Google Drive vs. OneDrive

Is Google Drive better than OneDrive? In this usability evaluation, we compared the two systems to find out how they rank on efficiency, effectiveness and user satisfaction. Our results show that Google Drive is faster and causes fewer errors. But people actually like OneDrive more for editing documents.

My role

  • Planned the test design.
  • Wrote the test script and user tasks.
  • Acted as an observer and note-taker in the test sessions.
  • Analyzed the data.
  • Wrote and presented the final report with key results.

Team: I worked on the project during my Master with my colleagues Victor Armas and Matthew Roth.

Test design

We compared how people use the web interface of Google Drive and OneDrive. We used a within-subjects design with six participants (university students) and four tasks. We collected quantitative data (time on tasks, error count, success rate) and qualitative data (opinions of the participants).

The test design.

Research questions

  • Do users complete common tasks quickly? (Efficiency)
  • Do users understand how to create, edit, and delete documents? (Effectiveness)
  • Do users understand where to click, what the icons mean and how they should interact with the system? (Effectiveness)
  • Do users perceive the performance of the two systems in a different way? (Satisfaction)


In the test, we gave four tasks to each participant. The tasks represent common behaviors and goals that users might want to reach when they use online file systems.

Task 1: You have just read about a nice recipe for muffins. You would like to take some notes about it, and share them with a friend. Create a “Muffin recipe” document and then share it with your friend Andy. Their email address is 

Task 2: You made a booking for a trip, but you are not sure if you still want to go. You decide to delete both the hotel confirmation and the flight ticket.

Task 3: Then, you change your mind, and decided to still go to the trip, by car. You need the hotel confirmation back.

Task 4: You want to download a letter from Anne to your computer, but you don’t have a lot of free space. You need to check how big is the file before downloading it.


Our results show that Google Drive is faster, causes fewer errors, and has a higher success rate than OneDrive (95% vs. 70%).

Most participants also thought that Google Drive was easier to use and faster, but many were already familiar with it.

Time on task (measured in seconds): Google Drive is faster, except in task 4.
Error count: Google Drive causes fewer errors, except in task 4.

But even though Google Drive performed better, most participants preferred OneDrive because they thought that Word Online is better than Google Drive for editing documents:

“When you edit, Google Drive… sucks. It’s just awful.”


“I like that they have Word. It’s better than Google Drive.”



In OneDrive, many participants couldn’t find the “Recycle bin”. Our top recommendation was to change its position—from the bottom-left corner of the page to the left sidebar, where you find the main navigation. A few months after our test, OneDrive did exactly that.

OneDrive updated user interface
OneDrive’s updated interface.

Materials & deliverables

For more details on the test, you can check out the test script, the full report, and the final presentation: