free space and I though I would use it a lot but then learned it has no desktop sync unless you’re a business user, which means you loose your 50 gig. Ho Hum. I hardly use it at all. I just today signed up to skydrive to learn it doesn’t have winxp app. So won’t be using that much either. In my search to find a more suitable (like dropbox but more space) I have come across which offers 10gig of free space for starters. I can access it fine on my droid and via browser but the desktop software won’t even let me sign in citing server problems. If I can get cx working, it will be pretty good. My dropbox now has 4.25 gig because of sharing and referrals. Dropbox may be tight on the space front but it is the most reliable so far.


Dropbox is By Far the best… specially when you share


im new to dropbox and only started using dropbox for the past 3 months (kinda late exploring the cloud thingy). but so far, im ok with it.

still exploring…:)

Brent starts with free 5 gig accounts, but they are always running promos for “free for life” 25-50 gig accounts. They have increased max file size to 100 mb and now have sync feature similar to dropbox and google drive.

Chris Hoffman

Oh, do they? I got in one one of those promos, but I was disappointing by the lack of desktop sync. Might be time to give it another look.


I’ve been using dropbox for years and loved it until yesterday when all hell broke loose. I reformatted my computer and when I tried to open dropbox they had changed my password. When I tried to get them to send me an email for a new password, they can only send it to the email account I had when I opened the dropbox account. My entire business is on dropbox and only on dropbox… and when I tried to contact support they say I have to wait 1-3 BUSINESS days for them to respond. It’s been 41 hours and I have done ZERO work and have yet to hear from them. This is a nightmare and no way to treat a paying customer. Dropbox doesn’t even have a phone number!

Chris Hoffman

Sounds pretty bad, I hope you got this figured out — if you are indeed paying them for a service, they should really be more accessible to you.

Yan Futerman

What about MegaCloud?

Chris Hoffman

Never herad of it, but it looks decent at a glance. Why do you prefer it?

Yan Futerman

Nothing special – I discovered it before few days, they propose 8GB free storage and additional 16 after full registration… So I just want to know if somebody has an experience with it.

Shean Brighton

I actively use Google Drive. My work connected with docs that should be collaboratively edited, so it’s perfect. But to store more files online for free it’s not enough. They should make 25Gb of storage to be the first, or at least 15Gb, like 4Sync. And It also would be nice to have a social networks immediate posting like in Instagram or in abovementioned app. If they do all these they will have no competitors at all.

Chris Hoffman

Google Drive is definitely on the low end as far as storage goes. It’s one of the big disadvantages.

salim benhouhou

thank you Chris for the explanation

Steven Groves

There is great website called Otixo ( that allows you to get all your cloud applications at your finger tips. I have some of the accounts listed above and I use Otixo to keep track and have access to all my files.