Nowadays, our storage technology has become so advanced that we do not really require a physical device to store your treasured data for work or personal purpose. For those that are familiar with cloud storage technology, you have already heard about its immense potential when it comes to revolutionizing how we handle and store our data. Not just that, it just makes things a lot easier and more convenient since we will be able to enjoy quick and easy access to it.
Before using the cloud storage service, it is wise to take a look at the top cloud storage service providers in the market: Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Box. This becomes even more important if you are looking the real deal to augment your business operations as well as enhancing your business strategies. In order to measure their suitability as cloud storage service for your business, all you need to do is find out their capabilities in terms of look and feel, storage space, mobile-friendly, security and differences between free and paid version.
Look & Feel
Basically, this aspect actually deals with the primacy of user experience (UX) and it covers all about ergonomics of the system when humans are interacting with it. In short, it also means whether an user will enjoy using that particular service. When it comes to using a cloud storage service, this factor alone can make the real difference in deciding whether the whole cloud storage service is really that worth all the trouble.
In the first glance, all four of them are easily accessible while being simple and easy to use at the same time. However, you will discover that there are some subtle differences that will characterize them as totally distinctive platforms with their quirkiness. As a matter of fact, it is obvious that both OneDrive and Google Drive have been designed to be the integral aspect of their own respective ecosystems. As for both Box and Dropbox, they can be used anywhere regardless of any apps or platform that you are using. Believe it or not, these differences are just the beginning and there will be more features which define their usages.
From your browser in the desktop or mobile, you can access Google Drive with relative ease. Combining a complete set of incredible tools with cloud storage, the Google Drive enables you to create, edit and share documents with its Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms or even Drawing.
All you need to do is to own a Google account. The best thing about it is that you can even drag and drop files into the Google Drive website where they will be uploaded automatically. In addition, you can see the preview of them in your Gmail and add them into your Google Drive.
Yet, the problem of using Google Drive is that you must export the files from your Google Drive’s tools to be edited in another program. Another problem is that you must share your storage space with your Gmail and you will get less storage space as your inbox is growing.
As for OneDrive, you do not have to be a fan of Microsoft to enjoy its features. While being able to work seamlessly if you are using it with its own respective ecosystem, it is amazing to note that the OneDrive encourages its uses in a variety of different platforms. Incredibly, you can even view your files from even your Xbox One or Xbox 360 consoles.
If you have subscribed to Office 365, you will be able to open a document in OneDrive and collaborate with others on it in real time! As a matter of fact, you can view all of the changes when others are working on it. Most importantly, its greatest strength is that you get to see the latest saved documents even when you are using one of its Microsoft Office apps like PowerPoint or Word.
Despite offering you such seamless operation across multiple platforms, the OneDrive poses a problem in the form of organizing your files. This is because its own automatic file organization can make the mistake of putting your files in wrong folders.
Among others, the nascent Dropbox proves to be the instant favorite because it has been once described as a breeze to set up and use. Working equally well in various platforms, Dropbox makes sure that you get to enjoy its usage from anywhere. In its basic yet clean design and look, the Dropbox allows simple and easy navigation so that you can browse through your files without much trouble at all. The best thing about Dropbox is that you can share files and folders by using only email invite or link; this is really handy for those that does not have a Dropbox account.
When you compare Dropbox to other two above, it definitely lacks additional tools for creating files within your cloud storage service. Another disadvantage of Dropbox is that it does not let you to control and organize how your files are displayed. Despite being able to upload your files and sync them in an instant, you still have to grab each individual file instead of drag and drop entire folders in one go.
Talking about the Box, it is simple and basic enough for you to enjoy its usage in managing your files. However, you will get the best of it when you are paying for its extensive sharing and privacy features. From the Box’s website, you can preview your files and create simple text document in it. When it comes to the aspect of protecting and securing your files, the Box will give you a plenty of options over the privacy of your files. In fact, you can choose who can view, edit and upload. Not just that, you can even incorporate password to protect your individual file as well as set expiration dates for shared folders.
