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OneDrive vs Dropbox: Putting the Cloud Storage Services to the Test
cloud storage

OneDrive vs Dropbox: Putting the Cloud Storage Services to the Test

Cloud Storage

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To understand the fundamental question of OneDrive vs Dropbox, we have to understand the cloud. Cloud computing is a trend that is not going away anytime soon. The cloud is an internet storage area that takes the place of your computer’s hard drive. Cloud computing involves storing your data on the internet. Hard drive storage is called local storage. It is a physical storage system at your fingertips. While some consider local storage a relic nearing its end, others still prefer local storage.

Another storage option is network storage. Network storage files data on a network-wide server and enables access to the same data from an entire network of clients. While network storage is broader than local storage, it is not cloud storage.

Cloud storage is accessed over the internet and can be accessed anytime from any internet-ready location. Microsoft OneDrive is a common cloud product, along with others such as Google Drive. Google Drive is cloud computing because it is entirely Web-based. Other examples include Apple iCloud, Amazon Cloud, and of course Dropbox.

Considering OneDrive vs Dropbox, Dropbox varies slightly from OneDrive because it is Web-based but it also stores a synchronized version of your data on local storage files. Therefore, it is a hybrid of two solutions.

Finding the Space

Cloud Storage

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Regardless of your position on OneDrive vs Dropbox, there is always a need for more storage space. Hard drives have limitations as do thumb drives. Thumb drives become corrupted or otherwise stop functioning properly. People storing data with economy-priced computers often delete files to create more space.

An exciting alternative for storage is cloud storage. Rather than storing your information on a hard drive or a location in your physical proximity, cloud storage is saved to a remote database connected by the internet. With cloud storage, you never have to tote thumb drives or CDs because your data can be retrieved from any location.

Users who subscribe to a cloud storage service send copies of their files to a data server over the internet. A web-based interface allows the user to retrieve the data he or she has sent.

Cloud Concerns

CloudStorage

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When many people begin to understand the concept of cloud computing, they immediately wonder if such storage is reliable. No matter your view of OneDrive vs Dropbox, no user wants to give their data to a third party if they fear it will be lost or damaged. There is also a serious concern regarding data being compromised or stolen. Theoretically, any disgruntled employee could access the data and find compromising personal information.

To quell these concerns, cloud services encrypt information by means of a complicated algorithm. This way information is encoded and cannot be decoded without an encryption key. Users also have to authenticate their identity through usernames and passwords.

Users can also dictate levels of access among employees and other users. Some individuals need only basic levels of access while others have greater authorization. An overly simple, though not impossible concern is that a bad actor may actually steal a large piece of hardware. Users must be sure their data companies are thorough and always evolving on the safety front.

If files are truly safe, reliability takes center stage. It is good when data remains out of the hands of folks with bad intentions, but the data is useless if it is not accessible to the user. Most data companies use redundancy systems to ensure reliability.

Redundancy

Cloud Storage error

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A system failure or long down times can be crippling to companies or individuals who need access to their data. To combat this risk, data companies utilize redundancy by duplicating copies of users’ files on multiple systems. Properly executed redundancy allows your data to be accessible on one system when another system is down.

Even if an unexpected issue does not occur, systems still require scheduled maintenance and other downtime. Having data stored on multiple systems alleviates issues related to downtime. The best cloud companies use redundancy for power sources, internet access and other essentials as well as storage.

Cloud Shortcomings

Cloud Storage

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A well-executed cloud storage system can ease your mind to the point where you are no longer vigilant. In truth, your files in the cloud cease to exist when the cloud company ceases to exist. In the meantime, data formats continue to evolve as your old data sits in the cloud. Software is often abandoned when new options emerge.

There is already a lot of obsolete software that used to play your family movies or a favorite song list. How will you be sure your outdated files have continuous access and usability once accessed?

Companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Pinterest have gone down despite redundancy efforts. Sometimes servers are being used more rigorously than usual, and the strain can affect their ability to fill in for other servers. Natural disasters and lightning have been known to destroy data.

Unrelated backups on two different hard drives or networks can be the safest way to back up data, but that means all copies have to be updated simultaneously when changes are made to the master copy. This defeats some important purposes of the cloud.

Password Problems

It can be frustrating when platforms want you to choose passwords with capital letters, lower-case letters, numbers, special characters, and a DNA test. However, weak passwords commonly jeopardize security and make accounts susceptible to hackers. Many individuals use simple words, birthdays, or patterns.

Even if a password has no meaningful connection to the user, hackers can use programs to attempt every word in the dictionary quickly until it finds the one you chose. Some extra characters can improve your security tenfold. Try to use at least 12 characters with a variety of keyboard keys.

It is also very beneficial to use different passwords for different accounts. While it can be frustrating to memorize and keep track of multiple 12-character passwords, your security will be much stronger.

Sync-Holes

Cloud storage syncing is a perk that provides consistent backup, right? Well, yes and no. Syncing is basically beneficial, but the process gives hackers an opportunity to access your stored files.

A security token enables your computer to communicate with the cloud regardless of any password requirements. When hackers acquire the token, they can use it to access your private information. They can even encrypt it so that only they can use it.

Even if your own data is encrypted, hackers can still sabotage your files or inject malware. Public WiFi is a common arena for hacking security tokens. It is wise to clear your cache often. A more aggressive defense is to use a third-party security vendor such as Bitglass to serve as an additional barrier between you and your cloud data.

