Google and Microsoft are both companies you’ve heard of. You’ve probably even considered their cloud storage services, seeing as how both companies have filled their clouds to the brim with an enticing selection of content, services, and features. Neither Google Drive or OneDrive are simply cloud storage services.
But neither of these services is perfect, nor is either one an all-powerful fit for every need. For every person, there is a cloud solution that fits better than others.
We’ve reviewed both services before, and given our own opinions. But now we’ve dived in again, tested them as they are today, kicked the tires, poked the features. Which one is better? Which one fits you best? Find out below in our latest head-to-head.
Winner: Google Drive
|Operating Systems||Windows, Mac||Windows, Mac|
|Storage||100 GB||100 GB|
|Price||$1.99 / month||$1.99 / month|
|Average Upload Speed||12.5 Mbps (5 Mbps connection)||6.05 Mbps (5 Mbps connection)|
|Average Download Speed||50 Mbps (50 Mbps connection)||68.4 Mbps (50 Mbps connection)|
|Full Review||OneDrive Review||Google Drive Review|
|Free Online Storage||5 GB||15 GB|
|Mobile Apps||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Android, iOS|
|Keep Deleted Files||1 Year||Forever|
|Back Up to Local Drive|
|Sync and Share Features|
|Public File Sharing|
|Data Center Location(s)||Global (100+ data centers)||USA, Chile, Taiwan, Singapore, Finland, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands (14 data centers)|
Both OneDrive and Google Drive offer an impressive amount of features, especially since Microsoft filled in a few more gaps this year. Here are the features both services share.
- Sync and access files across all supported devices
- Desktop file folder with automatic and selective folder sync
- Choose desktop folder location
- Share links to files and folders
- Set shared file access as read-only or full-edit
- Restore previous versions of files
- View and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the web browser
- Create and share photo albums
- Stream your stored music collection
- Mobile apps with offline file support
- Search for files/photos by metadata
Microsoft has been aggressively adding and updating features, as some of the above just came to OneDrive within the last few months. OneDrive even has one that Google Drive doesn’t:
- Fetch – Access computer files and folders remotely from web (PC only)
Fetch is a pretty cool feature that’s great for accessing a home media library, or getting a spreadsheet you forgot to upload, as long as you keep your computer on and out of hibernate all the time. Still, it’s the closest thing to NAS support that either service offers.
However, OneDrive also comes with some annoying limitations that take away from these extra features:
- OneDrive supports versioning only on Microsoft Office files, 20 versions max
- Uploads on OneDrive are limited to 10 GB within all user interfaces
- Web downloads of multiple files are limited to 4 GB
Google Drive supports unlimited versions for Google files, 100 versions within 30 days for non-Google files, and 200 versions for files marked as “keep forever.” Drive also has an insurmountable 5 TB per file upload limit. Files greater than 10 GB might be rare, but it’s nice to have the option.
Finally, Google Drive has an app store (Chrome app store) that lets you add features to Drive through 3rd party add-ons. Some apps include photo, movie, and audio editing, and capturing signatures in Forms.
Google Drive takes the win, mostly because of its app store and OneDrive’s limitations.
Sharing Files and Folders
Both services offer the standard compliment of sharing options, including direct links to various social networks.
Google Drive offers two toggles that will restrict editor re-sharing and prevent viewers from downloading files. The feature is appreciated, but it’d be even better if these options could be set per user.
Google Drive links are also read-only unless the viewer signs in with a Google account. The viewer can’t edit or upload files without signing up for Google.
OneDrive’s collaborative links can be sent to guests, allowing them to upload and even edit files within Office Online.
OneDrive also features codes for iframe folder embeds to stick into a website. These are read-only links show up as attractive “live tiles” with rotating thumbnails.
These two additional features are huge, and that’s why OneDrive wins here.
Office Online vs. Docs
Winner: Google Drive
Let’s just get this out of the way. Microsoft Office is the de-facto standard of productivity suites, and Docs is not even remotely competing with this product. If you need Microsoft Office, you will use Microsoft Office.
But for many teams, Docs is used as a collaboration tool for brainstorming or editing content prior to exporting to a full editing suite. This is because Google Docs supports real-time collaboration, allowing multiple users to view and edit the same document online at the same time, and even view their own changes as they happen.
This kind of quick online collaboration is important, and is why Microsoft created Office Online. Teams that dual-wield Docs and Office were likely excited to hear that Office Online was getting real-time collaboration too. The ability to collaborate and export without reformatting would be an incredible benefit.
Sadly, it’s nowhere near as well-implemented as Docs. Edits show up with some noticeable delay. Edits are also not tracked, meaning it’s impossible to see who changed what. Only the user’s current cursor position is tracked.
As unfortunate as this is for dual-wielding teams, it can improve. But the fact remains that Google Drive is the king of online collaboration, and while there’s nothing wrong with Office Online in a vacuum, Microsoft hasn’t made a compelling argument for why users who only use Google Docs should switch.
But, there’s nothing to say that this won’t change. Should Microsoft improve its real-time collaboration platform in Office Online and keep it integrated with the Office suite, they could have a winner in the future.
But for now, Google remains the king of online document collaboration.
Winner: Google Drive
For our purposes, Google Play Music and Microsoft Groove are almost identical music streaming services, allowing users to stream up to 50,000 songs uploaded to the cloud for free. Any purchased songs are, of course, not included in that limit.
With Google Drive, you get the benefits of Google metadata collection. You’ll get music recommendations based on what you upload and the ability to listen to curated radio stations.
With OneDrive, curated radio stations are left to paid subscriptions. But they do give you 100 GB of extra storage when you upload music.
