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Introducing Microsoft SkyDrive: Giving Dropbox and Google Drive a Run for the Money?

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Guest post by Arthur Clyne

Cloud based storage allows users to easily access their personal files and documents on remote servers and share files across multiple devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones. Up until recently, Dropbox has happily dominated the personal storage market. With the recent launch of Google and Microsoft’s much anticipated cloud services—Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive—the war drums are officially sounding!

Here we’ll look at capacity, integration and operating system compatibility to see how SkyDrive fares against the Dropbox and Google Drive. Which cloud service will you choose?

Capacity

All three services offer a free level of storage as well as a paid level that gives users more storage space for a yearly fee. Here’s how they stack up:

Free Versions

  • SkyDrive: 6 Gigabytes
  • Google Drive: 4 Gigabytes
  • Dropbox: 2 Gigabytes

Paid Versions

  • SkyDrive: 100 Gigabytes for $50/year
  • Google Drive: 100 Gigabytes for $60/year
  • Dropbox: 100 Gigabytes for $199/year

When it comes to capacity, SkyDrive by Microsoft is the clear winner in both free and paid versions. If someone is already a SkyDrive user and they upgrade to the new SkyDrive application, they will get an additional 25 GB of storage for free. All three services occasionally offer discounts and promotions, but SkyDrive offers the best value when it comes to cloud storage.

Integration

No matter how much online storage space you have, it’s all is worthless if you don’t have an easy way to access it. Each of the cloud storage services handle syncing files differently and depending on what kinds of files you use and how often you need to access them, one service might not be the best for all users. All three services have built in web access so files can be access from any web enabled device.

  • Users that deal with Microsoft Office files on a daily basis will appreciate its easy integration with Office Web Apps.
  • Users that frequently work with Google Docs files will have easy access to files on Google Drive.
  • Dropbox serves strictly as online storage and has no program integration on its own, but third party developers offer many add on applications that integrate Dropbox files with popular applications.

Operating System Compatibility

Each service offers an installable application for both Windows and Mac. The application service adds a very well integrated file system to users’ desktop system where files and folders show up as a familiar drop-down tree.

Files can be added simply by drag and dropping them to the application folder.

  • Microsoft SkyDrive falls slightly behind the others with no option to selectively sync files, so it’s all or nothing concerning the files placed in the SkyDrive folder.
  • Google Drive’s weakness comes from its lack of a proper iOS application at the time of writing making it hard to recommend for iPhone/iPad users who need access to files when on the go.
  • Dropbox stands out in this category supporting all major operating systems and devices including Blackberry.

Which Cloud’s For You?

When weighing all these options, the security concerns of keeping your files in the cloud should always be a priority. Users that need pure space should go with SkyDrive for its superior storage capacity in both its paid and free versions. For users that have to work with Office files on a daily basis, SkyDrive also is superior with its Office Web App integration. Google Docs users on the other hand would equally appreciate Google Docs integration with Google Drive. Users that need a variety of integration should look at the third party applications that are supported by Dropbox.

Arthur Clyne is a tech supporter and enthusiast over at expertIP, you can find him on Twitter at @ArthurClyne



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