No-Fault Breaches

You can never be sure what a cloud provider is doing to protect your data. Few customers carefully read the contract and the fine print about use of your personal data. Apart from the contract, you have no way to know a company has acted in a sloppy or unprofessional manner.

To be sure you are not held responsible for data breaches, use a provider that is willing to share their auditing records. If they have not had outside experts audit their safety procedures or are unwilling to share the results, move on.

Encryption, Encryption, Encryption

Encryption is not full proof, but it is a meaningful deterrent to hackers. Your personal information can be attained by those without the rights to access it, but the encryption can keep them from being able to read it or use it.

You need to know whether your storage provider encrypts data only when it is being transferred from your computer to the cloud or if they encrypt the data at all times. Any time the data is not encrypted, it is vulnerable. Documents, spreadsheets, and other information should always be encrypted.

Sloppiness

Sometimes, organizations just get sloppy. Employees with important tasks misplace data. Your personal data could end up in a private account. It could be marked as accessible to company-wide employees instead of managerial decision makers.

You should take the time to learn your company’s policies and procedures related to data loss prevention, employee access, and error reporting. Aside from these issues, there is always unintended human error. An employee only needs to have one bad day and your personal information may be in the hands of bad characters.

Does your company have the technology to scan emails for erroneous content that could expose personal information? Would it detect a social security number in an email?

When your data is not located in your own machine, firewalls are useless and former security measures no longer fit the bill. Cloud computing has changed safety forever.

What Is OneDrive?

In the debate over OneDrive vs Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud storage platform tailored to individuals with a Microsoft account. OneDrive actually offers free storage space for individuals utilizing Microsoft.

For users who store files on their hard drives, OneDrive can routinely sync the folders to ensure backups are available in the cloud. Some Microsoft users have the benefits of OneDrive on their computers and do not even realize it. OneDrive has the ability to sync across multiple platforms while integrating with Windows and other Microsoft apps.

OneDrive is available as a web interface or an app in Windows 10. With either option you can store, retrieve, and share your data.

What Is Dropbox?

Dropbox is another cloud storage service that syncs data as a backup. It is used on Macs, PCs, and many portable tech devices. It offers application program interface (API) protocols for software developers.

Dropbox can be downloaded for free with a paid version available. A free Dropbox account allows 2GB of storage while the paid version offers a terabyte. The paid version allows backups of photos taken on your smart phone. Dropbox allows you to move and access important files among devices you commonly use.

OneDrive vs Dropbox

Looking at OneDrive vs Dropbox, both are popular cloud storage systems used by individuals and businesses alike. Dropbox is a storage platform that syncs files and allows sharing opportunities for collaboration on files. It integrates with a variety of computers as well as smartphones and other tech devices.

Microsoft OneDrive is cloud storage for Windows and Office applications. With OneDrive users can share and edit files simultaneously.

So, what cloud service prevails in the matchup of OneDrive vs Dropbox?

Security and Reliability

In the beginning we mentioned security and reliability as foundational concerns to many cloud users. In this area, OneDrive falls behind its rival. Dropbox uses a 128-bit AES encryption. On the other hand, once files have been uploaded to Microsoft servers, no more file encryption is available for individual users (though business subscriptions do have encryption options).

Conversely, Dropbox removes file encryption after the file is retrieved leaving it in a simple text file. This is also a security concern, so in the OneDrive vs Dropbox debate, Dropbox gets the nod for security and reliability.

Price Tag

Microsoft OneDrive is a better option based on price. With a free Dropbox account you get two GB of storage, but a free OneDrive account results in 5 GB.

Dropbox’s one advantage in the price war is its 500 MB of free storage for referrals.

Collaboration

One great cloud computing perk is the ability to share and collaborate on files. File sharing and controlled access levels are common to both Dropbox and OneDrive. With a free Dropbox account you can use file sharing buttons to invite collaborators by email. Paid versions of Dropbox can add more options to manipulate collaborator access.

OneDrive again prevails when considering OneDrive vs Dropbox because many of the perks only available with Dropbox’s paid plans are available with free OneDrive accounts.

Synchronization

File syncing is a way to keep files stored on physical hard drives up to date and available for backup and mobile access. In this area, Dropbox and OneDrive each offer an upload folder that is automatically synced. Dropbox claims a slight edge over OneDrive by using less bandwidth while syncing.

Conclusion

As mentioned before in our discussion of OneDrive vs Dropbox, Microsoft’s OneDrive falls short in file encryption–non-encrypted data is a serious safety concern that shouldn’t be overlooked. In contrast, Dropbox offers the two most popular encryption methods (AES-128 and AES-256) for your files. OneDrive’s inability to integrate with non-Microsoft apps also makes the service less functional.

Security and reliability are foremost concerns surrounding cloud computing in the question of OneDrive vs Dropbox. While neither product is perfect in this area, Dropbox does surpass OneDrive in security in our opinion. When added to Dropbox’s bandwidth savings, we give it a slight edge over OneDrive.

The platform is easy to learn and allows even non-techy individuals to become familiar with its services, whether on the web or through the app. The latest version of every file is readily available whether it was updated on your tablet, your phone, or your desktop.

File sharing is easy to accomplish, whether with particular individuals or larger public groups. As a backup, your lost hard drive files are still at your fingertips. And while it only begins with 2 GB of storage, you can begin using Dropbox for free.


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