Why I switched from Google Drive to OneDrive on my Mac

Microsoft OneDrive and Google Backup and Sync apps for the Apple Mac compared.

There are many online storage services, including iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box and others. After using Google Drive for years, I'm switching to OneDrive - here's why.

If you only ever use Apple kit, iCloud Drive can be useful for storing files online, sharing them, and syncing them between computers. macOS will even store the Desktop and Documents folders online. The storage can be accessed on the iPhone and iPad too. However, if you use other computers and devices, non-Apple kit, it is not so useful because it doesn't work anywhere near as well on other platforms. Try working with iCloud Drive if you have an Android phone for example.

The 5GB of free space you get with iCloud is not even close to being adequate because iOS devices are backing up to it, apps are using it, photos are stored in it and so on. However, there is a very cheap subscription to boost this to 50GB. iCloud is useful and I have the 50 GB plan, but I don't use iCloud for much apart from backup and sync. In addition to this, I need online storage that works everywhere, so iCloud is not ideal.

Dropbox is excellent and it has a lot of features not available elsewhere. There is support for it across all computers, operating systems and mobile devices, but there are several issues I have with the service. One is that the free storage is very limited and you only get 2GB, but the cheapest paid plan is more than I want to pay. There doesn't seem to be anything between.

Box provides a useful 10GB of online storage for free and there are Mac, iOS and Android apps, and web access. If you need more space, it is quite expensive though. Again I can't find a plan that's just right for me.

Best cloud storage

The best online storage, at least for myself, is either Google Drive or OneDrive. Google provides a generous 15 GB of storage for free, and I've earned an extra 4 GB free for various things. It has a good online office suite that runs in a browser so I can work online.

Microsoft provides just 5GB free for new accounts, although having had a Microsoft account for so long, I have accumulated 40GB of free space thanks to special offers over the years.

A Microsoft Office subscription includes 1TB of online storage and it costs less than some services charge for the storage alone. It is a great deal. The cost is not the primary reason I switched though.

Google Drive vs OneDrive memory usage

I like Google Drive and Google's online office apps a lot and would be happy to continue if only the macOS and iOS apps were better. Google Backup and Sync is big and slow on my Mac. Take a look at the memory usage for example:

Google Drive memory usage in macOS on the Apple Mac

Google Backup and Sync is using 434 MB of memory. If you have 8 GB of RAM or better still, 16 GB, this is nothing. However, my MacBook Pro is quite old and only has 4 GB of memory, so I have to be careful with apps. I have to keep everything as lightweight as possible.

Backup and Sync also takes a long time to start up when I power up my ageing MacBook Pro first thing in a morning. This is mostly because it has a hard disk drive and any app that uses the disk a lot will run slowly. At one point Backup and Sync was taking 10 to 15 minutes to start up. The performance has improved a lot lately, perhaps because of app updates or macOS updates, but it still isn't quick.

Microsoft OneDrive on the other hand, is small, lightweight and fast. The memory usage varies a lot, and right now it is using 80 MB, but it can be anywhere between 40 and 100 MB. Even at its worst, it seems to be a quarter of the size of Google's app.

Microsoft OneDrive memory usage on the Apple Mac

It starts up fast when booting the Mac, although I don't yet know how it will perform when I get 10 GB of files or more on it. We'll see. For the moment, it is fast and working well.

The story is a similar one with iPhone apps and Google Drive can sometimes be very slow. When selecting a photo to upload, it pauses for several seconds before displaying images from the Photos app. OneDrive on the other hand takes a fraction of the time and is much faster.

OneDrive vs Google Drive

Has Google Drive become too bloated and slow? It is hard not to come to that conclusion looking at the Mac apps and iOS apps. For the time being, OneDrive seems to be the better online drive and there are lots of online apps to make use of the storage.

Microsoft web apps, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and several others, are good enough for my needs and since I always exported Google Docs in Office format as a backup, I can put them all in OneDrive.

A new MacBook would solve a lot of problems, but why ditch a perfectly good MacBook? It could be upgraded with more RAM and an SSD, but putting money into such an old Mac isn't worth it. I'll continue with it till it dies or at least stops running the latest macOS and apps, then I'll get a new one.



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