Confessions of a Dropbox User -- On Google Drive

I crossed the line. After two and a half years of loyalty to Dropbox, I moved over to Google Drive. After using both, for now, I’m heading back over to Dropbox.

Simply, Google Drive is your own little “My Documents” folder in the cloud.

folder image via shutterstock

This means that you have a Google Drive folder on your computer where you put documents that you may want to share with others or access from other locations. You can access your Google Drive folder from anywhere with a Web connection.

Here’s where Google Drive falls short for me:

1. No iPhone/iPad app yet (Google says it’s coming soon): Upon saving documents to the cloud, it’s nice to have access to them from my iPhone or iPad. For example, I can prepare a purchase and sale agreement on my laptop, drop it into my Dropbox, then access the document from my Dropbox app on my iPad and upload the document into SignMyPad. Cool, right? Talk about differentiating yourself to buyers and sellers!

This process is not so easy using Google Drive. If you have an iOS 3.0 or higher, you can access, view and edit Google Docs on Apple devices. To me, this is like cooking a microwave pizza in the oven. It’s extra work and it takes too long.

2. Price: Dropbox’s free accounts have up to 18 GB of free space (2 GB plus 500 MB per referral). If you ever run out of space, you can upgrade your account with a monthly or yearly subscription to a Dropbox Pro 50 GB or Dropbox Pro 100 GB account.

dollar sign image via shutterstock

Dropbox starts you with 2 GB as opposed to the 5 GB that Google Drive offers. If you are looking for massive data storage capabilities, Google Drive may be the better option since you can buy 100GB for $4.99/per month, which is only half of what Dropbox charges for the same type of storage.

Right now I have 18 GB of free space on Dropbox from referring customers. What’s really cool about the Dropbox referral program is that you don’t have to actually “refer” a new client. Usually the way it works is that you share a Dropbox folder with someone to give that person access to a document; then that person thinks the program is wicked cool and signs up for a free account, while you collect more free data storage.

3. Creating and editing documents: One cool feature on Google Drive is that you can create and edit documents. To do this, however, the document must be converted to a Google Doc format; you can’t keep the original Word, PowerPoint or Excel format. It’s not the end of the world (that the document must be converted to Google and then reconverted back to use for whatever purpose you had originally designed the document) but it obscures the initial excitement of having the ability to change the document right in Google Drive.

From my point of view, it’s just as easy to open the Word, PowerPoint or Excel file from Dropbox, make the change, and resave it.

One thing I do like about Google Drive, however, is that you get notified when someone makes a change to a document. For example, you could upload a listing sheet to Google Drive, share it with your seller, and you would receive notification if the seller made a change to it. With Dropbox, you wouldn’t know it if the document was altered and resaved to the file unless someone told you.

The other neat little bonus with Google Drive is that you can do a search and it will scan all the items in Google Drive to help you find what you are looking for. For example, say you wrote a great contract addendum to include a swing set in the sale of a property and now you need that addendum for another property, you can search the words “swing set” and — voila! — Google Drive will locate your document. This is probably one of my favorite offerings on Google Drive, but not enough to cause me to make a permanent switch yet.

4. The attorney in me: Yes, I’m a broker, and although I don’t always like to admit it, I’m an attorney too. Therefore, sometimes little things in contract language just rub me the wrong way. When you sign up to use Google services such as Google Drive, you agree to their terms such as: “Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours. When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.”

One thing I know for sure with Dropbox is that no license is granted for them to use my stuff.

Dropbox and Google Drive are not the only game in town. Both Microsoft SkyDrive and Apple Cloud are worthy opponents, too. I am not completely opposed to switching clouds, but right now Dropbox is the better option for me. I’ll revisit again once the Google Drive iOS server is launched … so I can cook my microwave pizza where it belongs — in the microwave!

 microwave image via shutterstock

For more on doc sharing and storing check out yesterday’s article on Open Text Tempo.