With the recent launch of Google Drive I started doing a lot of comparisons to Dropbox – a service we’ve been using for about 18 months now and a service, for the most part, that I’m thrilled with. How does the newly minted Google Drive stack up, well let’s find out.
Web Interface – Dropbox wins
GDrive has a great, seamless transition from Apps into GDrive which is nice. It all feels the same as what we’re used to in Apps. Dropbox is however a much nicer/cleaner interface with their recent changes.
Photo Support – Tie
Pretty close call here – probably too close to pick actually. I somewhat prefer Dropbox but when you put GDrive into thumbnail view you get some pretty big images and it’s pretty easy to browse. Dropbox’s mobile app for viewing pictures destroys GDrive (in Dropbox you can just scroll picture/picture/picture – in GDrive it’s slow and one-at-a-time). That being said for browser photo browsing it’s pretty much a tie.
Sharing – Dropbox wins
Both have similar sharing systems via the web (almost dead even here). However with Dropbox you can share right from Explorer/Finder making it much easier (as you don’t have to go to a web page).
Integration with desktop applications – Tie
Mixed here – the great thing about GDrive is that it integrates explorer into Google Apps such that if you double click a file (say a spreadsheet) it’ll open it directly in Apps in the Browser (a very nice touch). Dropbox is extremely similar since everything is just on the filesystem the native app opens fine. If we were going to fully drop Office (which I see no way we can do) this would be a great solution.
Mobile Device support – Dropbox wins
Pretty simple here – Dropbox wins at the moment. No iOS app for GDrive yet (of course it’s coming and I’m sure soon). I also think the mobile app for Dropbox is far better than GDrive currently – it allows for auto-uploading of photos and in general browsing your data via the Dropbox app seems faster and smoother than GDrive. The Dropbox app also has built in editors for various file types. And Dropbox feels much faster on my phone than GDrive.
Storage space – GDrive wins
Another easy one – GDrive wins. Not just for price but for space. I’m currently paying roughly $1200/year for 2.2TB with Dropbox Teams and for $800/year we could get a whopping 16TB with GDrive. If money/space was an issue Gdrive is the easy win.
Backup / restore – Dropbox wins
A little hard to tell on this one as I haven’t used Spanning extensively against Apps (Spanning is a portfolio company that handles Google Apps backup/restore). From playing with both I have to say Dropbox’s interface for restores is superior to Spanning. I can easily see all versions of any document with a simple click and I can restore any version of a document that I want. In Spanning I have to choose a specific date/time and restore a file from that. I just restored a file from Spanning and it showed up in the web interface quickly (but confusingly the one I deleted and the restore are there) but after 60 minutes that restore hasn’t replicated to my GDrive folder on my machine. In contrast Dropbox restores have always taken less than 5 seconds to replicate down and have (knocking on wood) never failed me. I’ve done dozens of Dropbox restores over the past year and they’ve saved our bacon more than once. Also note that for a nominal fee ($3/month) Dropbox will store every version of every file forever.
Desktop Client – Dropbox wins
Pretty much a tie here – with a slight lead going to Dropbox given the really nice right-click sharing integration into Explorer/Finder. For that one simple reason I have to give Dropbox the nod.
Administration – Dropbox wins
This one pretty much only affects administrators and is a bit of a toss-up too. Dropbox’s system for provisioning accounts and remote unlinking/removing data is pretty sweet. GDrive (via Apps) will let us remote wipe a mobile device but I see no way to remote remove data from a device in the event a laptop is lost or stolen.
So for my purposes Dropbox is currently crushing Google Drive. Crushing it. That being said we all know how quickly Google can rev products when they want and I suspect over the next 6-12 months this comparison will change considerably. I love the thought of consolidating everything into Google Apps and as we move away from traditional OSes and into a browser driven world Google Drive will become a much more compelling product.