Although the Box offers seemingly endless list of sharing and privacy features, those that are just using the cloud storage service for storage purpose will have a harder time when using it. Indeed, the Box will be more appealing when you have a large organization or working on a comprehensive project with other big teams. Otherwise, using it for simple storage can prove to be overwhelming for your own good.
Obviously, size does matter when it comes to choose your cloud storage service. It is interesting to take a look at what you can get if you are not paying for it:
- Google Drive: 15GB of free storage with a Google account that includes Gmail
- OneDrive: 5GB of free storage with a Microsoft account
- Dropbox: 2GB of free storage with a Dropbox Basic account although you can increase your limit in various ways (16GB is the limit)
- Box: 10GB of free storage with Box individual plan
Needless to say, all of these storage limits will be a problem if you desire for something bigger. Hence, this is where you feel compelled to spend to upgrade your cloud storage service for your own unique needs. As for Google Drive, you will get 100GB for $2 a month, 1TB for $10 a month, 10TB for $100 a month, 20TB for $200 a month and 30TB for $300 a month. What about OneDrive? For just $2 a month, you can get 50GB. If you have subscribed to Office 365, you will get 1TB as part of your $10 subscription a month.
Regarding Dropbox, there is Dropbox Pro account that offers 1TB for $10 a month. Yet, you can take advantage of the Dropbox Business Plan which enables you to enjoy unlimited space for just $15 and it begins at 1TB per user. Talking another box, Box, you can pay $11.50 per month for Personal Pro Plan. As mentioned earlier, it is pretty big with its host of features when you take its business plans. For Starter, you only need $6 per user/month for 100GB. Its most popular plan, Business, gives you unlimited storage while you get to enjoy various stuffs such as advanced user and security reporting, mobile security controls and data loss prevention. It will cost about $17 per user/month. However, both of the starter require the minimum number of 3 users and this can be prohibitively expensive.
Free or Paid?
From what we have seen, the cloud storage services are basically “what you pay is what you get”. While Google Drive is the preferred cloud storage when you do not have pay for anything, its paid plan actually offer great pricing. Similarly, the Dropbox looks appealing as well. As for OneDrive, it is said to be steep unless you have been doing a lot of stuff with the Microsoft Office Suite or Windows. The Box can pretty impressive until it actually charges by user and month. If you have no need of its vast features, you can cross it out from the list. For many experienced project managers, Box may appeal to them because it fits well with them when it comes to countless customization options.
Depending on the nature of your business, the Google Drive is highly recommended for most businesses that use cloud storage service for storage purpose only. This is because the 15GB of free storage is actually more than enough. For those that prefer a variety options in managing data, the Box can be a sweet deal. At the end of day, it is arguable that the free Google Drive is quite a favorable choice when you can get the most without spending.
In the subject of being mobile-friendly, all of these cloud storage services prioritize the true meaning of being mobile-friendly. This is because they can be used effectively whenever you are accessing from your own mobile devices such as smartphone and tablet. Not just that, some smartphones and tablets even support the cloud storage services’ respective mobile apps in a more cohesive manner. In other words, you will be enjoying the full benefits of cloud storage service as if you are using from your laptop or computer.
A lot of people always neglects the security aspect when it comes to getting a cloud storage service. Prioritizing convenience more than the security, they have made the mistake of exposing their beloved date to both overt and covert intrusions. Most cloud storage service providers do not provide robust security features to protect your beloved data.
With the exception of Box which allows you to set different permission and access rights, Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox does not really support encryption. If you want to secure your date on the platforms, you have to audit all of your connected devices and services or enact simple but effective two-factor authentication. At least, Dropbox allows you to store encrypted volumes and unpack them on your computer.
As the competition among the cloud service providers have grown stiffer, this means that you will be getting better cloud service storage plans and benefits. Moreover, many business plans are scalable in order to suit your needs perfectly.
In conclusion, there are lots of great cloud storage service choices out there for your business plans and strategies. So which one of these free or paid cloud storage service should you use? That depends entirely on your needs and requirements.
Written by Aaron Tam and images compiled by Jeremy Chew from iPrice Group