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Skydrive vs Dropbox - which is faster

Which is faster to upload? Skydrive or Dropbox and why is there a difference?

A few readers have independently reported that Dropbox is faster to upload files compared to Skydrive. We agree, though there’s not a lot you can do about it. For most Office documents it doesn’t make a lot of difference but for larger files, Dropbox will get the job done much faster.

This is a comparison of uploads using the desktop programs – not standard uploads via the web interface.

With the desktop programs you can simply put a file into the Skydrive/Dropbox folder and it will be uploaded in the background. For small files, like most Office documents, any time difference is minimal, taking a minute or two at most. For larger files (100MB plus) you may have to wait an hour or more for it to show up on the cloud listing.

For most of us their upload speed will be much slower than downloading. Mostly the difference doesn’t matter because we download a lot more than we upload. But cloud storage changes that and slow upload speeds are more noticeable. If you want to test your real download/upload speeds, as compared to ISP promises, head over to

Both Skydrive and Dropbox don’t use all the available upload capacity. They work in the background and leave some bandwidth for you to use. The upload speed difference between the products seems to be caused by their different systems working in the background and trying not interfere with your other work.

Skydrive seems to be more conservative, allowing more ‘room’ for other programs to upload at the same time. That makes for slower uploads.

Skydrive has no controls over upload speed – you’re stuck with Microsoft’s choices. A typical Redmond ‘like it or lump it’ attitude.

Dropbox takes up more of the available upload bandwidth which means faster uploads. It doesn’t take up all the bandwidth and there’s still room for you to work alongside.

The Dropbox Windows program has some upload control under Preferences | Bandwidth.

  Dropbox - bandwidth controls image from Skydrive vs Dropbox - which is faster at

  • Don’t Limit
  • Limit Automatically (the default)
  • Limit to nn kB/s

It would be nice if Microsoft lifted their game with Skydrive and we’re not just talking about upload controls.

Dropbox is better and their ‘Limit Automatically’ is the best choice for normal use and specially on a laptop where the upload speed can vary depending on where you are.

Occasionally you need to upload more quickly and it would be nice if there was an option to force a faster upload on a selected files. Another choice could be a “Don’t Limit for one hour” option to temporarily speed upload without the need to manually restore automatic speed control later.

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