OneDrive vs iCloud Drive: Which is best?

Person writing on computer
(Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters / Unsplash)

Companies that previously relied on in-house data servers are quickly turning to cloud-based alternatives, bringing with it many benefits including a reduction in capital outlay, maintenance costs, and space.

Whether these businesses are looking for the best cloud document storage, the best photo cloud storage, the best cloud backup, or simply the best cloud storage overall, it's highly likely that they've taken a close look at the huge variety of providers out there.

During their research, it's likely they've considered both OneDrive and iCloud Drive. They may even have read our Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage review or Apple iCloud Drive review to find out more about the respective solutions. 

There are few cloud storage drives more ingrained in any operating system than Microsoft OneDrive and iCloud Drive, which both form part of a much wider ecosystem that extends beyond software, blurring the boundaries with hardware. This head-to-head sets them apart in terms of features, performance, and maybe most importantly, value for money.

If companies remain unsure when assessing OneDrive vs iCloud Drive, then the below guide should help, comparing the two solutions by their feature list, support, pricing, and performance.

OneDrive vs iCloud Drive: Features

Both options have a particularly strong foothold in the cloud storage market thanks mostly to their associations - OneDrive belongs to Microsoft, which is responsible for Windows OS, while iCloud Drive is an Apple product that correlates with macOS.

Microsoft OneDrive integrates with the company’s own suite of apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, with several features built-in like auto-save and version history which make using Microsoft’s own products a clear choice. Users can store a whole range of file types, though, including images, videos, PDFs, and even Apple-only file types, such as Pages, Numbers, and Keynote files. 

This is just as true for Apple’s iCloud Drive, too, which can save most file types including Microsoft Office documents. What sets Apple apart, however, is the ability for its own apps to open Office file types, bringing a whole additional layer of compatibility to macOS, iOS, and iPadOS machines. Microsoft Office apps, on the other hand, cannot open Apple file types.

While both have browser access - and online versions of their own word processing apps - the slickest experience comes from downloading the desktop clients, which integrate handily into the native filing system. 

Users who work from a Mac will already have iCloud set up, as will Windows users with OneDrive - it’s just the simple matter of logging in and the syncing is taken care of.

Windows users seeking to use iCloud Drive should download the client, which is downloaded from the Microsoft Store. iCloud Drive documents and iCloud Photos both sit in the sidebar of the File Explorer, while Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Reminders need to be set up with some more involved configuration. We really value that iCloud’s Keychain can integrate with your browser on Windows - we downloaded an additional extension for Edge to bring all our passwords over with minimal hassle (that being said, we still recommend using the best password manager if you're serious about your credential security and want more useful features).

OneDrive for Mac works in a similar way: an app is downloaded from the App Store, and when configured, files are visible in the Finder window. Both have mobile apps for Android and iOS, too.

It’s worth noting that there are several tiers to OneDrive, which include business versions that can be managed centrally. iCloud Drive only has one iteration.

OneDrive vs iCloud Drive: Performance

Both performed well in terms of uploading files in our testing, completing a 1GB test file upload in a little over five minutes. It doesn’t really get any better than this. iCloud Drive downloaded the same file in around three minutes, while OneDrive took seven minutes. With our broadband speed, we would have liked to see a 1GB download in around one minute, however, it’s worth mentioning that most of the time, the desktop clients are left to run and sync in the background, and as such files will generally be available quite quickly.

OneDrive vs iCloud Drive: Support

While there are plenty of self-help articles online for Microsoft’s OneDrive, getting any further help proved to be a little more challenging. Yes, there are email and phone support channels, but finding these buried deep in several menus is a bit disappointing.

Apple provides a library of self-help articles too, but getting real-time support is a whole lot easier. Finding phone and chat support is easy, and there’s even a mobile app with access to all the articles and real-time support, though this is only available on iOS. Any Apple devices linked to your iCloud account appear here, too, so you can get support for these fairly easily.

OneDrive vs iCloud Drive: Pricing

Both companies go head-to-head in offering similar propositions, so it’s no surprise that pricing is not too dissimilar. Both offer 5GB of free cloud storage, for instance. 

OneDrive paid plans start at $1.99 (£1.99) per month for 100GB of storage online, heading up to $6.99 (£5.99) per month for 1TB and access to the suite of Office apps. iCloud+ plans come with 50GB for $0.99 (£0.79) per month, 200GB for $2.99 (£2.49) per month, or 2TB for $9.99 (£6.99) per month. These paid iCloud+ plans also add iCloud Private Relay, which is designed to obscure your IP address, a tool to create unique, random email addresses called Hide My Email, support for custom email domains, and storage for one, five, or unlimited HomeKit Secure Video cameras if you use Apple’s Home app.

Every iCloud+ plan can be shared among six family members, however, Microsoft charges more for its 1TB Family plan: $9.99 (£7.99) per month.

As mentioned above, there are several business-oriented tiers for OneDrive: three 1TB plans and one with unlimited storage, costing between $5 (£3.80) and $12.50 (£9.40) per user per month.

There are no iCloud business plans, but there are bundles designed to save you money if you use Apple’s other subscription services. Called Apple One, the Individual plan ($14.95/£14.95 per month) comes with 50GB of storage and subscriptions to Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade. Family plans ($19.95/£19.95 per month) up the storage to 200GB, while Premier plans ($29.95/£29.95 per month) max out at 2TB, and add subscriptions to Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+. Both of these can be shared among six users.

OneDrive vs iCloud Drive: Our Verdict

Overall, pricing for iCloud Drive works out a little cheaper, and when bundled with other subscriptions, it makes a lot of sense. That said, OneDrive does offer Business plans with benefits like central admin management. All Apple devices get access to the company’s word processing apps for free, while certain lower-tier OneDrive subscriptions forgo this luxury.

While iCloud Drive does come out on top, most Microsoft users will find themselves using OneDrive for the sheer convenience and the fact that it integrates a lot better, but if you’re willing to let go of some convenience, we think iCloud Drive is the one to go for. Just remember, if you need access to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, you’ll need a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!

With contributions from