I believe that the question isn’t which to use, but what files should go where.
In online business communities, the debate has raged for years. Which cloud storage is better for documents and digital files?
I used to be quite firmly planted in Camp Google Drive. Its flexibility for collaboration is virtually unmatched, in my opinion. And these days, almost everyone is familiar with its Docs and Spreadsheets.
But in the past year, I became a convert to the middle ground—I use both, and I couldn’t be happier.
“But Dani,” I hear you saying, “you’re always telling us to simplify and making a case for fewer apps!”
I know, I know. But hear me out.
Google Drive and Dropbox serve two different functions if you organize them correctly.
As I mentioned earlier, Google Drive shines when we look at collaborative processes. It works across all platforms, and unlike ten years ago, not everyone has Microsoft Word.
Being able to live-edit documents together, track changes, and always know that this document is the most up to date—well, those things are pretty amazing.
A bonus is that each user can store the shared document in their folder system, meaning that how I organize my Drive doesn’t have to match how you organize yours. I’m all for effective collaboration without forced organization!
On the other hand, sometimes shared organization is essential. But that’s usually once a document is no longer “in progress” and has moved on to an archiving stage.
Dropbox is fantastic for long-term storage and being able to share files without wondering where a file was moved to or having to navigate complicated share settings.
Another brief note on this: I strongly feel that Dropbox is the safer storage space for media items like photos, videos, and audio files. While there’s no official documentation of this, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that Drive compresses some of these files. If your business is heavily reliant on these file types, it’s not worth the risk.
Tips for Success
If you’re going to use both platforms as I do, here are a couple of tips to make the experience run seamlessly:
Use the same folder structure and naming conventions on both platforms.
If you look inside mine, the folders are identical for the most part. The top-level is precisely the same, and as you go deeper, the only thing you’ll notice is that there are more folders in Dropbox. I also use a standard naming convention so that my search habits work across all file storage platforms (hard drive, Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox).
Know what goes where.
And keep it simple. In my case, in progress files go in Drive (docs, spreadsheets, presentations) or stay on my hard drive (Illustrator, InDesign, etc.). Once completed, they are saved appropriately and filed in Dropbox. It’s obvious what types of files go where and at what point they make the transition.
Connect both platforms to your computer.
I’m a Mac user, but I know this is also doable on a PC. Having both platforms accessible from Finder on my laptop means that a quick search will bring up the file no matter where it’s stored. It also makes it easier to move files around between them. I also have the apps for each downloaded to my phone and tablet, as well as using iCloud sync for my hard drive folders, enabling me to access files on the go when needed (an essential part of nomad life).
Different platforms serve different purposes, and as always, what works best for me may not work best for you. When I work with clients on streamlining their processes, inevitably, file storage is a hiccup we need to smooth out. The method I describe here works to do that in nearly all cases, whether it’s a solopreneurship or a growing small business.
If you’re interested in going deeper on this topic and learning how to easily maintain your digital files, join my live training, the Organized File Management Blueprint, on August 5th at 6 pm Central. Click here for more information.