We’ve never been huge fans of wasting precious storage space on our computers and phones. While we understand that if you keep your files locally, they’ll be readily available whenever you need to access them for work or personal use, we also acknowledge the risks that come along with such practice.
There are so many ways things can go awfully wrong – what if your device gets stolen or you manage to lose it? What if something suddenly breaks? Do you back up and transfer everything when you move to a new laptop or smartphone?
There are literally dozens of reasons to cut all the risks and move to the cloud. We made the switch years ago and now we enjoy all the perks that come with using a cloud file hosting solution.
Google Drive, in particular, was our first choice to migrate all work files from our physical devices. There were many things about the experience that we really liked, so we started using it even for personal needs, but a certain amount of oversight was evident too. That’s why we decided to explore other options to see how they compared to Google Drive.
Before we introduce our best picks among the many Google Drive alternatives out there, let’s explore the topic a bit further.
Why You Should Rely on a Good File Storage Service
Using a cloud-based service to store and manage all of your digital data is a very smart move considering all of the dangers of data loss. But, there’s definitely more to it – below are the top reasons why a cloud storage solution should be a priority for managing your files.
- Remove vulnerabilities such as flash drives and external hard drives.
Peripheral storage devices like computers and smartphones can easily be lost, broken, or compromised. USBs and external HDDs and SSDs are convenient for file transfer and keeping, but not as nearly safe as cloud-based storage services.
- Back up personal and work files.
A service that makes safekeeping your data a priority is always a better option than handling the process yourself. Cloud drives usually have the ability to automatically backup designated folders to ensure your most delicate files are always safely stored.
- Easier collaboration with clients and coworkers.
File storing tools make it easy to share documents and media and give viewing or editing access to anyone you want. Entire folders can be shared between coworkers increasing teamwork efficiency. When it comes to work, these services are especially useful to freelancers and remote workers to send completed projects and work assignments to their clients or supervisors.
- More value for a smaller price.
Cloud drives usually cost as much as a mediocre USB stick, but offer so much more. As we mentioned above, peripheral storage devices are easy to lose and can’t be trusted with eternal serviceability (think fire, flooding, or hardware damages). Sometimes, they break on their own for no reason. Their price can replace a few months or a whole year with a cloud service while in return you’d get more storage, extra awesome features, and peace of mind.
Is Google Drive Good Enough for You?
We’ve been using Google’s services for quite a while and being able to integrate with Google Drive and work in one compact space has been incredibly convenient. However, we’ve noticed a few limitations that made us explore other tools too.
Google Drive has many positive aspects, one of which is its generous approach in providing storage space for free. With a Gmail account, you get 15 GB of free storage and what’s more, Google Drive doesn’t count the storage for photos (those that are compressed for high quality) that you upload to Google Drive (this offer ends on June 1, 2021).
The platform is a full-featured cloud drive with amazing syncing capabilities. You can designate specific folders on your PC or phone that will synchronize with Google Drive as soon as any changes are done. That’s great for not having to worry about constantly uploading important files. Everything produced or modified with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Photos, Calendar, etc. synchronizes in real-time as well.
The above-mentioned reason is why Google Drive is so popular for collaboration purposes. Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) is an incredible productivity suite used by thousands of companies around the world.
An additional strength that Google Drive boasts is its integration with third-party apps capability. While other similar services also offer integration features, none feature as many integrable apps as Google Drive does. Pretty much every app out there can integrate with Google Drive, from Slack and Zappier to Salesforce and Hive.
“You can upload almost any type of file on google drive and share these files to others via links. The ease of access, security, large cloud storage space, and the fact that we can access all these files from any place on the earth, makes it one of the best cloud storage software currently available on the market” – Pawan J
There are some serious drawbacks to Google Drive that can come in the way of its seamless operation. Mainly, they’re related to privacy and security.
To begin with, Google Drive is extremely popular, hence it’s a target for many cyber attacks. We’ve often come upon phishing emails coming through Gmail, attempting to extract log-in information for Google Drive.
Additionally, Google Drive’s terms & conditions policy vaguely explains how much freedom they have over your data. They claim that if you make your content public, they can share, publish, edit, or remove it if they think it violates their policies. They can also take the liberty to share it with third-party apps they work with or use your content to develop new tools and technologies.
To be able to perform all of the above-mentioned procedures, they need to know what’s in your files and folders. And they have that information because they freely scan all of your data. While keeping your files in Google Drive is much safer than a physical device since the service uses high-level encryption protocols, the company has full access to your data and can share it with the police and other law enforcement agencies.
Lastly, sharing files with others using Google Drive leaves plenty of room for liabilities. You have no way of knowing where your files might end up. Each file transport activity is encrypted, but the recipient can publish or send the file to someone else and you have no control over it.
