Comparing Online Storage - Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive and Google Drive

Sankaran Ganapathi

Cloud computing has been a popular topic on the Terminal blog lately, but most posts have focused on corporate IT interests. Today we would like to address the cloud computing needs of personal users. Best of all, we’re talking about everyone’s favorite word: free.

There are three leading online storage platforms that provide free service. First, we will look at Dropbox, the old favorite, then compare Microsoft SkyDrive and Google Drive, the two newbies. Here is a general overview of all three.

Dropbox was launched in 2008 and now has more than 50 million users. Free accounts provide 2 GB, less than half of the other two providers, but Dropbox’s simple, clean interface makes it easy to use and organize.

Microsoft SkyDrive is relatively new to most users, but has existed in various capacities since 2007. It offers 7 GB of free space, which is 2 GB more than Google and 5 GB more than Dropbox. Not surprisingly, SkyDrive synchronizes seamlessly with other Microsoft programs and is a good option for Windows users.

Google Drive has only officially existed since April 2012 but has attracted many users who rely on other Google services, like Gmail and Google Docs. Drive offers 5 GB of storage that are easy to use for anyone comfortable with the Google format.

Google Drive has received a lot of criticism for its loose privacy policies. That doesn't mean that it should be avoided, but we recommend that you read the terms of service and Lucas Mearian’s article in PC World before using it.

Now that you know a bit about each, it is time to award a valedictorian of free online storage. ZDNet writer Ed Bott tested Dropbox, SkyDrive and Drive on four subjects. Each performed well, but one student excelled.

  1. Synchronization and backup: All.
  2. File sharing: All.
  3. Content creation and editing: SkyDrive and Drive only.
  4. Photo galleries: SkyDrive and Dropbox only.

So, there you have it. The clear winner is Microsoft SkyDrive with 7 GB of free storage, editing tools, multimedia galleries and a manageable interface.