22Oct 2015

racecarWe get a lot of questions about which Cloud storage service is “better.” This is a difficult question to answer, because “better” is a subjective term. Every service has strengths and weaknesses. When responding to inquiries like this, we prefer to focus on objective qualities, like the features and benefits provided by the service.In the case of Cloud storage, many users ask about two contenders: Dropbox and Google Drive. Dropbox more-or-less created the current market for Cloud storage, and Google Drive brings with it all the advantages of the “Google ecosystem.”So what qualities do we look at when someone asks us which is better? For most users, it often boils down to one thing—which service will get their files to-and-from the Cloud, in the background, with little-or-no waiting on their part. In other words, it’s all about speed.

And when it comes to speed, there is really no comparison. Dropbox is faster, for a few reasons.

First, Dropbox uses “block-level transfer,” which is a fancy way of saying that if you make a small change to a 2GB file that Dropbox already has in the Cloud, it syncs only the change, not the entire file. Google Drive has to upload the entire 2GB file all over again.

In addition, if someone else has already uploaded the exact same file that you are uploading (for instance, the full software package for your HP printer) then Dropbox recognizes this and simply gives you access to the copy of the file it already has in the Cloud. An instant “upload.”

Finally, Dropbox uses something called “LAN Sync,” which turns the Dropbox-enabled computers on your local network into little Dropbox servers. Imagine you put a new computer online, install Dropbox, and tell it to download your company’s entire 900 GB Dropbox folder. With LAN Sync, the first thing the new system will do is check with the other computers on the same network, to see if any of them have the Dropbox data it needs. If so, it will copy the data from those computers across the local network, rather than downloading it from the Internet. Much, much faster. To throw in a shameless Royals reference, “that’s what speed do.”

There are many reasons to choose a particular Cloud storage service. If speed is your determining factor, however, then there is no question about it—Dropbox is the service for you.


Brian S. Pauls is the president of PerAspera Consulting, LLC, providing comprehensive technology solutions–from the Web, to mobile devices, to the desktop. He tries keep his head in the Cloud as much as possible.