When it comes to cloud storage, there are a lot of options to pick from. One of the most well-known and popular is Google Drive, and that’s because it’s included for free whenever you sign up for a Gmail account. But over the past couple of years, some enticing new contenders have entered the ring.

One of the most promising is Proton Drive, a privacy-first cloud storage option that uses complete end-to-end encryption while putting full control of who can access your data directly in your hands. It’s a nice change of pace, but can it really stand up to the titan that is Google’s cloud storage service, and is it a good alternative if you’re trying to quit Google for good? Here’s how the two compare.

Credit: Proton AG

Storage space and pricing

One of the most enticing things about Google Drive is the free 15GB of storage space it gives you just for signing up. That’s a good chunk of space for backing up photos, emails, and other things—though keep in mind that attachments and other data tied to your email account do count toward your storage.

Proton Drive also offers a completely free option, though it tops off at 5GB, a notable difference from what Google offers. It’s easy to write Proton off because of that missing 10GB, but the competitor does have strengths elsewhere.

Both services also offer more “premium” storage options via monthly subscriptions. Google’s cheapest monthly plan, which is called Google One, is $1.99 a month and gets you 100GB of data, while Proton Drive’s cheapest option is $4.99 a month for 200GB. That’s another pretty big difference between what you’re paying and what you’re getting, so Google does still pull ahead on pure economy.

There are, of course, more expensive options. Google offers plans up to 20TB for $99 a month, while Proton tops out at 3TB for $29.99 a month. If you want more than that, you’ll need to look into the business plans for each service.

With storage and pricing in mind, Google does tend to offer a bit more bang for your buck. But note that Proton’s 3TB plan is technically the family version of Proton Unlimited, which means you can invite multiple people to take advantage of that data, plus you’ll get the rest of Proton’s services thrown in.

Sharing and features

Cloud storage is great for keeping track of all your personal documents, photos, videos, and so on. But it’s also a great way to share those items with your friends and family. Both Proton Drive and Google Drive make it easy to share those items with the people who matter.

In Google Drive, sharing options let you share either to individual Google accounts or to a list of accounts. You can also select whether people can edit or just view the shared content, and even share through a URL.

Proton also offers these same features, but layers on various extras. For instance, the service allows users to create “timed sharing links” that expire after a set amount of time, allowing you to give people temporary file access. You can even set up password-protected files, something Google Drive still does not do.

Both Google Drive and Proton Drive offer the option to audit your files to see who has downloaded them. This can help you keep track of where your files are going and who has been given access—helpful you’ve shared a publicly accessible link. Both services also offer apps on all the major operating systems, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. That means you can easily keep up with your files no matter what system you’re using.

Overall, both services offer similar functionality for sharing files with others, and they both support the same types of files as well. The addition of timed sharing links does make Proton Drive a bit more appealing for those who want granular sharing control, but both services allow you to lock content at any time, restricting anyone from accessing it even if it was shared with them previously.

Credit: Proton AG


This is the real difference between Google Drive and Proton Drive. Ultimately, it’s hard to beat Google Drive because of just how convenient it is. It’s tied to your Google account, you get 15GB for free, and most of the Google One plans are fairly affordable.

Proton Drive, on the other hand, is a bit more expensive and a bit stingier with the amount of storage space you get. However, Proton Drive takes your privacy a lot more seriously than Google does.

That isn’t to say that Google Drive isn’t secure. Google says that it uses end-to-end encryption to protect your files whenever they are in transit and at rest. However, it stores the keys needed to decrypt those files within its own servers, giving it access to your data should the tech giant ever need it.

Proton Drive, on the other hand, does not keep any access to your data. It is completely encrypted, giving only you and the people that you select access to the data. This provides a higher level of security and means that you can rest easy, knowing that nobody is going to be able to get access to your data through illegitimate means. Proton is also based out of Switzerland, which has some of the best security laws in the world at time of writing.

At the end of the day, Google Drive is perfectly fine for casually storing your documents, photos, and videos. But it doesn’t offer nearly the same level of privacy that Proton Drive does. Its extra premium is the price you pay for the peace of mind that comes with using Proton’s services. So, if you’re choosing between the two, it ultimately comes down to what you find more important—privacy or cost.

The answer, for me, is pretty clear. Privacy is king in this day and age, and Proton makes it easier to protect my personal information without having to jump through a lot of extra hoops. But for you, the answer might not be so easy to decide on, especially since some of Proton’s features are still rolling out to its various apps. At any rate, because both services have free options, there’s nothing stopping you from making use of one for some file and the other for the rest.