Things are a bit different with photos. Despite my complaints (see below) that Google should integrate its services better, Google Photos is astonishingly superior to OneDrive’s offering. To be clear, OneDrive’s photo interface is clean, beautiful, and offers excellent album creation and sharing options. But Google Photos is all of that with web editing options, a great auto-editing mode, and intelligent metadata tagging.
Google Photos actively scans photos you upload for recognizable objects, and then stores that metadata with the picture in the cloud. This way, you can search for a picture of sushi and get exactly that. This kind of metadata collection may be creepy, but it’s certainly powerful.
OneDrive also has a tagging feature, sort of. I do like that a user can add, delete, or modify tags, but it only does an okay job of finding relevant objects. The fact that OneDrive’s tags are not searchable is a bit annoying.
Finally, Google even gives you a photo assistant that will suggest neat little editing tricks. Burst photos can be converted to a single .gif file. Falling snow can be added to a photo with snow in the background. They’re silly things, but fun nonetheless.
Both company’s music features are comparable, but Google gets put over the top with photos.
Ease of Use
Both services are easy to use on the surface. Web UIs are clean, simple, and software is easy to set up.
But Google’s tendency to separate features into separate services can be both confusing and annoying.
Because Google Music is a separate service, opening music or video files in Drive will bring these errors up. It would be nice if they even indicated that there’s a separate service or website to go to.
In addition, to take advantage of the Photo features mentioned previously, uploads need to be conducted through Google Photos or by enabling auto-upload through a Drive app. Once again, there is no warning to this effect.
As a result, I’m giving OneDrive the win here.
Software and App Support
Both companies offer sync software and apps for Windows, OSX, iOS and Android. Neither supports Linux with official clients, but you can mount either one or use a third-party client.
However, OneDrive also supports Windows Phone, has an upcoming Universal Windows app, and also supports Blackberry devices.
OneDrive just barely gains the win here.
|Performance Tests||Google Drive||OneDrive|
|Average Download Speed||68.4 Mbps||56.1 Mbps|
|Max Download Speed||96.1 Mbps||88.7 Mbps|
|Average Upload Speed||6.05 Mbps||4.86 Mbps|
|Max Upload Speed||7.39 Mbps||8.65 Mbps|
Both services performed well in my head-to-head speed tests, hitting or exceeding maximums and all without significant CPU or RAM usage.
Both have some caveats though. OneDrive’s sync software on Windows 7 and 10 is pretty clunky. Sync events can be delayed by a lengthy “processing changes” prompt or by sync errors. Google Drive’s pre-download compression on the web is also quite clunky, leading to a long wait time before downloads of multiple files even start.
Neither service offers perfect performance, but they are both good enough for average use. They even out into a tie here.
Security and Privacy
Winner: Google Drive
OneDrive offers SSL encryption for data transfers, optional two-factor authentication, and Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) to prevent a hacker from using an intercepted session key.
Google Drive uses the more robust TLS encryption, PFS security, two-factor authentication, and encrypts data on the server with 128-bit AES encryption. It won’t prevent NSA intrusion, since Google holds the keys, but it’s important to protect data in case of a Google server breach.
Both companies have very similar privacy policies, with two exceptions. OneDrive is allowed to scan and automatically delete illegal content from your storage. Google Drive is allowed to use collected metadata to serve up targeted ads. It’s currently unknown how much either situation happens, but it comes down to who you trust more.
However, because of Google’s superior security protections, I’m giving it the win here.
Winner: Google Drive
OneDrive recently dropped their free storage from 15 GB to 5 GB starting in early 2016, much to the dismay of its free users.
Google Drive still offers 15 GB for free, and thus wins here.
Winner: OneDrive (barely)
|Storage||OneDrive Monthly||OneDrive Yearly||Google Drive Monthly||Google Drive Yearly|
OneDrive’s recent pricing overhaul hit its users hard, especially the loss of unlimited storage on Office 365 accounts, although most users hadn’t seen this promise yet.
However, they’re still arguably cheaper. Google Drive offers the better deal under 1 TB, but it’s pretty hard to beat their 1 TB Office 365 subscription. $70 / year nets a full Office suite and 1 TB of data, undercutting Google by $50 / year. While it’s cool that Google offers tiers above 1 TB, not many will need more than 1 TB and be willing to pay thousands per year for it.
OneDrive offers the general better deal with its Office 365 subscription, even if you don’t need Office. That said, if you only need 100 GB or need more than 1 TB, Google Drive is the only option.
Winner: Google Drive
OneDrive offers 24/7 customer support, but only through a support ticket that’ll take a couple days to get an answer. Microsoft offers an “Answer Desk” chat option if you navigate through a maze of support pages, but there’s no phone option.
Google Drive 24/7 phone, e-mail, and chat support. Best of all, you can provide your phone number and have a technician call you back instead of wading through voice menus. I tried this and received a call within as little as a minute. Google provides FAQs and forum support at http://support.google.com/drive as well.
Google easily takes the win here.
The Bottom Line
Need the best in online document collaboration? Like uploading and editing photos? Like huge ecosystems of add-ins? Go with Google Drive. Drive also offers slightly better security, better support, and virtually no upload limits and expansive versioning.
However, OneDrive is still probably going to be a better option for those dedicated to Microsoft Office. It’s great to see real-time collaboration for Office, even if it’s not as good as Docs. OneDrive also does not require an account to collaborate on files, which will be important for some. And while Fetch is a niche feature, it’s going to be important for those who augment their cloud storage with physical storage at home.
But both services are great options, offer impressive feature sets, and an incredible amount of value. Which one would you choose?
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