Who is the winner: Google Drive, Dropbox or Penn+Box?

cloud storageThe heated debate about online storage services has never stopped.  The candidates include Google Drive, Dropbox, Skydrive by Microsoft, iCloud by Apple, Sugar Sync, Box and so on. In this blog post, I will compare Google Drive, Dropbox and Penn + Box, with five perspectives: storage, maximum size for single file/document, collaboration, use on mobile phones, and desktop client app. For details, please see the chart below. The first two have been frequently and widely used, regardless of the type of systems running on your laptop or smartphone, while the third one, a new candidate joined in this competition, was launched late last year, open especially to you – Penn students, staff and faculty.  To learn more about Penn+Box, please read Kate’s tutorial.

Google Drive Dropbox Penn+Box


  • 2GB
  • Get more space by referring Dropbox to other people (500MB for one person, up to 16 GB)


Google Drive Dropbox Penn+Box
Maximum Size for Single File/Document
  • Varies with the type of document

For details, check here

  • None for mobile/desktop Apps uploading
  • 300 MB for website uploading

5 GB

Google Drive Dropbox Penn+Box
  • See multiple users’ edits on Google Docs synchronously.
  • Once being invited, users are able to view/edit the Google Docs online.
Edit offline using Microsoft Office and then upload revised documents/files.
  • Comment function
  • Assign Task function

Sharing the link allow users to view and edit the document/file.

Sharing the link only does not give users’ right to edit. Inviting others as collaborators is required.
Google Drive Dropbox Penn+Box
Use on Mobile Phones

For viewing, no App is required.

For editing Google Doc, no extra App is required.

For editing documents created by Microsoft, Cloudon or other similar Apps are required.

For editing, Cloudon or other similar Apps are required.
Google Drive Dropbox Penn+Box
Desktop Client App Unavailable


Special features of Penn+Box include the ability for participants to comment on the document and for the owner to assign different tasks (review, approve or update) with the document to participants. Such features can be extremely important to collaborative work.  For a group project, once a member finishes writing his part of an essay, he or she can send requests for approval to the group leader (the document owner) via Penn+Box.  The owner will be notified by e-mail to review and approve, or leave comments for further editing. For student-teacher/teacher assistant interaction, the student can send a review request for suggestions on their assignment before finally submitting it.

As for the use on mobile, I found it takes much more time to open and edit a Google Doc than a file in Dropbox on my Android mobile phone, though this might not be the case on iPhones. Penn+Box works in a similar way as Dropbox on mobile devices; for more information, please refer to David’s post.

Seeing from the discussion above, we may think, actually, no one is the winner on every aspect. The impact of a certain feature varies with the individual needs and different circumstances. For example, the huge storage space might not be an appealing reason for people who do not often upload large files, like photos or videos.  Regarding the synchronicity of seeing others’ edits, it might be important for people who are collaboratively writing one paragraph, but not that important for people working on different paragraphs. So just play with them in different situations, at many times, and if you meet up with any problems, please feel free to drop by WIC – we are always here to assist your exploration of new technology.

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