Google Drive illustration
Free Storage Space: 15 GB, shared between Drive, Gmail, and Google+ photos larger than 2048 x 2048 px
Premium Space: 100 GB for $4.99/month; 200 GB for $9.99/month
Document editing: Yes
Defining Feature: Real-time, online collaboration
Google Drive provides a great system not only for syncing files between multiple devices and the internet but also for sharing files. Plus, Drive seamlessly integrates with Gmail, a handy feature for Gmail users. But Drive’s true standout feature is real-time collaboration. Within Drive you can create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and drawings. When you share these files with others, they can view and/or edit (depending on the permissions you give them) within their browser; there is no need to open additional software such as Microsoft Office. Most importantly, changes made to the file are viewable in real time. This allows for arguably the best file collaboration online, good enough to write multi-author books and crowdsource the content for a social protest ad (which incorporated as many as 20 writers editing the document at the same time!). As a bonus, Drive also stores your files from Chrome apps like Pixlr Editor and WeVideo.
Free Storage Space: 5 GB along with free storage of music, movies, apps, books, and TV shows purchased from the App Store or iTunes along with your 1,000 most recent photos
Premium Space: 10 GB for $20/year, 20 GB for $40/year, 50 GB for $100/year
Document editing: Coming soon
Defining Feature: No setup required
iCloud is a service that comes preloaded on iOS devices and Macs. By simply logging into your iCloud account, iCloud will sync your music, movies, TV shows, books, and photos across your connected devices. It also syncs your device settings, app data (such as your Safari browsing history and calendar items), home screen and app organization, messages, and ringtones.
Because of its closed nature (iCloud is not available on non-Apple devices), I’d label iCloud as more of a backup service for iOS and Mac than a full-fledged cloud storage tool. But that’s not to say it doesn’t come with neat features. For example, iCloud provides a special sharing space for photos, called Photo Streams, where you can view and comment on friends’ pictures.
iCloud is bound to become a bit more open in the near future, though. As we reported during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple will soon release iWork for iCloud, which will allow you to edit iWork and Office documents within Safari and (gasp!) Chrome and Internet Explorer.
Free Storage Space: 2 GB initially, up to 18 GB through referalls
Premium Space: 100, 200, or 500 GB starting at $9.99/month
Document editing: No
Defining Feature: Universality. Dropbox integrates with many apps, web services, and devices
Unlike Google Drive and iCloud, Dropbox isn’t brought to you by a tech giant whose sole goal is to force you to use their entire suite of services. Rather, Dropbox focuses only on cloud storage and how to make it as easy for you to use. In other words, Dropbox is an equal opportunity cloud storage service: no matter if you prefer Google over Apple or the Kindle Fire over the iPad, you can use DropBox. Besides bringing you solid document syncing and an intuitive Web interface for organizing your files, Dropbox is available to integrate with almost every other app, service, and device you use. No other cloud storage service offers this same flexibility.
Here are just a few of the services Dropbox integrates with, helping you backup photos, share files, and stream your music, among other things:
Screenshto of Box
Free Storage Space: 5 GB
Premium Space: Up to 50 GB
Document editing: Yes
Defining Feature: Integration with Google Drive, Salesforce CRM, NetSuite, and Jive
While Box offers reliable file syncing, its real value lies in corporate and group solutions. Box partners with universities and companies to provide cloud solutions for their storage needs, offering them the flexibility to manage not only their files, but projects as well.
Box allows you to create shared online workspaces where you can share documents with others and view, edit, and comment on the same files. B
ox tracks your file versions, so work done is never lost. Box also allows groups to manage projects, allowing you to assign tasks and send notifications to colleagues, all supported by a real-time activity feed. One of the most handy features of Box, though, is the capability it lends for file editing. You can edit a file online and offline using Box, and the service will resolve conflicts between disparate versions across users’ accounts. On Windows computers you can even edit Box files directly within Microsoft Office. Box also offers Google Drive integration, so you can view, edit, and sync Google Docs within Box.
Free Storage Space: 7 GB
Premium Space: 20 GB for $10/year, 50 GB for $25, 100 GB for $50
Document editing: Yes
Defining Feature: Use Microsoft Office online for free, even if you don’t have Microsoft Office installed on your computer
SkyDrive, though often looked down upon as inferior to services like Google Drive and Dropbox, offers features you can’t find anywhere else. Just like Google Drive, SkyDrive allows you to collaborate on documents online in real-time. The difference is that you’re collaborating on actual Office documents instead of online-based Google Docs. Similar to Box, SkyDrive stores the 25 previous versions of a file so you can revert to an older version. SkyDrive also integrates with a fair share of apps, including IFTTT, HelloSign, HelloFax, and iAnnotate PDF. The distinguishing feature of SkyDrive, however, is that it provides you free access to Microsoft Office, even if you don’t have Office installed on your computer. Given, this is a limited version of the software available online, but this feature is still helpful when working on someone else’s computer or when not every team member owns the same version of Microsoft Office.
Cloud storage comparison
|OneDrive||Dropbox||Google Drive||Box||Amazon Cloud Drive|
|File size restrictions?||10GB||10GB with website, none with Dropbox apps||5TB||250MB for free plan, 5GB for paid personal plan||2GB*|
|Can I earn extra free storage?||No**||Yes||No||No||No|
|Paid plans||$2/month for 50GB**||$10/month for 1TB||$2/month 100GB, $10/month for 1TB||$10/month for 100GB||$12/year for unlimited photos, $60/year for unlimited files|
|OSes supported||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Kindle Fire||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Kindle Fire|