When taking Richard Hay's app tour of the new Dropbox app, I was particularly struck by his assessment of whether or not Dropbox was actually a good value for customers. Dropbox is ubiquitous in some circles, but does ubiquity mean quality or value? I decided to take a look at a few common cloud-based storage services and compare their free offerings, their lowest paid offerings, and their feature sets. This way, it would be easy to see which cloud-based storage system works best for different users and their budgets.

I also included the scenario Rich suggests in his app tour: If you pony up for an Office 365 subscription, not only do you get a terabyte of storage, you also get to use a suite of office tools. Since he brought office apps into the discussion, it made sense to see how Google's free storage offering stacked up, since that does have an accompanying office-apps suite.

Below are the comparisons among five different cloud-based storage services: Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Office 365 and Google Drive. I looked at ten basics that every service should cover, from file size to cost per gigabyte to ease of automation. 

 

Free account storage limits
Dropbox 2 GB
Box 10 GB
OneDrive 5 GB
Office 365 N/A
Google Drive 15 GB

 

Maximum file size
Dropbox The sum total of all files uploaded has to be smaller than your account's storage quota; otherwise, there's no limit on individual file size.
Box 250 MB file free account/ 5GB for paid account.
OneDrive 10 GB
Office 365 10 GB
Google Drive For documents, up to 50 GB if they're converted to Google Docs format; other file formats can be up to 5 TB (provided you have the space for 5 TB worth of documents).

 

Lowest paid plan for individual users
Dropbox $9.99/mo for 1 TB of storage.
Box $10/mo for 100 GB storage.
OneDrive $1.99/mo for 50 GB of storage.
Office 365 $8.33/mo for 1 TB storage.
Google Drive $1.99/mo for 100 GB.

 

How much one gigabyte costs per month
Dropbox 1 penny per gigabyte
Box 10 cents per gigabyte
OneDrive 4 cents per gigabye
Office 365 < 1 penny per gigabyte (0.83 cents, in fact)
Google Drive 2 cents per gigabyte

 

Can you save things to the service from your desktop?
Dropbox Yes.
Box There's a lot of add-on apps to help with that.
OneDrive Yes.
Office 365 Yes.
Google Drive Yes -- you can drop-and-drag things right to your Google Drive.

 

Does it have a desktop app?
Dropbox Yes, for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.
Box Yes, for Windows and Mac OS X.
OneDrive Yes, for Windows and Mac OS X.
Office 365 Yes -- we're talking storage integration with OneDrive.
Google Drive Yes, for Windows and Mac OS X.

 

Does it have a mobile app?
Dropbox Yes.
Box Yes.
OneDrive Yes.
Office 365 Yes -- we're talking storage integration with OneDrive.
Google Drive Yes.

 

What are the platforms for the mobile app?
Dropbox iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows tablet.
Box iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.
OneDrive iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows tablet.
Office 365 iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows tablet.
Google Drive iOs and Android.

 

Does it have a web-based interface too?
Dropbox Yes.
Box Yes.
OneDrive Yes.
Office 365 Yes.
Google Drive Yes.

 

Can you automate file backups via Zapier and IFTTT?
Dropbox Yes.
Box Yes.
OneDrive Yes.
Office 365 Yes.
Google Drive Yes.

 

Is it integrated with Microsoft products?
Dropbox Yes -- the service is integrated with Office so you can open Office files in your Dropbox account, edit those files in your Office apps, and save them back to your Dropbox account.
Box Yes -- you can use the Box for Office app on your PC to save your Office files to a Box account.
OneDrive Yes, on account of it being a Microsoft product.
Office 365 Yes, on account of it being a Microsoft product.
Google Drive As it turns out, yes.