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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Comparing Cloud Storage: Google Drive vs Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive: From 15GB to 5GB!

The other night, I opened up my inbox, and saw the announcement. I had guessed that it was coming, but it took me by surprise....

If you haven't heard the news, Microsoft is cutting down its free cloud storage for freeloaders like you and I. Microsoft offered 15GB of glorious free cloud storage on their OneDrive service. Photo rolls were a bonus 15GB. In comparison, Google's 15GB starting package for free users, offers only 15GB, which combines Google Drive, Gmail, and photos. Microsoft's OneDrive looked much more generous than Google Drive.

However, in that recent e-mail I mentioned, Microsoft said that free users will have their cloud storage reduced.... to only 5GB! Needless to say, many Internet users are unhappy with the announcement. I assume that many had uploaded more than 5GB and are now wondering where to move their files, or whether they should subscribe to premium storage.

Here are some Twitter users reactions:

I also use Microsoft OneDrive. Unlike those Twitter users, I have less than 5GB stored in my OneDrive, so I'm not overly concerned. But I can understand how they feel.

To be fair, Microsoft had made an announcement regarding the matter a few months back. So it wasn't a complete surprise. Here is a November 2015 article from Windows Central on the "downgrade" to 5GB.

But this is not the type of thing that you think you need to worry about it. It comes suddenly, like a surprise. "Hey dude! Your 15GB is now being resized, to..... surprise! 5GB. Don't forget to say thank you, eh?"

I felt that it would be a good time to compare the paid and free packages from Google and Microsoft. (I had originally thought of including Yahoo! in the comparison, but then I learned..... Yahoo! doesn't have cloud storage (with a dashboard) similar to Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.)

Free Plans: Google Drive vs Microsoft OneDrive

In a comparison of their free plans, I needed to confirm one thing: Does Microsoft's OneDrive storage quota include email attachments? I couldn't find the answer. (I don't know the answer even now.) The closest I could find was from this page on Storage Limits in
Storage space for your email is ever-growing, but If the amount of email in your inbox and folders grows too fast, it may bump up against the account's quota, and you might not be able to send or receive any messages. People who send you email will get an error message that your inbox is full.

So there is no indication about the link between usage, and OneDrive space. But that should also mean that the inbox size does not affect OneDrive space quota. Without inbox taking up space in your precious OneDrive cloud storage, you will get 5GB clean from Microsoft.

As for Google Drive, storage in the free 15GB is shared between GMail, Drive and Photos. Things can get quite full, quite soon. But still, 15GB is 3x more than 5GB.

So at the free tier, Google Drive is better. You get 15GB. With Microsoft you only get 5GB. (I still need to confirm whether this 5GB is shared with the e-mail inbox.)

WINNER FOR THIS SEGMENT: GOOGLE DRIVE (unless you get a lot of e-mail attachments, or upload a lot of photos, then the 15GB will run out pretty quickly.)

Important: Preliminary Notice about USD-MYR Exchange Rate

Please Note: The price comparison segments that follow are based on the exchange rate of USD1 => MYR4 (as of 8th May 2016). Microsoft charges in MYR on its website. Google charges in USD.

Depending on currency exchange fluctuations, Google Drive's 1TB subscription could be considered "affordable" or a "luxury". Onward to the price comparison segments....

Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are two popular cloud storage solutions, with free and premium subscriptions. Read on to find out what I think about both of these services.

Most Affordable Paid Plan (Lowest Tier)

At the lowest premium tier, Microsoft OneDrive currently offers 50GB at RM7.99 per month. This space is only for storage. That works out to about RM95.88 per year. (That said, Microsoft doesn't offer any other storage-only subscription.)

At the lowest tier, Google Drive offers 100GB at USD1.99 per month. This space is shared between emails (GMail), Drive, and Photos. That works out to USD23.88 per year, or about RM96 per year.

So, at the lowest tier, or most affordable paid plan, Google Drive is better. For about the same price, you get twice the amount of storage with Google.


1TB Paid Plan

Microsoft's paid plans seem to be stuck at the 1TB plan at highest. But the 1TB plans come as part of the "Office 365 Personal + 1TB" plan. It costs RM280 per year, or RM28 per month. You can get Office 2016 installed on your computer when you subscribe.

Google Drive has plans for 1TB, 10TB, 20TB and 30TB subscriptions. But since we are trying to compare apple for apple, we will look at the 1TB subscription only. The 1TB subscription from Google Drive is only $9.99 per month. That works out to about USD119.88 per year, or about RM480 per year. And of course you get Google Docs, which bring word processing and spreadsheet capability. But Google Docs isn't as pretty as Microsoft Office.

So, at the 1TB storage tier, Microsoft OneDrive is better. It comes with Office 365 Personal. And you can install Office 2016 on your computer. (Actually, you'll be subscribing to the Office365 personal, which comes with 1TB space.) 


Overall Winner

It really depends on your needs. If you are starting out with cloud storage, you probably will find that 100GB is more than enough. In that case, go for Google Drive. The disadvantage of Google Drive is you'll find it difficult to share files with people in China. (In contrast, Microsoft OneDrive loads fine in China.)

If, on the other hand, you want more than 1TB of cloud storage, you might want to consider Microsoft OneDrive. It comes with a more functional office suite, and you can get Office 2016 for your computer as well.

If, somehow, you have tonnes of data to store in the cloud (perhaps you've scanned every document in your life just in case?) and your needs exceed 1TB.... Microsoft OneDrive can't cater to your needs. In that case, you'll need Google Drive. (Again, if you're moving to China, you'll have problems accessing Google Drive. But you can get around it with a VPN service.)

Speaking of Cloud-based Office Suites...

I recently signed up for, a free cloud-based office suite. They somehow managed to put LibreOffice in the cloud. Interestingly enough, it seems that with your free account, you will get 20GB of storage space. 

20GB of free cloud storage -- it's more than Google Drive's free offering, and definitely more than Microsoft OneDrive's free package. And the office suite works great, too. (It's LibreOffice! I'm biased!) 

The only thing missing is integration with your e-mail inbox. That's where you would want to continue using GMail or Outlook, where you can click on an attachment and easily save the attachment to your Drive (or OneDrive, depending). After saving the attachment from the email, you can easily share the files from the cloud. 

That's the allure for me, for now. No more virus-loaded thumbdrives for transferring files from one PC to the next. Just save, upload, and share.

(Tip: If you're using Linux, virus-loaded thumbdrives won't be a problem. You'll have superpowers against Windows-based viruses.)

Get 0.5 GB extra when signing up for Microsoft OneDrive

(Updated 16th September 2016)

I was just made aware of this: For existing users of Microsoft OneDrive, you can increase your OneDrive account size by recruiting new OneDrive users. Both you and the new recruit will get 0.5 GB of space.

So here is my link, to invite you to sign up for Microsoft OneDrive. You will get 5.5 GB of cloud storage, and my current 5 GB will go up to 5.5 GB.

This is from a screen capture of my OneDrive account.

My OneDrive account is almost full. You can help me.

Thanks in advance!

Comments Welcome!

Are you a Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive user? Please leave a comment about their service.