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SkyDrive vs. Dropbox: Cloud Storage Service Showdown Reveals Strengths, Weaknesses

By Staff Reporter on July 22, 2013 4:42 PM EDT 0

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A comparison of two cloud storage services - Dropbox and SkyDrive. (Photo: Facebook/Dropbox)

In a cloud storage showdown, which is better -- SkyDrive or Dropbox? When it comes to file transferring, storage and backing up, these two services both have their strengths and weaknesses. Comparing the two cloud storage services, the SkyDrive versus Dropbox face-off reveals that preference depends on whether pricing or power takes precedence.

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SkyDrive vs. Dropbox Storage & Pricing

The SkyDrive cloud storage service comes with 7GB of free storage. Consumers can upgrade to 27GB, 57GB and 107GB for an annual cost of $10, $25 and $50, respectively. In terms of pricing, SkyDrive is the superior choice, offering more initial free storage and cheaper upgrade options than Dropbox. Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage up front. Users can upgrade to 100GB, 200GB and 500GB for an annual cost of $99, $199 and $499, respectively. Dropbox also offers monthly upgrade pricing fees for a cheaper, less long-term commitment. Monthly total stands at $9.99 for 100GB, $19.99 for 200GB and $49.99 for 500GB. While SkyDrive has the upper hand in a more cost-efficient storage plan, Dropbox has a referral program that gives users 500MB of additional storage space for every friend referred to the cloud storage service. With this referral incentive, Dropbox users can max out with 20GB of free storage after 35 recommendations. In the end, SkyDrive is a cheaper cloud storage option. However, if consumers decide to take the initiative to make referrals, Dropbox could pose as an equally cost-efficient option.

SkyDrive vs. Dropbox Supported Platforms

SkyDrive supports Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android and Windows Phone platforms. There is some overlap with supported platforms between the two, however only SkyDrive supports Windows Phone. Dropbox, on the other hand, is the only present cloud service to support Linux and Blackberry.

SkyDrive vs. Dropbox Security

When it comes to security for these different cloud storage service options, Dropbox has a slightly more intensive security process than SkyDrive. Dropbox has a 2-step verification feature when users log into their account via the website. SkyDrive sends a security code to users' secondary email address when accessing personal information. The major difference between Dropbox and SkyDrive in terms of security is mobile app security. Dropbox is the only app with a 4-digit passcode. While Dropbox has a more extensive process, it isn't flawless. CIO reports that roughly a year ago, Dropbox was hacked. Security is an essential feature when it comes to cloud storage services since sensitive files are stored online, making personal information more vulnerable to be captured.

SkyDrive vs. Dropbox Supported File Types & Upload Limits

SkyDrive supports Microsoft Office, audio, video and image files. Dropbox supports all of these in addition to Apple iWork files. In terms of file uploading limits, Dropbox also features superior support. SkyDrive gives users 2GB file uploads through desktop app and 300MB through website uploads. Dropbox also limits users to 300MB of file uploads via websites, although its desktop app gives unlimited file uploads, trumping file upload limits of SkyDrive.

SkyDrive vs. DropBox Features

Both cloud storage services offer unique features, but also include several common ones. Common features in both SkyDrive and Dropbox services include version history, which keeps files intact for 30 days before permanent deletion and events tracking. Aside from these overlapping features, both cloud storage services differ greatly in their offerings. Dropbox includes selective folder syncing, sharking link, and, most notable of all, Facebook Group Integration, which allows users to share files with Facebook Groups. Additionally, utilizing the Camera Upload feature gives users more free space, and for $39 a year, Pro Dropbox users can access an unlimited undo version history feature. SkyDrive has an edge with access to Microsoft Web Apps, which include Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote on the web browser. This differs from Dropbox in that SkyDrive users can directly edit through the storage service. OneNote mobile app on SkyDrive is another added feature unique to this cloud storage service, which lets users take notes that will automatically sync and upload to the cloud.

SkyDrive vs. Dropbox Speed & Success Rate

While pricing, features, security and the such are critical components to consider when comparing cloud storage services, it ultimately comes down to how long they truly take to transfer files. ReadWrite conducted a hands-on test on Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon and SkyDrive to see which cloud storage service was the fastest. The test involved exporting a 500K JPEG test image from Lightroom onto a Windows 8 computer directly to each service. After running the test several times, the results highly favored Dropbox over SkyDrive. For comparison purposes, I am only going to look at the Dropbox and SkyDrive results. The outcome shows that Dropbox is the fastest cloud storage service 56 percent of the time, compared to SkyDrive's 12 percent. Dropbox only came in as the slowest option 4 percent of the time, whereas SkyDrive was slowest 80 percent of the time. Lastly, in terms of finishing file transfers, Dropbox didn't have any unfinished transfers. SkyDrive had two faulty transfers on a Mac and one on a PC.

SkyDrive vs. Dropbox Bottom Line

It is impossible to name one of the cloud storage services as the superior choice, however, both SkyDrive and Dropbox exhibit unique features and capabilities that reign them a preferred option. While some performance tests prove SkyDrive to be a work-in-progress, they also showcase the cloud storage service as up-and-coming. Many users praise SkyDrive for its unique features and extremely cost-efficient pricing options for storage. Dropbox cloud storage, on the other hand, may be a less economical choice, but it also is a more established option. This particular cloud storage service proves a more stable and powerful file transferring service. So which cloud storage service is right for you? Mobile tech journalist James A. Martin of CIO said that he puts his most important documents in his Dropbox folder, and other large files that he doesn't use as often in his SkyDrive account. Not that using both services is the most logical decision, but it goes to show that both cloud storage services have unquestionable assets.

Which do you prefer, SkyDrive or Dropbox? 

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