Who needs an external hard drive? The shift to “cloud” storage has changed the way we store and access files. When something is stored in the cloud, it’s essentially saved to a personal online account to be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. It works similar to your office’s computer network, in which you and everyone in the building can access files from different computers across the network.
Learn more about the capabilities of the Internet today and take advantage of all that cloud storage has
How it works
- Create a Dropbox or Google account.
- Install Dropbox or Google Drive on all your computers.
- When you install, the program will place a folder on your hard drive. The folder on each computer is connected to your online account.
- When you add, delete, or edit files from one folder, it saves the changes online and synchronizes your files across all your folders from the same account.
Cloud storage gives you access to all your files from everywhere. Instead of toting around a USB drive or emailing files to yourself to get them from one PC to another, all you need is an Internet connection.
Google Drive vs. Dropbox
1) Synchronization: Dropbox and Google Drive are both efficient at uploading files to the server and syncing changes. However, Google Drive tends to experience a few more errors, and it seems to be more sluggish on startup – you have to wait a bit longer for Google to “scan the web.” However, the difference isn’t significant enough to warrant a recommendation one way or another.
2) Web Access: Unlike Dropbox, Google Drive integrates with Google Docs. In fact, the interface is so similar and the services are so compatible that when you install Google Drive, it complete replaces Google Docs on your Google account. Google Drive enables you to edit files from the web a bit more seamlessly than Dropbox, and it comes out on top here.
3) Mobile: Both services offer apps for iOS and Android, but Dropbox has a more intuitive interface in its apps.
4) Usability: Both services are easy to use, but there’s one small difference that people who like to do things quickly will notice. Dropbox enables you to double-click on the taskbar icon (or menu bar for Mac) to open the folder. Google Drive offers no such functionality. You have to either access the folder from your desktop, or use a collapsible menu on the Dock (Mac) – none of which are quite as fast and convenient as opening the Dropbox folder.
5) Storage: Google offers more free initial storage for new users – in fact, more than twice as much as Dropbox. Although Dropbox does offer more free space for referrals, Drive is the clear winner in this category.
If you need more initial storage and love Google’s services, including Google Docs, go with Google Drive. But at this point, Dropbox is the more polished and user-friendly service. That said, I wouldn’t count on this being true for much longer. Drive is relatively new and, given Google’s track record, should supplant Dropbox as the top cloud storage service in the near future.