iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users?

  • Technology
  • iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users?

Cloud file storage has become a necessity for almost every business user. Two heavyweights lead the fight, but one boasts an edge in convenience when using Apple hardware.

Image: Shutterstock/Gonzalo Aragon

Smart professionals know—maybe many learned the hard way—never to keep data in a single location. Although the temptation exists—insidiously alluring with its seduction of ease—to simply store files, especially work in progress, on a Mac desktop or in a local documents folder, phones are lost, iPads are stolen and Mac drives can fail. With such events, all locally stored information is lost and, at worst (if you’re not taking advantage of file encryption and device security features), available to unauthorized users.

Apple iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive provide elegant, cost-effective solutions to the problem and help prevent lost data. The question is no longer whether you should be using a cloud file storage solution, but which one.

Mac, iPad and iPhone users will find iCloud well suited to business use. With two-factor authentication support and simple integration (Figure A) present by default directly within macOS, iPadOS and iOS, iCloud is easy to use. The service is budget-friendly, too. Entry-level 5GB accounts are free. The service’s ninety-nine-cent-per-month option provides 50GB of storage. The 200GB version costs just $2.99 a month, while the 2TB edition is just $9.99 monthly.

Figure A


iCloud integrates seamlessly within Finder and with an interface, controls and appearance with which Mac, iPad and iPhone users are already familiar.

But, as television commercials often tout, that’s not all.

Apple’s iCloud accounts now include private relays, the ability to hide your email address from marketers and an option to create custom corresponding domains, as well as HomeKit Secure Video storage for one camera, up to five cameras for 200GB customers and an unlimited number of cameras for 2TB clients. iCloud accounts and corresponding storage can also be shared with up to five family members.

SEE: The iPhone, iPad and Mac users guide to Microsoft 365 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Microsoft OneDrive pricing is similarly competitive. Personal accounts are $6.99 monthly and include 1TB of storage, Skype service and Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps, whereas family accounts boost the storage limit to 6TB and can be shared with up to six people for $9.99 a month. Business Plan 1, providing 1TB of storage per user, is $5 per month per user. Business Plan 2 subscriptions, meanwhile, provide unlimited storage for $10 per user per month. A variety of other OneDrive plans are available, too, including Business Basic and Business Standard plans, which include a variety of apps and features.

Many Apple applications, however, including programs such as Byword, GoodNotes, Pixelmator, Post-it and Scrivener, integrate seamlessly by default with iCloud. Further, iCloud provides the ability to automatically back up Mac desktop and documents folders, iPad and iPhone settings and configurations, photos, email, contacts and a host of other elements simply by sliding a radio button (Figure B) to the enabled position. iCloud operation is that easy.

Figure B


iCloud’s deep integration within macOS, iPadOS and iOS make configuration and associating applications with the cloud storage service about as easy as it can be.

Not so Microsoft OneDrive. While it’s a compelling cloud file storage option whose use may be justified over iCloud in businesses committed to Microsoft 365 services adoption, especially the use of Microsoft BI, Planner, SharePoint and Teams, I’ve occasionally encountered synchronization issues. Such errors have largely improved over time, but iCloud sync issues, which certainly occur, too, occasionally, have proven much easier to resolve. Whereas iCloud sync repairs typically only require, in my experience, disabling iCloud and reenabling the service, I’ve found myself down deeper rabbit holes troubleshooting Windows and firewall settings, changing Windows and Microsoft 365 passwords and troubleshooting MFA integration when resolving a OneDrive problem.

SEE: Apple: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

Due to Apple’s obvious advantage as the developer of macOS, iPadOS and iOS, I find iCloud easier to configure on Apple hardware and easier to administer, support and use, compared to OneDrive. However, when working in Microsoft 365 organizations, I recommend loading OneDrive on Macs, iPads (Figure C) and iPhones using your Microsoft 365 account. Further, I also recommend setting OneDrive to load automatically at login and display the icon within the Mac Dock. Such settings help ensure OneDrive is continually syncing and easily available.

Figure C


OneDrive can be loaded easily within macOS, iPadOS, as shown here, and iOS.

But, when given a choice, and when using third-party apps, I take advantage of iCloud integration whenever possible. Life just seems easier that way.

iCloud vs. OneDrive: Which is best for Mac, iPad and iPhone users?

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