Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive: which is best for your business?

 In Cloud

Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive are the most popular cloud storage providers today. Picking between them isn’t easy. Each has its particular strengths and weaknesses; and the right one for you will hinge on what exactly you need to do with it.

That’s why I’m going to provide you with all the information you need to assess these cloud storage providers for yourself; because you’re the best judge of how your specific workplace operates.

Cloud storage has a number of uses and benefits. Files are accessible from anywhere you’ve got internet, they’re easy to share, and can facilitate multi-user collaboration. But you need to be aware of the capabilities and limitations of each platform; and let’s not pretend price isn’t a factor here, as well.

Because this advice is intended for business users, I’m limiting my appraisal to the business-level packages of these providers: Dropbox Business, Google One and OneDrive for Business.

File sharing

File sharing works similarly across all platforms, relying on internet links that point to files and folders, but links can be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands. To assist with content control, additional file linking features such as passwords and expiry dates should be used.

Security of links and verification of users

Security of links and verification of users is paramount in protecting your data from outside parties. That’s why it’s better to go with a provider who supports more sophisticated content management procedures.

All of the providers make it easy to share file or folder links, and to restrict access to specific invitees. When it comes to added security measures:

  • Google One doesn’t offer content control features like expiry dates or passwords.
  • OneDrive for Business will support expiry dates, but there’s no way to create link passwords.
  • Dropbox Business supports both link expiry dates and link passwords.

Activity tracking, version control and deleted file retrieval

Even if you’ve done absolutely everything to ensure that only authorised personnel can access your files, you might find that files are accidentally deleted or amended by those personnel. In this case, you’ll be glad of an activity tracking, version control or file retrieval functions available to you.

  • Google Docs allows you to roll back to previous versions of a document and see what changes others have made; and Google One does a decent job of managing older versions of non-native files, automatically keeping them for 30 days or 100 revisions. Deleted files are also retained for 30 days.
  • OneDrive for Business has deleted file retention and versioning, so you can roll back to previous versions of a document or retrieve a deleted file. The default retention period for OneDrive is 30 days on deleted files, or 500 versions for version history.
  • Dropbox Business also has versioning and deleted file retention of all file types for 120 days.

Ranking:

  1. Dropbox Business has the most sophisticated sharing features (both expiry dates and passwords) and the longest file retention period.
  2. OneDrive for Business comes a close second for sharing and has good version control.
  3. Google One has the shortest retention periods and least sophisticated sharing capabilities.

Online collaboration

Online file sharing can facilitate multi-user collaboration, but not all platforms are able to support this behaviour.

Changes to files need to synchronise quickly, preferably in real-time. Otherwise, true collaboration is not possible. You also need to be able to share files quickly, and have content control.

  • Google One’s integration with Google Docs makes it easy to collaborate in real-time with others. You can suggest edits, make comments, roll back to previous versions and see what changes others made. Google Docs files synchronise almost immediately, depending on your internet connection. Google Docs also supports MS Office files.
  • OneDrive for Business is a Microsoft product, so you can create and edit Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Excel documents from a browser with Office Online, or open them through an installed MS Office suite on your computer. MS Office files synchronise fast; other files take longer.
  • Dropbox Business has built-in Office 365 integration, so you can view MS Office files. However, if you want to edit you will need an Office 365 subscription. Given that your O365 subscription includes access to OneDrive, this may make Dropbox redundant in your case.

Ranking:

  1. OneDrive for Business, because it facilitates real-time collaboration using Office Online; a format that is more common than Google Docs in the Aussie workplace.
  2. Google One because it has strong real-time collaboration capabilities through Google Docs.
  3. Dropbox Business does not support in-app collaboration unless you have an O365 subscription.

Security and privacy

In Australia, depending on your industry or annual turnover, securing important documents is regulated and mandated by law. Even if your business is not one of those subject to the Privacy Act, your staff and clients – like all of us – are becoming increasingly protective of their personally identifying information.

This means that the security and privacy of your data should a deal-breaker when choosing any cloud storage provider.

Google One, OneDrive for Business and Dropbox Business all protect your data using best practice encryption standards and support the use of two factor authentication (2FA) to prevent unauthorised account access.

On the face of it you might think that made them equal first place; but there are some other important considerations.

Data scanning

Google scans your file contents to serve you “personally relevant product features, such as customized search results [and] tailored advertising”. You may or may not find this to be of concern.

Dropbox and OneDrive also scan your files, but they do so only to protect themselves regarding suspect or illegal content and copyright violations. They don’t use your data to advertise at you.

Location of data servers

OneDrive Business hosts all content locally in Australia; whereas Dropbox and Google host data overseas. If you have any obligations to meet under the Privacy Act, it may be prudent to maintain your data onshore.

Cloud service providers based outside Australia may not be subject to Australian legislation; and it may be difficult for a regulator to enforce action against the provider if something goes wrong.

Ranking:

  1. OneDrive for Business houses its data in Australia, making it easier to meet obligations under the Privacy Act.
  2. Dropbox Business is a secure product, but your data will be housed offshore.
  3. Google One also houses your data offshore; and gets the worst placing here because of the way is uses your data for marketing purposes.

Pricing

Price can be a very strong factor in business decision-making. Each of the providers offers plans where a bigger spend more will get you more storage.

With OneDrive and Dropbox, more money also buys you more features. Google One does not limit the features you receive based on price, but it has a weaker product offering overall in terms of functionality.

  • Google One has multiple price points that offer good value for money at the lower end. A 2TB monthly plan will set you back AU$12.49 and it has no minimum user count. The price climbs sharply after that. The next plan up is 10TB at AU$124.99 per month. However, such a plan does not require multiple payments for additional users; it’s a single price for the whole business. You’ll be able to create and edit documents through Google docs no matter what plan you’re on.
  • OneDrive for Business has the best price for unlimited storage at around AU$13.70 per user per month – but you need a minimum of five users. What really adds value is that for an extra AU$3.50 p/m you’ll get full Office 365 access and desktop versions of the Office Suite. Regardless, even if you don’t want to pay the extra you can use Office Online to create and edit documents.
  • Dropbox Business has a minimum spend of three users per month. The Standard Plan will get you 3TB of storage and limited functionality for a monthly fee of AU$17.50 per user. The Advanced Plan provides full functionality and unlimited storage at AU$27.50 per user per month. In order to create and edit documents, you’ll need a separate Office 365 plan.

Ranking:

  1. OneDrive for Business provides the best “bang for your buck”.
  2. Google One is well priced for up to 2TB, and includes free access to Google Docs.
  3. Dropbox Business is the most expensive of the three, though it is the most rich in terms of administration features and file retention.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you need to store and share files or work collaboratively; OneDrive for Business is the best performer overall. It takes out the top spots for collaboration, security and pricing. Dropbox Business comes a far second, with Google One just behind in third place.

Here’s a summary of the outcomes, best to worst:

File sharing

Online collaboration

Pricing

Security and privacy

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