“We can’t restrict if someone has copied or downloaded a shared file or folder. Once shared they can easily redistribute it without any permissions or receipt.” – Priya C.
You can get Google Drive by signing up for a Google account. With it, you get 15 GB of free storage. To upgrade, you need to opt for a paid plan with Google One.
There are three paid plans on Google One:
- 100 GB – $1.99/month ($19.99/year);
- 200 GB – $2.99/month ($29.99/year);
- 2 TB – $9.99/month ($99.99/year).
Top 5 Google Drive Alternatives
The Google Drive’s vulnerabilities that we’ve discussed above left us pondering our future with the platform, so we researched other similar services to see if they would be better suited.
We tried and tested a dozen of the highest-ranked cloud storage services, but we only included 5 in this article that we deemed worthy for your consideration:
- Microsoft OneDrive
Let’s dive deeper by reviewing all of the above.
Dropbox, alongside Microsoft OneDrive, is Google Drive’s biggest competitor. It’s one of the first cloud storage platforms as we know them today and the first to offer a “freemium” pricing model where you’d be given a limited amount of free storage before paid plans are introduced.
Dropbox is adored by many in the file storage and synchronization industry. It’s most suitable for teams that want their workflow streamlined with their favorite third-party productivity apps.
The platform is well-developed for every operating system and is more than a simple secure storage organizer. Whether you’re accessing Dropbox from your desktop or a browser, the platform organizes all your work files in a smart, seamless way to optimize better team collaboration.
Dropbox Business provides easy access for your existing workflow – it harmoniously integrates with apps such as Google Docs, Microsoft Office, Slack, and Zoom, and you never have to leave its dashboard to use them.
In terms of security, it’s a much better option than Google Drive. With Dropbox, you can set passwords and expiration dates to your files. You’ll also receive notifications when your shared files are delivered and downloaded.
Even though Dropbox doesn’t scan your files to ensure you receive more privacy, it doesn’t scan your files for malware or viruses either, leaving you vulnerable to certain cyber attacks.
Just like Google Drive, Dropbox is widely used which makes it an attractive target for many hackers.
Another drawback to Dropbox is its meager approach toward free storage. They do offer a lot on their paid plans but bear in mind that those are quite expensive compared to most cloud drives.
Dropbox serves both individuals and businesses.
Dropbox for personal use is offered on three plans:
- Basic – Free for one user (2 GB storage);
- Plus – $9.99/month for one user (2 TB storage);
- Family – $16.99/month for up to six users (2 TB storage).
Dropbox Business has three paid plans as well:
- Professional – $19.99/month for one user (3 TB storage);
- Standard – $15/month per user for a minimum of three users (5 TB storage);
- Advanced – $25/month per user for a minimum of three users (unlimited storage).
Useful to those that often share files and favor privacy at the same time, Sync is second on our list of the top cloud storage platforms.
There are four key functionalities that make Sync stand out:
Besides top-level end-to-end encryption, Sync applies a zero-knowledge policy. That means that no one, not even Sync’s employees, can peek into your stored data.
- File Restoration
Sync shows great care for its customers, especially those with business accounts, regarding deleted or missing files. If you’re a free account owner, you can restore any deleted file for up to 30 days. Pro and Business users can restore their deleted files within an impressive period of a whole year.
- File Sharing
You can share files using any cloud drive, but with Sync, the files that you share have no size limit. Additional features such as link activity notifications and advanced permissions make the experience far more desirable.
- Advanced Admin Control
Team leaders and project managers adore Sync because of its business-oriented functionalities. Admins can remotely wipe files, manage users, and track their productivity.
While Sync’s prices are pretty competitive, they only offer yearly contracts which can be a dealbreaker for new users.
Customer support isn’t one of Sync’s strong suits as well. You can only reach their help by email – not the best option when you need urgent assistance.
The last and most disappointing drawback to Sync is its inability to integrate with third-party apps. They opted for such a measure to raise the level of their privacy and security capabilities, however, integration is crucial for almost all businesses.
Sync has optimized paid plans for business individuals, small businesses, and big teams.
Sync for individuals is offered on three paid plans:
- Basic – $8/month (2 TB storage);
- Standard – $10/month (3 TB storage);
- Plus – $15/month (4 TB storage).
Sync for teams is also comprised of three paid plans:
- Standard – $5/user/month (1 TB storage);
- Plus – $8/user/month (4 TB storage);
- Advanced – $15/user/month (10 TB storage).
Note that Sync offers 5 GB storage for free, 200 GB storage for $60/year, and 2 TB storage for $96/year, all intended for personal use.
The most accessible cloud storage for every Microsoft Windows user which actually comes pre-installed with every Windows 10 operating system is Microsoft OneDrive.
