In May Google changed Google Docs to make it work more like Dropbox. It also gave the service a new name: Google Drive.
Like Dropbox and Microsoft SkyDrive, Google Drive lets you store files online and sync documents across devices. While three services are direct competitors in some departments, each has its pown strengths and weaknesses.
Google Drive’s strength is close integration with the company’s online application suite. The programs are free web-based alternatives to the most popular Microsoft Office applications. Google sells a paid-for version to businesses as a low-cost Microsoft Office competitor.
If you find Google’s applications meet your needs better than Microsoft Office, then Drive is your best choice for an online home base.
Great for collaboration
I use Google’s apps every day for one of my freelance journalism jobs. The apps are great for collaboration, but I run into problems when zooming small text to make it easier to read: the cursor gets out of sync with the characters on-screen.
For this reason, I go elsewhere for word processing when I don’t have to use Google Docs. Your mileage may differ.
All your Google Drive documents are always stored online in the cloud – you can get them from everywhere. Google uses proprietary document formats. In practice moving documents between the Google world and Microsoft Office or any other format is rarely a problem, although you may lose formatting along the way.
Microsoft gives you more free storage, 7GB compared with Google’s 5GB. Dropbox is more complicated, the basic free account is just 2GB, but thanks to special offers, I get 27GB – that’s plenty for my work needs, but not enough for music and movies. In all three cases you can buy more storage.
As you’d expect, Google beats Microsoft when it comes to searching through your documents to find something.
I find DropBox works best when moving between smartphone, tablet and desktop. SkyDrive is a close second. Google Drive is more clumsy. The mobile site is difficult to use and not responsive enough – even on an Android phone.
Keep in mind that you can use any combination of Google Drive, SkyDrive and DropBox features – choosing one doesn’t lock you out of the others.