Google Drive vs Microsoft OneDrive

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Google Drive vs Microsoft OneDrive
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Extra features

Although Google and Microsoft have opted for minimal desktop apps for storage, both companies include a host of web apps for sharing files, email, document-editing and more.

Microsoft OneDrive users also get Outlook online, along with web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and more – and the option of downloading mobile versions of these apps.  Google account holders get similar web and mobile apps in the form of Gmail, Calendar, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Keep.

Neither Google’s nor Microsoft’s web apps match the features found on Microsoft Office’s desktop applications, but they do have enough features to create and edit simple documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. They also offer quite powerful collaboration features, such as the ability to share documents and for multiple users to work on documents simultaneously.

In our view, neither Google’s nor Microsoft’s web apps should be a deal breaker when it comes to deciding on Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Both are competent apps that allow users to do light work on documents, and collaborate on those documents, without the need to have fully fledged office suites installed.

Compatibility and deployment

Those looking to use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive need to consider what devices you or your business’s users have, or what devices you intend to deploy – although this is now less of a consideration now that both companies have realised that customers live in a heterogeneous world and apps have to work with the multitude of operating systems.

There’s now little between the two services when it comes to compatibility. Google Drive can be accessed via a web browser or apps for Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS – and there are separate Android and iOS apps for Drive’s companion applications: Gmail, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.  

Microsoft offers much the same apps for OneDrive, plus Windows Phone for those still using that mobile operating system.

Both Google's and Microsoft's services are offered on a multi-tenant public cloud, so you need to consider what type of data will be used on the service, how sensitive it is and the possible legalities or compliance issues of it being stored in the cloud, or outside Australia. If the latter is an important consideration for you, Australian Office 365 users’ data is said to be hosted in Microsoft’s Australian data centres – though this is something you should confirm with Microsoft, checking that instances of data are not hosted offshore for backup or disaster-recovery purposes.

It is also important to note the fact neither service offers automatic data encryption and with smartphones and tablets having access to accounts, safeguards on user accounts and user's devices need to be put into place.


Google and Microsoft offer reliable, fast, easy to use storage clouds with clients that run on a number of different operating systems.

Overall, in terms of the storage on offer, Google Drive has the best-value budget and free plans, but if you need 1TB or more per user, Microsoft edges ahead.

However, both offer very good value cloud storage, along with a host of additional features, including the ability to create, edit, share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and slideshows online.

Users that have grown up on Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint will feel right at home with the Microsoft option, but on the other hand, Gmail has a lot of users too. For businesses, careful consideration of what applications your employees are experienced with could reduce time spent on training and support.

If you need full-blown office desktop apps, Microsoft wins hands-down – if you’re prepared to upgrade to Office 365. Otherwise, it’s a tough choice that may come down to how much storage you need now and potentially in the future, your budget, application preferences, and one or two specific features.

Before making your final decision, we advise trialling both, along with other cloud storage options, particularly if you don’t need the extra applications that come with OneDrive and Google Drive.

This feature is based on an article that originally appeared at IT Pro.

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