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Guide: Google Drive vs Dropbox vs SpiderOak: Comparison and Review
It feels like cloud services are flat. We are all familiar with how Dropbox works and how documents are stored in Google Drive. We like to work on it online, rather than with local copies. Aside from cloud storage price drops and the ongoing privacy debate, there’s not much going on.
Now that cloud storage has become popular, it is sometimes difficult to tell which of the many services are popping up up is the best. Google Drive, Dropbox and SpiderOak are similar in many ways. They give you a box to store your files, have iOS, Android apps and web access to retrieve documents or previous versions of it easily. They’re free to start with, have paid options for additional storage, and best of all, they’re reliable.
So in this article, I’ll focus on the differences rather than the similarities. And now it comes down to the cost, the ecosystem and the privacy. Let’s get started.back to menu ↑
Cost / space ratio
Google Drive offers you 15 GB of free storage space. But this is shared across all of your Google services, including Gmail and Google+ photos (the high-resolution photos that don’t qualify for unlimited free storage). This means if you have large attachment files stored in Gmail, it’s time to clean up.
Dropbox and SpiderOak both start with 2 GB of free storage. Available upgrades are on the expensive side. While you can get 100 GB on Drive for $ 1.99 per month, the same costs $ 9.99 on Dropbox and SpiderOak. But Dropbox is pretty generous when it comes to giving away space. You can easily make a few gigs by sharing the links, sending the referral code, or a phone with bundled cloud storage like Galaxy S5 and many others (50 GB of free storage for 2 years is the usual deal and Drive does this for handsets like Moto G too).
SpiderOak doesn’t like to play Oprah with their storage space, though.
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Ecosystem and services
Dropbox is your way out of the rut of the ecosystem.
When you buy hardware or software, you are really buying into the “ecosystem”. Like it or not, that’s the truth. So if you pick the privacy first (SpiderOak over Dropbox) but then can’t connect to your favorite Markdown editor on iOS, you’re in trouble.
Business users who work on the web will appreciate Google Drive’s productivity suite and the plethora of extensions and apps available. If you want something personal, you can always knock it up with a script.
Dropbox is truly cross-platform and has by far the best integration with the cloud-related services I’ve seen. When the iOS 8 integration comes in, I’m sure Dropbox will be there on day one, just like Google Drive. But Drive still lags behind with third-party app integration. So please check your app’s compatibility before choosing your cloud service.back to menu ↑
Ever since the NSA story came out, everyone has been thinking about privacy. The cloud in particular has received a lot of attention. The problem stems from the fact that many users are not quite familiar with how ‘the cloud’ even works. It is a mystery to most.
SpiderOak is the only service on the list with a “zero knowledge” policy. It means that the company does not know what is in your files and cannot access them. Of course, Google and Dropbox also encrypt your files, but SpiderOak takes it one step further. The encryption key is appropriate for the user. That means when the FBI comes knocking on their door and claims your files, SpiderOak will give it to them but since the encryption key is with you, they need a government order / permission to fly around.
However, Google Drive and Dropbox don’t mind giving full access to your data to the appropriate authorities. More on that here. Of course, this doesn’t mean that SpiderOak is completely private and no one can ever get into it. But it’s good enough for Edward Snowden to use, and that’s a guy whose privacy advice is easy to follow.
But SpiderOak’s biggest problem is lack of integration with major services. You can use it as a replacement for Dropbox for apps that run on a desktop that have a file picker, but not for mobile apps with tight cloud integration.
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SpiderOak has structured their system so that you can store all your information on it with the same kind features Dropbox does that, but they literally can’t access the content. So while they can be forced to hand it over, the law enforcement agencies still have to go to a judge and get an order to actually get your encryption key from you. – Edward Snowden
So to recap
- Dropbox for all ecosystems.
- Drive for the free storage and integrated productivity suite.
- SpiderOak for privacy, but little else.
Images credit: Images Money, opensource.com.back to menu ↑
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