OneDrive vs. Dropbox: Which is Best for Personal and Business?


    In the realm of cloud storage, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox stand as experienced contenders. Despite the abundant storage space offered at affordable rates, selecting between these two apps involves more than just considering volume. If you’ve been using Dropbox for an extended period, you might be surprised to find some of your files already synced with OneDrive unknowingly. To facilitate a comparison, a closer examination of both platforms reveals distinctions, particularly relevant for those in creative industries or those procuring software for early-stage business operations. The decision between OneDrive and Dropbox becomes more straightforward within these contexts, emphasizing the significance of exploring the disparities between the two.

    OneDrive is for Microsoft Users

    If you use Microsoft or have a Microsoft 365 account, you probably already use OneDrive. If you like Microsoft, there’s not much need to spend money on another app that does the same thing.

    But if you’re not happy with Microsoft’s apps and features, maybe you’re on the wrong plan. Upgrading to a business or enterprise plan with extra apps, such as Yammer and SharePoint, is simple. Since your users already know the Microsoft interface, it’s easy for them to learn and start using new Microsoft apps quickly.

    For Microsoft users, OneDrive is the easy route, but it has its drawbacks. When you’re on a Microsoft plan, it’s easy to stick with their apps, even if another app could be better for you. The competition between OneDrive and Dropbox might be close, but it could be different for other apps in your Microsoft subscription. It might make you feel more tied to Microsoft than you’d like.

    However, if you’re not using a Microsoft product or thinking about switching away, seriously think about Dropbox as an option.

    Dropbox is More Flexible

    If you prefer choosing the best app rather than using the one that comes with your subscription, Dropbox is a good choice. It connects with many external tools available in its App Center. While Microsoft also works with other apps, it doesn’t offer as many options, and you might end up not using another Microsoft app for a different third-party tool.

    Dropbox has two main advantages in terms of flexibility:

    • You get to choose the best app for your needs, rather than just using what comes with your subscription.
    • Dropbox seamlessly works with both Google and Microsoft basic office applications, unlike OneDrive, which is more Microsoft-focused.

    This means that with Dropbox, you don’t have to create a document in one format and then change it to another to meet your client’s needs, avoiding duplicate files. This is especially handy if you’re a freelancer or a business that needs to use different file formats for clients, all within Dropbox. You can pick the working environment that suits you best.

    Remember, to use this feature, your Google or Microsoft account should use the same email as your Dropbox. A free account usually works, but if you have Dropbox Business (except Professional), you’ll need a paid Microsoft business subscription.

    OneDrive’s Storage is Limited for Small Teams on Paid Plans

    If cost matters a lot to you, know that OneDrive has a more generous free plan than Dropbox. Signing up for free gets you 5GB with OneDrive, while Dropbox only offers 2GB. These are not that many when compared to Google Drive, which offers the largest free plan and the cheapest paid cloud file storage of the three.

    You can increase your storage for free with both services by inviting friends:

    • OneDrive gives you an extra 500MB for each friend who signs up through your link, up to 10GB more.
    • Dropbox adds 500MB (or 1GB for Plus plan users) per referral, with a maximum of 16GB (or 32GB for Plus plan).

    Eventually, you might need more space. When upgrading, OneDrive offers two choices:

    • A simple plan with 1TB for $5 a month (yearly plan), similar to Dropbox.
    • A Microsoft 365 subscription also comes with 1TB and more features for other Microsoft apps.

    However, the maximum storage is 1TB per user. For more, you’ll need a OneDrive business plan and adjust the storage in the admin panel up to 25TB. For unlimited storage, contact Microsoft’s sales team.

    Dropbox’s paid plans provide more space, starting at 2TB and going up to 15TB. For unlimited storage, discuss with their team an Enterprise plan.

    There’s only one case where Microsoft might be better for storage, especially for business: if you have over 15 people in your team. Dropbox’s storage is shared across your team, not per person, which can be more limiting in this scenario.

    Dropbox is Better Based on User Experience

    OneDrive has a classic Microsoft look that’s familiar but not particularly impressive, while Dropbox offers a more modern and airy interface, which might be important to some. OneDrive lacks customization and options, with a somewhat confusing settings menu, but this isn’t a frequent issue. Upgrading to a paid OneDrive plan involves a lengthy setup that doesn’t seem to enhance the user experience. Its search functionality is also limited, lacking immediate suggestions or a search history unless activated in settings.

    In contrast, Dropbox excels with a user-friendly dashboard full of controls, filters, and sorting options, making it easier to manage your files. Its search feature is quick and efficient, offering suggestions and advanced filtering options. For regular, intensive use of a cloud drive, Dropbox might be more suitable due to its superior user experience, whereas OneDrive is adequate but not as refined.

    Dropbox vs. OneDrive for Business

    When you use OneDrive with a business plan, you get advanced tools to manage security and control features for your Microsoft 365 subscription, which includes not just cloud storage but also email and documents. This gives you a lot of control and customization options. However, these tools can be complex and detailed, requiring you to learn new apps like Microsoft Purview for data governance and Microsoft Defender for Business for security. This is great for IT teams but can be overwhelming for regular users.

    Dropbox, focusing mainly on cloud storage, has a simpler admin console with clear explanations for each setting, user-friendly language, and built-in security features like ransomware detection and malware prevention. Dropbox also offers a feature called Dropbox Rewind to recover lost data, with version history varying from 30 days to 10 years, depending on your plan.

    On the other hand, OneDrive’s version history can be complex but allows up to 500 versions of files. You can adjust these settings in the Microsoft SharePoint admin dashboard and use OneDrive’s Recycle Bin for file restoration. If you can’t find what you need there, a second-stage Recycle Bin is also available for further recovery.

    OneDrive vs. Dropbox: Which Should You Use?

    For personal use, both OneDrive and Dropbox work well, and choosing between them depends on your needs. If you’re a creative professional dealing with audio, video, or large files, Dropbox might be more suitable for you. For businesses that prefer Microsoft products, OneDrive, combined with a Microsoft 365 subscription, offers a comprehensive package with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, email, and collaboration tools, scalable to your business needs.

    However, for larger businesses requiring compliance and governance features, Microsoft 365 is often more comprehensive. It’s a good idea to have your IT team evaluate the features of both services against your business’s specific operational and legal requirements. Still, Dropbox could be beneficial for creative projects or specific team needs, potentially enhancing productivity.