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Guide: iCloud vs Google Drive: Everything you need to know
Both iCloud and Google Drive (now Google One) are two of the largest cloud storage services in the industry. This is mainly due to their widespread presence as a standard means of support up data on iOS and Android respectively. Both provide the convenience of accessing files from various devices and essential countermeasures in case of hardware failure.
However, both cloud repositories have major differences that can make or break the deal when it comes to factors like availability, free storage, or general convenience in general. If you are wondering how they stack up against each other, then you’ve come to the right place. So without further ado, let’s dive in.back to menu ↑
Cross platform availability
iCloud is available on iOS and macOS by default. However, it is not limited to just Apple devices – Windows users can download iCloud for Windows sync client and access their files on PC.
Unfortunately, Apple leaves Android in the dark with no native iCloud app support. While there is an iCloud web app you can use to sign in and manage the content in iCloud, it usually doesn’t work properly on mobile browsers.
Google Drive supports all platforms: Android (usually pre-installed), Windows, iOS or macOS. Both mobile platforms have dedicated apps that can be downloaded from the Play Store and App Store, while desktops require the Backup & Sync client installed.
Google Drive’s sleek web app also provides the perfect way to access files from virtually anywhere. The support for third-party apps means that desktop users can have an improved experience compared to iCloud’s web offering.back to menu ↑
Convenience and ease of use
Apple integrates iCloud into an iOS or macOS device by default. So you can easily manage your files and documents with the Files app or Finder. And if you’ve turned on iCloud Photo Library, your photos and videos should also be instantly available on all Apple devices through the Photos app.
iCloud is integrated into the Files app on iOS.
On Windows PCs, iCloud offers a mixed experience. Even after going through the various issues associated with installing the iCloud sync client, more often than not you would run into long sync times or a glitchy photo library. And if you’re using an Android device, you’d better forget about access to your iCloud files altogether since Google’s mobile platform is not supported at all.
What about Google Drive? On Android, it’s pre-installed or available from the Play Store and well-optimized for the back up your data to the cloud. But unlike iCloud with its complete disregard for Android, Google Drive is also available on iOS and offers the ability to open and upload files to the cloud. Furthermore, Google Drive can also be managed via the Files app.
Google Drive on Android and iOS allows you to seamlessly upload files straight from the app itself.
On a desktop, you can rest assured that the backupupand sync client keeps both your Google Drive cloud storage and custom local folders in sync. And unlike the mess iCloud makes on Windows, Back-up and sync pretty good as neither Windows nor macOS can be considered ‘native’.
Institution up Back-up and synchronization on a desktop.
In short, Google Drive offers more convenience due to its wide availability and the ability to function smoothly on any platform without any significant issues.back to menu ↑
Web apps in action
On a desktop, you can also access your files stored on iCloud through iCloud.com. The web app allows you to manage files, upload and download content, share documents and view your photo library once you are done logging in. It’s quite useful on Windows devices when the iCloud sync client isn’t doing its job properly.
With iCloud.com you can create folders, move files or upload and download items with your browser.
Furthermore, the iCloud web app also gives you access to the iWork productivity suite (Pages, Numbers and Keynote), so you can create new documents and edit them seamlessly from the browser itself.
The iCloud.com Launchpad provides instant access to all iCloud services.
Overall, the web app works pretty well, except for one big quirk – it doesn’t offer the ability to select multiple items with a single mouse or touchpad drag (unless you’re willing to choose items individually), which sometimes makes file management a bit annoying.
Google Drive also offers its web app with intuitive controls that make it easy to manage files and folders from any browser. Also available is Google’s productivity suite (Docs, Sheets and Slides), which rivals the iCloud iWork web apps with better optimization and features because of its cloud-oriented nature.
Google Drive’s web app feels much smoother in performing common tasks as compared to iCloud’s.
But what makes Google Drive even unique is its unprecedented support for third-party apps and add-ons. Want to play some music or split a PDF in half? No problem – expect dozens of apps for almost any task you can think of.
Connect third-party apps to improve Google Drive functionality on the web.
And using Google Chrome as your primary web browser makes using the Google Drive web app even more convenient as you are always signed in to your Google account.back to menu ↑
Google Photos vs. My Photo Stream
While you can manually upload photos and videos to Google Drive, it’s always best to use Google Photos for the job. While it’s still tied to your Google Drive storage quota, Google Photos brings home a nice surprise in itself.
Note: Automatic backupup via Google Photos can be enabled using the Backup & Sync client on a desktop.
Just use High Quality mode to upload your photos and videos and they won’t use up any storage that is pretty neat, as bulky multimedia libraries shouldn’t be a problem anymore. While your files are compressed to some degree (16MP for photos and 1080p for videos), the visual quality degradation should really not cause any problems in normal use.
High quality doesn’t count. Original counts.
iCloud Photo Library, on the other hand, syncs your multimedia library across devices, including Windows. While there is no option similar to Google Photos that allows unlimited uploads, iCloud still offers the option to switch to My Photo Stream, with limited photo sync capabilities (1000 images at any one time) at no cost for storage.
Switch to My Photo Stream and your photos will not be used up storage, albeit with severe limitations.
However, my photo stream will delete your backupup up Photos from iCloud automatically after 30 days and shouldn’t be used unless you really run out of space in the cloud.back to menu ↑
iCloud offers 5 GB of free storage space per account, which is pretty sparse. One iOS System Backupup, combined with a few hundred high-resolution photos, is enough to fill up your free storage quota. And then it is time to pay. Apple has been sticking to the same free baseline ever since, which is ridiculous given the massive storage requirements over the years.
Google Drive instead offers a generous 15 GB of cloud storage, which should obviously take a while upThere are also exceptions to what exactly counts towards your quota, which makes things even better. For example, documents you create with Google Docs don’t use up space, which means you can have thousands of documents without using an ounce of storage space.
Google Drive instead offers a generous 15 GB of cloud storage, which should obviously take a while up
And then there’s the deal with Google Photos, which, as you found out, allows for unlimited photo and video uploads. Therefore, with some smart management, Google Drive should last on average significantly longer compared to iCloud.back to menu ↑
One area that both cloud storages can agree on is pricing – at least when it comes to cost per GB. ICloud’s immediately paid storage is 50 GB and costs $ 0.99 per month, while Google Drive offers 100 GB for $ 1.99 / month. Pretty similar when you do the math, but iCloud has an advantage if you don’t need more than 50 GB storage space.
Additional Google Drive storage tiers are also available with 10 TB, 20 TB and 30 TB.
iCloud and Google Drive too feature additional storage tiers of 200 GB and 2 TB, and cost $ 2.99 and $ 9.99 respectively – no difference. If you really want even more storage, it’s Google Drive that has you covered with its 10TB, 20TB, and 30TB tiers.back to menu ↑
Verdict: Use Google Drive
Google Drive beats iCloud hands down. The former is available on all popular platforms and also offers a significantly larger quota of free storage space and is much more convenient to use than iCloud. It also has an excellent solution for multimedia items that need a lot of storage space in the form of Google Photos.
Android users are set comfortably up with Google Drive, but there’s practically no reason why you shouldn’t use it on other platforms. Yes, Apple devices are tightly integrated with iCloud. But using Google Drive for most file uploads while leaving iCloud for essential document and system backups should work wonders if you hate coughing up cash for paid storage.back to menu ↑
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