The best thing about OneDrive is its integration with the Microsoft Office 365 suite. Since these tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) are widely used, OneDrive represents a convenient place for storing all of your work in the cloud.
OneDrive makes storing and accessing your files efficient by providing you with an interface that mimics a desktop app that keeps your files locally when, in fact, it’s only a cloud-based app. It’s brilliant to be able to access all of your files in Windows 10 knowing they don’t take up any space on the device.
The OneDrive mobile app allows you to scan documents, notes, business cards, receipts, etc. When produced, they’ll be automatically uploaded to the cloud.
The OneDrive Personal Vault is a high-level security feature where you can store your most sensitive data. It’s packed with several identity verification methods and automatic locks to ensure your files are always safely stored.
For something that comes preinstalled with your Windows 10, OneDrive is a bit of a let-down in terms of free storage. It only offers 5 GB for free.
While OneDrive works great with the Office suite, it doesn’t really offer much for users who prefer other document editors. Also, it doesn’t really try to win fans of macOS and Linux, so these users might want to look for other alternatives.
Lastly, OneDrive is notably more expensive than most of its competitors.
OneDrive has four pricing plans tailored for personal use and four more for business use.
One Drive for home:
- OneDrive Basic – Free (5 GB storage);
- OneDrive Standalone – $1.99/month (100 GB storage);
- Microsoft 365 Personal – $6.99/month (1 TB storage);
- Microsoft 365 Family – $9.99/month for up to 6 people (6 TB storage).
OneDrive for business:
- OneDrive for Business Plan 1 – $5.00/user/month (1 TB storage per user);
- OneDrive for Business Plan 2 – $10.00/user/month (unlimited storage);
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $5.00/user/month (1 TB storage per user + Teams and mobile Office apps);
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.50/user/month (1 TB storage per user + Teams and Office apps).
What’s Microsoft OneDrive for Windows users, that’s Apple iCloud for macOS and iOS users. It’s not the best Google Drive alternative compared to services like Dropbox, but it might be the ideal option for Apple die-hards.
iCloud comes pre-installed every time you purchase a macOS or an iOS device. Additionally, the platform is available for Windows users as well.
Like most cloud drives, iCloud offers 5 GB of storage for free.
Apple’s devices are known to produce high-quality photos and videos that will eat up your device’s storage fast. That’s where iCloud comes in, as a valuable option for backing up your data.
iCloud is the key tool whenever you need to restore your data when you wish to use a new device, providing its recognizable slick user experience.
Even though iCloud is quite affordable (pretty unusual for an Apple product), the platform can be surprisingly annoying trying to constantly upsell its upgraded plans.
The most frustrating thing about the service is the lack of a search functionality when you access iCloud from a browser. Also, the file-synching and storage tool is still not offered as an Android app.
Besides the free 5 GB that come included with your Apple device, iCloud can be upgraded to three other paid plans:
- 50 GB – $0.99/month;
- 200 GB – $2.99/month;
- 2 TB – $9.99/month;
The last service on our list is Box – a cloud file storage platform that caters to small businesses.
Each service on this list is pretty straightforward for personal use, but Box is the simplest to use even for complex teams. Its dashboard has a clean and intuitive interface that contains everything you need for a streamlined workflow in one compact space.
The platform ensures to integrate with as many enterprise apps such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Salesforce, Adobe Sign, etc. to enhance team collaboration and productivity.
To refine the business experience, Box implements machine learning to automate processes. Assigning tasks, tracking progress, and setting deadlines can all be managed in Box.
Box is probably the most flawless cloud drive out there.
Other than a few outages that we experienced (that were resolved pretty quickly), there are no underperforming segments about Box in our opinion.
Box offers two individual plans suitable for personal use:
- Individual – Free (10 GB storage);
- Personal Pro – $10/month (100 GB storage).
Also, the business plans that Box is known for:
- Starter – $7/user/month (100 GB storage);
- Business – $20/user/month (unlimited storage);
- Business Plus – $33/user/month (unlimited storage);
- Enterprise – $47/user/month (unlimited storage).
Note that all Business plans come with a 25% discount if you opt for annual billing.
Time to wrap things up.
Technology advancements grant us opportunities to simplify our everyday lives and make most of how we take care of our personal and professional data. Currently, cloud file-storage and synchronization services are the best way to safekeep every document, photo, or work file. They provide enhanced security and accessibility for our files and streamline our work at the same time.
Today, we hope that we helped you learn more about these services. Google Drive is one of the top platforms that is widely used for its cloud storage and file management capabilities, but we also saw that it has its share of downsides.
With that being said, we provided our expert insight into the top Google Drive alternatives – Dropbox, Sync, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud, and Box. By now, you should have a better understanding of which one suits your needs the best.